Monday, February 25, 2008

SNG unit report

When you watch news on Taiwanese TV channels, do you often hear "John Du, SGN (satellite news gathering) unit report" or "Jane Du satellite report from Washington"? What I'm going to discuss is not the content of news because everyone knows just how bad it is. I'd like to discuss something technical, something applicable everywhere in the world.

As an audience, I don't care how the pictures are transmitted to my TV. What I care about are location and time. They usually show the location, although the precision is not completely satisfactory. Time is just as important as location. Since news is called "news", then they have the duty of showing how new the news is. Some SNG pictures are live, and then get recycled during the next hour, and over and over again. So what if they tell me it's SNG? I'd rather see time stamps that include full date and with the precision of minute. This is a very simple technology, yet it provides vital information. Many news reports involve A saying something, then B responding to A, and then C saying something. In this case, the ordering is very important. In addition, news shown in late night or early morning are usually rerun. And the news may include video recorded even earlier, possibly ranged from 4 to 20 hours ago. At this time, they must show two time stamps, anchor's time and the video's time. Furthermore, people who watch news at this time during the day usually don't have the sense of time. Showing time stamps help these people come to sense. And pictures captured in another time zone must include local time and the time in major broadcasting area.

Some people might think nobody would care about this, except geeks like me. But do you not see reporters' names included in news articles, printed and televised alike? Most of these people are not famous. Why? This is a form of responsible journalism. Showing time stamps is also a form of responsible journalism, as a proof of not falsifying the sequence of events, or misleading the audience.


Mumbai, India
Picture in local time5:30 PM 2/25/2008
Picture in Taipei time8:00 PM 2/25/2008
Anchor's time9:13 PM 2/25/2008
Now1:13 AM 2/26/2008
(not lotto numbers)

See also (all in Chinese)

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