21st June – Midsummer and the media


Photographing the photographers at midnight. This was a pretty big fire to begin with.
This time I was ready! Last year I arrived the day before midsummer.  Surprised and happy I was not finding it THAT cold in Svalbard, I headed down to the midsummer bonfire party on the beach in  a normal set of layers. I retreated at 9pm. I have now learnt never to underestimate the chilling power of standing fairly still in cold wind! This time I made it through to midnight, thanks to wearing all the jumpers (literally). …
What I wasn’t prepared for was a camera crew inserting itself into conversations unannounced, demanding we stop speaking English, and generally being a bit of a nuisance, without asking if it was ok. I’m not sure if this is the same crew who wants the Longyearbyen community to re-produce our midsummer party again for the camera on Tuesday (!), but if it is then as much as I like a party, I doubt I’ll be joining in this time. Though we all like to think we know what a set up TV is usually, seeing this process happen and imagining what kind of result will be produced made me think about a few things:

  • Though at times ethics forms, committees and the like can seem bureaucratic and annoying, what they stand for is important and worthwhile – general courtesy to others to think about the effects of our research and to simply ask if it’s ok.
  • Although academics are under pressure to rack up experience with the media and make an ‘impact’ these days, I’ll be thinking carefully about what I get involved with.
  • Authenticity is an interesting driver and lens to think about. Who decides what fits here and on what grounds? In this example, sure, Norwegian is the dominant nationality and language in Longyearbyen. Another important characteristic is its internationality which often means English is a language of convenience, for better or worse…
  • The agency of the camera and film crew, this had real and tangible effects on the atmosphere and micro-mobilities of the groupings round the fire. On this occasion it meant some of us were moving around in an effort to edit ourselves out, whilst others were intent on ‘getting in’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s