Friday, July 10, 2015

"WEED got that b-roll!"

A presumably normal woman, blowing marijuana smoke. (Image: DPA)
After celebrating some victories on the ballot, marijuana advocates have another issue to blunt: They want pot to be seen as a substance that normal, everyday people do.

Which is what sparked a new high in pro-marijuana public relations.

I give you: the marijuana b-roll project.

Put this in your pipe and smoke it: Yes, the puns in this post are on purpose. This is all supposed to be in good fun.

B-roll is TV shorthand for footage that can be shown while somebody talks. The Drug Policy Alliance is (fairly, I think) sick of, in their words: "watching cheesy b-roll footage of textbook stoners for every television news story about marijuana."

What they offered is an amusing, too-perfect collection of 21 clips of people buying and using marijuana-- which brings back fond memories of the infamous "we got that broll" YouTube sketch:

1. He's helping, but looks like grandma's teaching Bong 101

DPA title: "Young man helping older woman smoke marijuana with a water pipe"

2. Weed makes me bendy (in a healthy way, though)

DPA title: "Woman using a marijuana vaporizer pen and doing yoga"

3. Pass the Sorry on the left-hand side!

DPA title: "Diverse group of women smoking marijuana around a table"

4. OMG! Pot makes YouTube even FUNNIER!

DPA title: "Young woman and man (couple) vaping marijuana at home"

5. Wait for it... aaaaaaand... action!

DPA title: "Young man uses water pipe to smoke marijuana"

MORE: see the entire collection at DPA's marijuana b-roll project page

Okay, okay... so the likelihood that major news organizations will use this material is slim-to-none.

We generally prefer our own video and we avoid staged video as much as we possibly can.

These just don't scream authenticity.

Just casually using my bong in my bamboo garden! (Image: DPA)
That said, the folks at DPA raise a fair point: the file footage that many TV stations have in their archives was shot back to the days when we had to find people willing to let us shoot video of them committing a crime, a problem we are no longer saddled with in Colorado.

Many people have a stereotypical image of pot users and there's a good reason for pro-pot groups to try to burn this one down.

With marijuana legal in states like Colorado, it opens the drug up to more casual use. People can pop into a shop for an occasional purchase and get a nostalgic dose of their college days.

Others may just have a little pot to unwind, in much the same way they'd have a beer at the end of a long workday. (With the caveat that in Colorado, you can legally get fired for this.)

The stereotypical stoners are still there, and they still represent a healthy chunk of the millions of dollars worth of pot sales being made in legal shops in Colorado.

Bored games? Not when you have a joint! (Image: DPA)
But it's not unfair to try to get those of us in the news media to use shots that look more like your friends and neighbors who casually use pot.

This is just one front in a much larger fight.

Marijuana advocates are also trying to reshape the language that we use to talk about it.

I've had people take issue with my use of the word "weed" and even my use of the word "use."

The trouble is, particularly in broadcast news, we use conversational English in our writing.

I might write:

"A bunch of people smoked pot at the rally."

Pro-pot groups would much rather have me write:

"Many people consumed cannabis at the rally."

I'm not going to write that way, because you would never actually say that out loud.

RELATED: That's not marijuana-- that's cannabis (by Trevor Hughes)

Vaping... on a couch! (Image: DPA)
The news media is just a group of people-- which means to some degree, it's always going to reflect mainstream societal views.

If people start thinking and talking about pot differently, you'll see the media do the same.

It's a chicken-and-egg conundrum for those who want to normalize marijuana.

This b-roll project isn't likely to hatch up new opinions in the intended manner.

But hey, it's got us talking about the issue.

Come to think of it, I think our own archive footage of pot smoking could use an update...

5 comments:

  1. Nice blog. Well articulated look into what news organizations consider while writing.

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  2. There's just something so inherently funny about watching older ladies smoking marijuana. Hit that bong, grandma! Lol.

    - Sarah

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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