CBS, CBS News, Sunday Morning, Video
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Nothing Succeeds Like Failure

Posted October 22, 2017
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This morning we watched CBS Sunday Morning.

It's a very good show.

It also looks exactly like it did when I worked there as a producer in the 1980s.

In fact, it could be exactly the same, save that Charles Kuralt is no longer the host.

When I worked there, they gave us laptop computers to work with. TRS 80s. I still have mine. It still works. (The hardest part is finding D-Cell batteries to run it and finding a physical phone to connect the rubber cups so I can transmit the story).

My iPhone is a big step forward from the TRS.

The funny thing is, computers have made enormous progress since the 1980s. CBS Sunday Morning still looks exactly the same.

Why is that?

A lot of it has to do with what I call 'Freedom To Fail."

Television, until recently, has been both incredibly expensive and incredibly complicated to produce. Find a story, book the crew, get the producer, get the reporter, fly to the location, shoot the video, log the video, write the script, get it to the editor... on and on. A LOT of costs, a lot of people.

And that is just for one stupid little story.

Last week we ran our video bootcamp here in NY.

One of the participants was a producer with PBS, making those very high end documentaries that always win awards.

He was a bit depressed.

For the past year or two they had been 'in development'.

Meetings, budgets, meetings, budgets... pitch sessions... funding...

But no shooting.

That's because that is also made in a very complex and expensive way.

This cost, this complexity makes people nervous. Cautious. Risk averse.

If you want to write a book you just start writing. In the olden days, you just rolled a piece of paper into your typewriter and started banging away.

If you wrote a few pages and they were terrible, you threw out the paper and started again.

Today you just delete.

But... if every piece of paper cost you $100 or you had to pay $1 for each keystroke, you would be very, very, very careful as to what you wrote. And, most likely, every novel in the world would start:

"It was a dark and stormy night....."


Just like CBS Sunday Morning.

When it costs a lot to try something, there is a great disincentive to try anything new.

Too risky.

So people just repeat what they did before... that which worked.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Today, anyone can make as much video as they want (and edit it and share it) on their iPhone.

There is no need to be so frightened.

Instead of having endless production meetings, just take the phone and start shooting.

If it sucks, delete and start again.. and again.. and again.


Fail to your heart's content.

Failure is good! 

There is no progress without failure.

Just ask any biologist.

Evolution is based on faiiure.

Nature makes millions of mistakes to find the next step that works.

Television is not evolutionary

It is creationist.





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