Monday, December 06, 2010

A new role for the film trades?

Earlier today, I was reading my Twitter feed and noticed that Sundance had announced their short film selections. I had an interest in this news, because several of my clients and friends were awaiting announcements (ok, those accepted already knew from the programmers) so I clicked through and read the press release. All the news I needed to know was there on the Sundance site for me - info on the films, the directors, how many had submitted, etc.

Within 30 seconds, I received tweets from all the film trades that I follow, as well as from nearly every film blogger on the planet that yes, indeed, Sundance had announced their selections. None of them seemed to add any news to the, uhm, news. If we can even call it news, rather than PR - there's an old saying that news is what someone doesn't want published, the rest is just PR, but that's another post.

This makes me wonder a few things. Since Sundance, and any other film festival, film organization, film company, etc. can reach me directly now, is there any need for the film trades to report this news? Especially if they aren't adding much in the way of analysis? I can actually see the argument for the regular press to publish it - readers of the NYT may not follow Sundance, but surely, anyone in the film business who needs to know about Sundance can hear it from their Tweets and doesn't need Indiewire (or Variety, or...) to relay that info anymore.

Does this news merit being the headline of your daily email news? Probably not anymore. Should it possibly be moved down to an "as noted" column at best? Probably so.

Does this give you, as a reporter and you, as an editor, more free time to devote to other stuff? Yes! There's a lot of news out there not getting reported by any of the trades. All kinds of info it would be good to know. Some real reporting could be done. Some digging, and even some making people angry for being a ....journalist. You know, the kind that digs for hidden stories, now apparently only done by Wikileaks. Come to think of it, since all of the trades seem locked in a battle to become less relevant by the minute, perhaps we just need to start a wikileaks for the film business. That would be news.

Now, I know many of the people at the trades, and most of them are good people. I am not attacking any particular trade here, or any reporter, nor am I arguing that all of what they do should be muckraking. But if you take a look at pretty much every trade on any given day, you quickly notice a lot of PR and not much news. We could use a balance between the two. Just a thought.

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