Saturday, October 22, 2011


Waltzing on a historic floor. (twb)
A flashmob turning the Haus des Rundfunks into a dancefloor. Slow media anyone?

Slowing down

Modern times are fast-paced times. But a media festival is not a race to run. Nor are media productions. The opening keynote is held by the former BBC journalist Angus Stickler (now Bureau of Investigative Journalism) pointing out that today's media lack both depth and quality. What the world needs is "slow media" instead of 24 hour "news processing", Stickler says: programmes that are better researched, better produced and presented with more care.

Sticklers example: Only by means of endless sifting through thousands and thousands of classified files published by Wikileaks in 2010, only by means of insistent investigation and thorough research, of classical, old-school journalism and a close collaboration of powerful media organisations the bulk of documents could be transformed into valueable media content - and, in the end, into the headlines the world still speaks about.

Today, we are overfed ad nauseam by an overabundance of content, literally one click away, the major part of it superficial, useless, unneeded, and unwanted. What the audience needs instead is quality, quality on all levels of research and production. Old-school "slow media", Stickler says, are not on the decline. They might well be the future of today's news industry.

"Hurtigruten" in the Haus des Rundfunks. (twb)
An impressive example for "slow media" comes from Norway. This year's summer NRK produced "Hurtigruten", a six day-and-night TV live documentary of a sea journey from Bergen to Kirkenes, Norway's northernmost harbor. To cut a long story short: The audience adored the broadcasts. (And so does the Prix Europa: "Hurtigruten" will be shown in the main hall of the Haus des Rundfunks. The full six days.)

Facts and figures

Prix Europa: endless rows of pigeon holes. (twb)
The Prix Europa, first held in 1987, is the largest and most renowned broadcasting festival in Europe. Eight days. 240 TV, radio and multimedia productions. 1000 journalists and producers from 40 countries, each of them eager to win the bull-shaped prize (not to mention the 6000 euros that go with it).

A place of history

Haus des Rundfunks, main hall. (twb)
The Haus des Rundfunks - or simply HDR as it is called these days - is one of the most important places in Europe's media history. Built in 1929, the HDR was the home of the National Socialist Rundfunk (1933-1945), the Sender Freies Berlin (1957-2003), and today it is the main building of the Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg RBB. (Read more.)
Haus des Rundfunks, paternoster elevator. (twb)
Yet the past is not just a notion within these walls. You can see it. Smell it. Hear it. Even feel it. Just step into one of the cabins of the Paternoster elevator carrying the jury members to their auditioning rooms. And if you do, you will recall Heinrich Böll's short masterpiece "Doktor Murkes gesammeltes Schweigen" paying tribute to a forgotten invention, and to the golden days of radio broadcasting.

The best of the best

Bull-shaped and precious: the prize. (twb)
Prix Europa - this is the place where Europe's best media makers meet. More than one thousand of them. Which of course is a problem: Hundreds of productions, and just one blogger.

Hence I will be able to comment on just a small number of broadcasts and productions. Excellent ones. Not so good ones. Edit: Nah, just good ones. Otherwise they would not be presented here. You know, the Prix Europa is the place where... (see above).