by Nils Zurawski / 20. 1. 1998
This research report tries to examine the process of researching a topic and developing it in to a programme which then was broadcasted by Spiegel TV. This reports intends to show the development of research tools and a critical review of the process and the collaboration itself.
The general collaboration with Spiegel TV for the three programmes consisted of an individual partnership between the authors and one researcher respectively. Forensics was my field in collaboration with Paul Elstner on the side of Spiegel TV.
The first step was a general Internet research on the subject of forensics, including most or all of its subcategories (f-medicine, f-accounting, f- pathology, etc.). A special focus was given to those resources that offered images, stills and moving, on the subject.
The results of these researches, which took. 2-3 days, were compiled in a storyboard abstract, a technique developed by the EPS project during earlier researches on other topics. This storyboard abstract contained all information on the different aspects of interest regading the topic of forensics, i.e. the aspects the EPS-project research team agreed upon in an earlier meeting. Each of these aspects represented a short feature which should have been made into a film as part of the broadcasted programme.
The soryboard-abstract was a continous work in progress, which reflected the state of the research efforts and of the material found - on and off the Internet.
The original intention of the storyboard abstracts was to serve as a guideline for the authors at Spiegel TV for their filming and writing for the programme. An ongoing exchange of ideas and research results should have been established, but was not fully developed throughout the process.
Spiegel TV and ist authors were not giving much attention to the storyboard, but developed their own aspects and features - mostly based on what has been researched earlier at Spiegel and/or Spiegel TV on this topic.
An exchange was made between me and Paul Elstner, regarding the topics he has choosen to be made into films for the programme. I was now looking for particular texts on these aspect - most of which were already part of the forensic storyboard-abstract. I was updating the abstract during this process according to the needs of Paul Elstner - especially texts for later commentary, without restricting the storyboard abstract to the aspects choosen by him. Therefore the abstract always contained his material as well as additional material which was never used in the film(s), but which was accompanying the programme as a website on Spiegel-Online (a 1:1 copy of my site)
In the final stage of the editing process I was sendiing Paul Elstner printed versions (via fax) of the texts, marked for a use in the commentary of the films. These texts were especially focused on the context of forensics in modern criminal techniologies and practicies, such as DNA-databases.
The whole process of collaboration between me and Paul Elstner was critical, as my work was only peripheral to his work and the outlook of the final programme. Although I had easily found most of the resources he later was relying on for his films, he did not recognize my work as being a possibility for more and maybe richer information on some of the aspects. In addition, aspects, such as white collar crime, which is a big field in modern forensics today, was not paid any attention to. The final films therefore presented little new, besides the well known, ballistics, language identification and DNA-analyses.
The presentation of the programme though, added some quality and context to the films, as some aspects and cases were put into perspective by the moderator and her guest in the studio.
Future collaborations must be a genuine collaboration from the very start, with the exchange of ideas and aspects made together by the researcher/s and the author/s. Deeper contexts as well as richer and newer aspects of a given topic can only be achieved by implementing other forms of collaboration and communication among the team members. The storyboards and its abstracts proofed to be a very useful tool among the EPS-project members. These should be further developed and tested for a use in the production of science programmes as planned by the EPS-Information Project and Spiegel-TV.
Other parts like the editing process must be made more transparent to the researchers as there are still important possbilities to deepen the content of a film, if only the researchers know about the structures and narratives of these films at any stage of the production process.
Better results may also be achieved if the way is changed how topics are choosen in the first place.