Perspectives

In the late 1990s, a technology change caused a massive shift in the way in which news organizations produced prime-time news.  While most news organizations were shooting on the industry standard at the time - Betacam SP - and editing tape to tape to produce the nightly news, I helped usher in the digital revolution at a TV newsroom in South Africa called eNews.  Although we shot on tape, the digital footage was imported to servers where it was accessible easily for viewing and editing on non-linear software. Commonplace today, the evening news, script, graphics and video was compiled and broadcast from server.  Although our newscast was an hour earlier than the flagship SABC competition, our deadlines for airtime were very similar.  It meant we could broadcast the same story as the competetition an hour earlier.

Server-based, nonlinear digital video was a key factor – along with a kick-ass team -- that allowed eNews to eclipse the SABC’s audience share within just a few months, overtaking their primetime evening news audience numbers. 

The storms that blew through yesterday with lightning that fried our company's modem and the data line from the road to our building reminded me of the old tech variant of the joke that 'real men don't do backups'.  My many years as a skydiver has taught me the value of a reserve parachute and developing a plan B.  What this means is examining processes for a single point of failure and then determining the cost/benefit that a failure at that point is likely to have for survival.  Clearly, in skydiving, it's a really good idea.