Are we the band on a sinking ship ?

Feature Hearing / PRIX EUROPA 2001

(...) SOS --- Save Our Souls --- The Soul of feature making is what I like to call THE DOCUMENTARY IDEA. Which transformations radio documentary will have to go through in the future -- the Documentary Idea must be saved.

The amount of knowledge, that mankind accumulates, is growing with increasing speed. At present it doubles every five years - they say. From an advertisement for IBM-Business-Servers: "In this box there are the answers to all questions you ever had. It contains every invention und every idea, you admired in your lifetime..." And so on. It's all in the box !

Yes - the feature is under threat. It's coming from outside, but It's a homemade threat too. Feature makers as well as station managers and media politicians are bewildered by the expansion of the World Wide Web. There is a vague feeling, that we should cope with the explosion of bits and bites - somehow. But instantly. We just don't have the tools and the resources. There is panic in the air.

And verily I tell you: Don't panic.

As we all can watch on the screens of our personal computers: The internet is becoming more and more a warehouse, a dump - stuffed with junk and treasures in complete disorder. It's a mess. The growth of raw material - of stuff, of things (I don't call it "information") -- demands the return of the author with competence and authority. It demands the Documentary Idea - or what the documentary film pioneer John Grierson called "The creative treatment of reality".