a blog, newsletter, and kaleidoscope notebook about politics, the media, and culture
by tom bunting, a Real Journalist

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Welcome back to Video Loss

August 3, 2019 7:51 PM
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Welcome back to Video Loss

I’m writing this on the Northeast Regional, the same Amtrak route I’ve taken countless times over the last four years visiting my family in Pennsylvania, my partner’s family in New York, or traveling to Washington for a semester I spent there last year. I’m very familiar with the route; the dull monotony of New Jersey suburbs between New York and Philadelphia; the quiet water and massive bridges outside of Boston on the way through New England. The way the tree line cuts the setting sun and lights the jagged rocks outside of New York. It’s one of my favorite places to be. Despite the seasons, despite the time, the view always feels the same. I appreciate that in a time where very little feels consistent both in my life and in the industry I want to work in. 

Last summer, when I was interning at a Boston-area news station, I started using this blog more than I had before. A big of this was the day-to-day tedium of working in local news slowly driving me insane. Working at a Professional Broadcast Journalism Outlet reminded me that I really need to become a better writer if I ever want to do anything other than maybe have the honor of covering police union potlucks for the rest of my life. The barrier to entry for writing about not-boring-shit in journalism continues to get higher, as the industry slowly implodes and mediocre c-suite executives fail upwards in a continuous pivot to worse content made by fewer people. Four years in journalism school has completely failed to prepare me for the kind of hustle and talent required to survive in such a harsh environment. My driving goal with Video Loss was, and still is, a selfish desire to become a better writer and survive in this industry on as close to my own terms as possible. 

Of course, things change, and this blog’s output has slowed in the last year. The reason is simple: it’s difficult to write for something that often feels perfunctory to everything else. Especially when everything else includes a really difficult American Sign Language class that you absolutely need to pass to graduate and your brother is dying. (He didn’t and I got a solid D in the class!) I have a lot more free time now as a recent post-grad, and I’ve have spent the last few months meticulously rebuilding Video Loss. Today, I’m launching it with a new mandate of consistency and quality. (Hopefully!)

My interests with this project remain the same: the intersection of politics and media, and how the last decade of technology has changed our connection to both. I think we live in a fundamentally unsettled time in American culture, and a driving force behind this upheaval is the technological advances that have changed our society, the possibility of our political lives, and the media that shape our narratives. I want to explore this moment with the curiosity and tenacity that it deserves. In the past few months, I've done some thinking about how I can best use this blog to explore these ideas. 

First, the obvious visual refresh. After literal years of being frustrated by Wordpress themes that don’t do exactly what I want, I’ve just gone and designed everything myself. It’s built on Webflow, which is limited in its own ways, but I’m plugging the gaps here and there and using it as an excuse to learn some coding. (You can read much more about my process here). The cool thing is that I’m able to do way more with visual design than I have before. I’m very interested in how design can be used to supplement written reporting and analysis. Moving to Webflow really allows me to use Video Loss as a platform to explore that relationship. I’ve specifically built some templates around bigger ideas that I have, look out for those in the coming weeks.

Beyond the visual changes and grandiose ideas that it’ll support, the redesign also changes how I’ll approach writing for Video Loss. I’ve embraced post types, creating templates for different formats like shorter articles and articles specifically responding to links or quotes. Hopefully, removing the expectation that every post needs to be 600+ words will help me write more. I’m thinking of it as a running notebook on the current state of media and politics in the spirit of the versatile Gawker blogs of the past, with the capacity to scale up into bigger features and experiments. 

And this isn’t all talk! Video Loss is relaunching with several pieces that hopefully express what I’m going for.  In this short post about a Jeffery Goldberg interview, I’m using a quote as a starting point for analyzing diversity in media. I made a video showing how Craigslist forever changed the business of local news. I designed a longform template to present this article examining new television news formats. And I’ve written up policy proposals made by some 2020 Democrats. Please check out the archives and let me know what you think. 

In basic terms: I want this website to be a fluid place that lets me explore topics I’m deeply interested in. I want to be able to explore how the Internet can convey these stories in new and exciting ways. And I want to become a better writer. Like and subscribe!