Being adaptable is key to surviving the changes in the media industry.
Executive producer Michelle Lovegrove and chief cameraman Jorge Zarate have seen the different methods of “delivering the work” since starting in the 80s.
“I started in the days of cassette tapes, reels to reels, china blocks, editing blocks, china graph pencils, cards, things like that. And, we played records. So, you can imagine how the industry has changed immensely,” Lovegrove said.
While Lovegrove is also a presenter of indigenous news for current affairs radio show Living Black, she began her career as an editor.
“I love to edit on tape, on physical tape,” she said. “They used to call me the ‘slash queen’ at the ABC. I was their little baby. These people came to me with their reels because I was good at editing them.”
To keep doing what she loves, Lovegrove said she “needed to move” with the changes in the industry. She begged, borrowed and stole ad-copy from radio stations to produce demos of radio adverts. “That was to show, ‘Hey, I can read ads. I can do voicers,'” she said.
“To get a body of work behind you there are various media courses in universities, or TAFE to learn your skills. Internships are offered every year at SBS, as well as the ABC.
“If you’re trying to get into the industry and you’ve got none of those things, you’re going to have to do them because you need to be able to show people what you’ve done. I know it’s the chicken and egg thing, ‘How can I show you I’ve got experience when I don’t have any?’
“You can record video and voiceover demos. There’s free software you can use on your computer at home. So, no one has an excuse not have a demo.”
Zarate, who retires this year as SBS chief cameraman, missed the film days by a matter of months back in 1986. “You’d shoot on film, take it for processing to Telecine. I don’t even know what they did with the audio. That wouldn’t have been simple,” he said.
Since then, formats have come and gone.
“News used to go out on two-inch tape, then it went out on one-inch tape. Our cameras became 3/4-inch tape recorders, down to half-inch, then quarter-inch. Now, they’re digital. They’re on cards. How many changes is that?”
When news went digital, things started to change radically.
“Journalists are editing their own stories now. When I was a kid it just didn’t happen. They didn’t know about editing. Now, they’re shooting their own stuff,” Zarate said.
Editing costs were around $200,000 when Zarate started. “Then you needed another $100,000 for a camera, etc. Now, you can do it for about $10,000. A decent camera, a laptop, some software.
“You can do it slower. You can use your mate’s laptop, somebody else’s camera, you can buy things on eBay. I’m just saying $10,000 will get you a great studio set-up, ready for broadcast quality.”
Lovegrove is increasingly being called a media/community representative due to her work on Living Black, but she calls herself a journalist first and foremost.
“In SBS, as a producer, you’re expected to have journalistic skills,” she said. “And, vice versa. With these producing jobs, if you don’t know how to write, if you don’t have those basic skills of journalism, that’s a problem. Are you a journalist or are you a producer? It’s a blurred line as far as I’m concerned.”
When it comes to the current climate in media, the internet, even iPhones and Android technologies, change is the only constant.
Lovegrove said, “You [have] got to remain adaptable. When I started, we were using typewriters. Our AAP and news feeds were pouring through on reams of paper. All that’s changed. Basically, you either adapt or you don’t.” – Photo and report by Mart Basa
Photo of Michelle Lovegrove in the studio for Living Black.