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Television: Screen and Identity

Professor Omar Rincón, television critic, audiovisual instructor and director of the TV Specialization Program of the Javeriana University talks about the Program for the Training of TV Professionals in Latin America.

TV&V: What is the Program for the Training of T.V. Professionals in Latin America?

Omar Rincón: First of all, this is the Media Program for Latin America of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation that is based in Quito, but has as its spectrum of work all of Latin America. The project arises from this German foundation because there it considers that information is a matrix or an important transversal axis in the construction of the meaning of life in a country in democracy, in a developed country, in a country in peace.

The purpose of the project is to make the participants understand that television is a fundamental strategy for the development of a nation, for the construction of democracy and that it is fundamental not so much because of the content it has, without denying its importance, but because it can learn to be a mechanism of expression of the sensitivity of each region. Television is, perhaps, one of the closest strategies for each culture to tell itself, put itself on the screen and say what it is like. What we think is that the more possibilities each culture has to tell each other, the closer we are to making a better television.

TV&V: Who is it for?

- Publicidad -

Omar Rincón: In the first instance it is aimed at journalists, but over time there has been an attempt to turn it more to the perspective of a communication for development, a communication for democracy. To that extent, not only are projects for journalists supported, but also community communication, television, city and communication projects, and citizenship projects.

Generally, the participation of public channels, regional or local television channels and commercial television channels that have some interest in the work of information for the construction of the public and communication for development is sought.

TV&V: What programs do they work with?

Omar Rincón: The Program has seven types of courses in Television: Informative Television, which seeks to propose to the informative spaces a form of serious expression that is useful to the audience, it seeks the understanding of the way of working the information from the perspective of a company for development, for freedom of the press and for the construction of democracy. A second course is Great Reportage, this course tries to make television based on research processes, which seeks social protagonism where everyday characters become television subjects and local culture is the axis of the stories. Another course is Maus (audiovisual messages of social utility), which focuses on how to make social campaigns through television for issues of social interest such as AIDS, vaccines or ecology. it is a very interesting course because within this format you look at how to combine all genres in a single program, assuming that it is one of the genres with the greatest potential and possibility for people to apply and use it. Training of Television Trainers, is a course that is aimed at teachers and universities specifically. There is also the Program Design course for regional and local television. In this course there is the participation of an expert who works with the people of the channel for fifteen days in the design of television programs for the same channel. And finally, the course of Television and Sensibilities, which works on the idea of meaning and the way of producing television from sensibilities as narrative and aesthetic proposals.

TV&V: How are the courses developed?

Omar Rincón: Each course is designed with a very high practical component. That's why it's done on TV channels. There people have to produce collectively and the advantage of this is that not only journalists are invited to participate but also the cameraman and the editor are invited; the three go together and are a work team that has to do a final work.

In a two-week course, two journalistic notes are produced. This is complemented by two days of theoretical content, in which it is exposed what it means to produce audiovisually in this era, the theory of image and editing, and the theory of television for development. The rest is to design the program and do it. What is given to the participants is a basic training to produce their own t.v. That television that no one else can do because it's a TV about people and community stories that involves its own aesthetics.

- Publicidad -

TV&V: Where do they dictate them?

Omar Rincón: These courses have been taught throughout Latin America. We have been in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and possibly start working on a public television project in Brazil and Uruguay. It is a true Latin American project to this extent and has been interesting because of the possibility that the continent gives to know in this aspect.

The program conducts twelve courses a year of one to two weeks duration with direct training in the channels of the various countries of Latin America. Instructors from Germany, Chile, Brazil, the United States, Colombia and Ecuador, among others, participate.

TV&V: How do you see television training in A.L.?

Omar Rincón: In Latin America there is a big problem with respect to technological backwardness, but you can also see that people are very creative and talented. A television is made from their needs, from their culture, from their trades, but they have never had the possibility of training, there has never been a reflection on television work. And at this point you can see a big difference with North American or European television that has built models. There is a model of BBC television, Dutch TV, Spanish TV. There a cameraman records with defined work models.

In A.L. the cameramen, journalists and in general the production team does not have work models, it has no television conception. It becomes a television that has a lot of radio and the press. This makes it an absolutely oral television, not very visual. There is a contempt for audiovisual narrative, but that contempt is because they do not know the language, because no one has taught them to tell.

- Publicidad -

You can see the absence of people who know about television in the direction of the channels and tv newscasts. Still in A.L. the information is still a political problem rather than a narrative problem and the serious thing is that it has not begun to think about it.

At the moment there is a great transformation in A.L. because a new generation of professionals trained in other countries is arriving. They are teaching people to tell stories by t.v and they are teaching in universities. Before that did not happen, in other times the professor of written journalism became a professor of radio and then of television. He taught content structures but television, above all, is a language, it is a way of telling, it is an affective expression.

Probably in the very near future we will have a revolution in Latin America because there will be many young people willing not to tell stories of broad content but to tell good stories on television that is different. For now in A.L. we have been in charge of making eloquent texts in off illustrated by images. I think that in the future we will begin to see a t.v. much more superficial, if you like in the sense of content, but much more attractive in audiovisual stories.

TV&V: Within this program you have just released a book. What is it about?

Omar Rincón: Television: Screen and Identity is a book that arises as a response to what we have been doing in the program. I have been teaching these courses for 5 years and during that time we have detected the information and training needs of the people of the television medium. With Mauricio Estrella, the other author of the book, we tried to see what could be taught and what could not. The book responds to that. It is not a television manual. And although it has parts that talk about how the image, editing, lighting and reporting are conceived, it also talks about conceptualization. It proposes a look at how television is produced in a globalized world, where there is a world culture and where regional cultures must be places of identity and development. It also tells how to make a newscast a useful television proposal for society and how to make television a significant social fact for the community.

It tries to be a book of theoretical reflection on the meaning of making television at this time in Latin America and, on the other hand, it tries to be a practical proposal to learn to think better about the image, learn to think better about editing, audio and all this.

For now it is a book of free distribution for people interested in the subject and, obviously, for those attending training courses. The way to get it is by writing to the e-mail: [email protected]

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