Dogme Ninety FIVE News

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A dozen years after a group of directors rejected the decadence of modern film-making and signed up to a back-to-basics manifesto, Five News has announced it is going to take steps to restore viewer trust by banning editorial tricks from news broadcasts.

“There are some TV news tricks”, the Five News editor told the Media Guardian, “that have been used for many years that date back to the way people used to have to edit things. But technology means we can be more explicit about things now.” Staged interview sequences, interviewers talking to empty chairs, and ‘Contrived walking shots’ will all, according to David Kermode, be banned.

This is not quite Dogme 95 but it’s a good start. And, if Five keeps to its new rules, and makes them explicit to viewers, they will – gradually – have an impact. Already the BBC and Sky are talking about following Five’s lead.

Unfortunately we don’t know whether Kermode is asking his journalists to sign a ‘Vow of Chastity’ as Dogme 95 did (and does?), or indeed if Kermode has written his rules down.

Dogme’s 10 manifesto mixed the disciplinarian (‘Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in’) with the slightly batty (‘The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.’).

Still, there are some that news broadcasters could adopt. Rule Number 7, for example, states that ‘Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. (That is to say that the film takes place here and now.)’.

News statements of principle have a mixed pedigree. Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane famously splashed a ‘declaration of principles’ across the front page of his first edition and then promptly ignored them. At the time Jedidiah Leland (Joseph Cotton) commented that they were as likely to be used as a “first report card” as a constitution. I wonder if Five News will find the same.

Still, the idea is as much a statement of purpose as a set of rigid rules, and it signals a growing acknowledgment that – in news at least – it’s much better to be straight with the public than to try and fool them.

Written by Martin Moore

August 30th, 2007 at 7:25 am

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One Response to 'Dogme Ninety FIVE News'

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  1. For me this just reflects the hysteria surrounding the industry rather than anything more strategic or level-headed.A more balanced debate would recognise that some ‘viewer tricks’ were harmless. Whatever next? Sport photography that depicts the moment described by the caption? Headlines quoting a source using the words they actually said?

    Matthew

    31 Aug 07 at 5:30 pm

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