What the NCC should do

On January 23, I responded to a request from a representative of the media relations section of the NCC to offer notes from a photographer's perspective on what should be done this year.
In good faith, this was the note that I sent in response.

Notes on accreditation for Carnival 2014
Mark Lyndersay
January 23, 2014.


The first thing that’s worth considering here is why there is accreditation at all.
The only sensible answer is that there is a limited amount of space available with good access to the performances of Carnival.
If that’s the reason, then there are several aspects of that which need to be interrogated.

First, why is the physical space so limited? In fact, after all this time, the access area for most Carnival events is growing smaller and more hostile to photographers and videographers, which is somewhat strange, since it ensures that our coverage of Carnival is becoming less interesting and more constrained.

It also pushes people keen to make better pictures into defying stage rules and authority.
Given the nature of the festival, there has always been more people who want to capture images of events than there will be space to accommodate them comfortably.

Since this will always be a small group who should be in it?
It stands to reason that working media should be first on the list. These are the people who are responsible for the public record of Carnival, and their efforts ensure that there is archival testimony of the work that Carnival’s creators invest every year.

Who else should be there?
It’s time that Carnival’s leadership should acknowledge that there is now more to effective communication of the festival’s virtues than just traditional media. There are bloggers, social media attractors and documentarians working aggressively on commenting on and recording the festival in a way that goes well beyond what we see in the coverage done by local media.

If someone is extending the public understanding of Carnival with good results and an impressive audience online, they are likely to be doing it on their own dime. Should they be punished for that by having daunting fees levied on them or rewarded for their educated engagement with the event?

The simple truth is that these fees have ruined the coverage of Carnival. Imposing hefty fees on people producing documents recording Carnival may seem to be a good idea for the people receiving the cash (no doubt a pittance to the bandleaders who have pressed for it), but it has created a lowest common denominator ethos among those who do produce such publications and broadcasts.

There is no room for careful thought, intellectual analysis or adventurous image creation in such documents. They must ensure a return on their investment, who we now have Carnival “magazines” with cover to cover images of half-naked women and little else. These documents must make their money back, inclusive of the fees harvested in the dubious name of copyright early in the dance, and the results have been putrid for more than a decade now.

Even if the fees were removed this year, it will take decades to get back to the pinnacle of such Carnival records, Roy Boyke’s Trinidad Carnival magazine, long forgotten now, and never since matched.

Time for some bullet points…
Loosen the restrictions of official access to Carnival in the interests of getting more of the record into the public domain. It can only improve the festival and bring more paying visitors to T&T.

Acknowledge the importance of documentarians and new media practitioners in bringing more attention to the festival, particularly those aspects of it which are dying through a lack of attention.

Improve the actual accommodations. Better line of sight angles and preplanning of the actual visual coverage of the event would satisfy more image makers and lead to better images emerging from Carnival 2014.

Enforce your own rules. Purge spaces of people who aren’t supposed to be there. Ensure that accredited image makers actually have a chance to do the work they have come to do. This isn’t a party for us. It’s long hard hours of work that demands sustained attention. Control your stages with clear rules or let madness reign.

Remove the fees for documentary publication in print and video for local producers. What’s happened since they were imposed has been far more costly than any money that’s been earned.

- Assign sensible people to oversee media personnel. I’m personally quite tired of dealing with thick headed people assigned to work media enclosures with no real authority, no information or an accompanying clue and a bad attitude.

Related...
BitDepth#924: Carnival Copyright Redux
Narend Sooknarine's experience with the NCC accreditation team.
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