What TV is Made Of

The medium of television is often disparaged as shallow, mindless escapism for the intellectually sedate. To be sure, America’s Funniest Home Videos is not heavy lifting.

But that’s not the medium. That’s the message.

The medium of television is one of the more miraculous feats of engineering in the modern era, and made all the more interesting for the ubiquity that makes it seem commonplace. TV is also a labor of love for a community of very talented, diligent people.

In the aftermath of the now infamous Super Bowl Breast Exposure of 2004, all I could think of were the people who’d spent the previous year developing and implementing unheard of technologies specifically for that telecast.

It would be remembered instead for a boob, a blatant and abject gesture of disrespect for the army of people who made that telecast possible. The same people went right back to work on the next year’s event, and because of that, I am somewhat awed yet not surprised at the continued thriving desire to work in TV production.

Eric Wotila of Cadillac, Mich., is one of those people. At 19, Wotila has developed a news operation that caught the eye of the local cable provider. It’s one thing to be an accidental YouTube phenomenon. It’s another to bootstrap your own newscast.

Then there’s Michael Resnick’s fourth and fifth graders at Marie Durand Elementary School in Vineland, N.J., who produce a daily television show. Resnick wrote the following letter to the editor, seeking assistance in acquiring gear for the program. For anyone who’s ever once bemoaned the paucity of qualified recruits for TV work, here’s a chance to do something about it.

“Dear Ms. McAdams,
Our fourth and fifth graders set up backdrops, video cameras, computer graphics and edit news and weather segments as well as perform during our live daily show called ‘Good Morning Durand.’

I have tried to find ways to obtain equipment for our station. With the change to digital TV I thought that there would be analog equipment that would be available for us to use.

We need better lighting. Our teleprompters are nothing more than TV monitors hooked up to a computer running PowerPoint. How are children and young adults given the opportunity to experience television first hand?

How many children, when asked, will answer this question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ with TV director, camera operator, floor director, etc? The reason I am writing you is that we need help. The budgets in New Jersey have been cut. Certain teaching positions have been eliminated. I haven’t found any grants available for this type of equipment.

Can you help us?”

Michael Resnick
Marie Durand Elementary School
371 W. Forest Grove Rd.
Vineland, NJ 08360

We hope so, Mr. Resnick.
Television Broadcast welcomes reader feedback, at dmcadams@ nbmedia.com.