Thursday, 7 July 2011

The News Library

I took part in a film at work for Information Awareness Month:

I work for ABC, Australia's national public service broadcaster. As I say in the film, I am a Cataloguer, but for the past five weeks I've been working as a TV news researcher. It's been good. I'm reluctant to return to cataloguing. As a cataloguer, I shotlist ABC's news/current affairs broadcasts. The catalogue records feed into production, with researchers using shotlists to locate material.

But cataloguing is, for the most part, an isolated activity. It is necessary to wear headphones to listen to the material on which you're working, so there is very little conversation in the room. The workload is also pretty high (an ABC cataloguer will tackle at least one 30 minute broadcast every day, researching provenance of material, locations etc. as they go), and the levels of concentration that are sustained make it inappropriate to distract colleagues with chatter.

Some years ago I might have welcomed such a monastic profession, and in fact I may have sought the ideal of a solitary archivist toiling in a basement when I started out on this occupation, but I no longer find this desirable. I've enjoyed working in the news library. The phone can ring at any time. It's more collaborative and more exciting - I had the experience of quickly pulling a tape for overlay on a breaking story and watching an editor run down the corridor with it, to see it broadcast moments later on our flagship news programme. In this way it can be instantly gratifying.

The people in the news library are brilliant, and it's interesting to work with the journalists and other ABC branches around Australia. I went out for post-work drinkies, which hasn't happened in 2 years of cataloguing. And you are also working with new production technologies adopted by the newsroom. But most of all, I think I am good at it.

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