Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why should I attend? What’s in it for me?
Archaeology is not being well served by media, nor are other professions that deal in cultural heritage. To ensure that media serve your interests, you and other interested parties need to play an active role in media development. You should attend and participate in order to add impetus to this movement within your profession. Further, by taking part, you will connect with a large network of like-minded people and organizations and thereby enhance your own career development in an area that is sure to become more and more important.
Why should SAA members participate?
The SAA has always encouraged its members to take an active role in public affairs. Over the past several years, prompted by reality TV shows that caused concern among the membership, the SAA has assembled task forces to consider how to influence and employ media to deliver our messages about the ethics and value of exploring the human past. However, task forces represent only a first step. TAC Conference on Cultural Heritage Media is a logical next step, involving archaeologists in the media development process itself. We encourage our colleagues to:
- Stop complaining about media portrayals of archaeology and do something about it.
- Get familiar with media people and the media process.
- Play a concrete role in shaping media to deliver the true messages of archaeology.
- Help archaeology take a leading role in media programming development.
- Share your ideas through a professional paper, symposium or forum.
- Be part of the group that spawned a new vision for cultural heritage media in the 21st Century.
What are “audiovisual media”?
The word “media” is used in many different ways, so we want to make clear that our focus is on the use of moving visual images (primarily cinema and video productions) and audio productions (such as radio and audio podcasts as well as movie and video sound tracks. We are not referring to print or Web media, although publishers and Web sites certainly depend lots on video to reach their audiences.
Why are you organizing this Conference now? Why is this an important time to discuss cultural heritage media?
At this point in time, the media world is in a state of flux because of developments in audiovisual technology and a widespread exploration of and experimentation in new media. Professional disciplines such as archaeology and education are searching for the best uses of media to convey their messages and information to students and other members of the public. Filmmakers are testing new ways to put their productions in front of audiences and the public is diversifying the ways by which they experience film, video and audio programming. Old media business models are losing their effectiveness in the new media environment, so producers are exploring new ways toward financial viability.
What important issues can be addressed by a Conference such as this?
We see an opportunity and a need here to bring together a diverse array of cultural heritage media stakeholders worldwide in one place at one time to have a big conversation about the future of this genre. Some important questions need to be addressed. For example, to what extent are decisions about media content determined by financial forces? How can independent producers ensure adequate pay for their work? How can producers break into the mainstream of TV program and movie distribution? How can audiences be sure to get accurate and authentic information in the media they experience? How can archaeologists and other cultural heritage researchers suitably convey their perspectives to the public? How can educators find the best media tools to put in front of their students? How can indigenous groups be sure to have their perspectives properly included in media productions?
Can you suggest some ideas for symposia and presentation topics?
The range of possible topics for symposia and presentations at TAC Conference is limitless. To help put your brainstorming wheels in motion, we’ve compiled a list of possible topics, many of them particularly related to the interests of archaeologists. See these below. Those approaching cultural heritage media from other directions would come up with other sets of topics–feel free to do that!
- Media portrayals of archaeology and archaeologists
- The challenges and opportunities of new media and new technology
- New media applications for education
- Why commercial media do not serve the interests of archaeology
- The challenges of developing a cultural heritage media program
- Metal detecting reality TV shows: why they give archaeologists fits
- Chronicling archaeologists’ efforts to influence reality TV shows
- A history of Time Team America
- Does ethics play a role in TV production?
- Cultural heritage media: some good examples
- How we made our cultural heritage TV show
- Media storytelling for archaeology
- My experience working with media professionals
- TV show formats and the quest for ratings
- Education versus entertainment in media productions
- Is TV anti-intellectual?
- How to engage audiences with cultural heritage media
- How to achieve financial success–or at least survival–with cultural heritage media
- The uses of cultural heritage media by educators
- The challenges of operating a cable TV channel that broadcasts cultural heritage programming
- How archaeologists can engage with and influence media productions
- Brainstorming cool shows: programming ideas for cultural heritage media
- Networking for cultural heritage media development
- Understanding audiences and what attracts them
- Ways that cultural heritage professionals can engage with the real world
- How cultural heritage professionals can take control of the media process
- The financial challenges of cultural heritage media
- Media as a form of public outreach
What is your vision for the outcome of this Conference?
The remarkable uncertainties in the new media world suggest that we are at the beginning of a new media paradigm and that wonderful opportunities exist now to spawn a whole new generation of media projects through the creative energies of media professionals and other stakeholders. We intend to bring these people together to jump-start this process and encourage a group consciousness about what is happening and where we are going. The convention-style format for the Conference encourages the kinds of relaxed interaction needed to bring about productive collaborations.
Why do you feel that Archaeological Legacy Institute is especially well positioned to launch such a Conference?
As far as we know, this is the only gathering of its kind. Based on our history and connections, we feel particularly well positioned to organize such an event. For years now, we have organized our film competition (The Archaeology Channel International Film Festival) and our associated conference (The Archaeology Channel Conference on Cultural Heritage Media). We do this to fulfill our nonprofit public mission to tell the human story and to encourage the use of media in the genre of cultural heritage. In the process, we have developed a large and multipronged network of archaeologists, filmmakers, media organizations, educators, indigenous groups, journalists, and others who have an interest in this subject and genre. We continually look for ways to bring people together to develop media tools and projects to enhance human consciousness about our shared legacy. The Conference for us is a logical next step in the effective pursuit of our public mission.
What is the relationship between TAC Conference and TAC Festival?
These two ALI events are very closely integrated. The Archaeology Channel International Film Festival (TAC Festival) from its beginning has been a leading juried film competition in the cultural heritage film genre. It involves public film screenings and the designation of both jury and audience awards. Incorporated within TAC Festival, The Archaeology Channel Conference on Cultural Heritage Media is a convention-style gathering of diverse stakeholders in the cultural heritage media, involving formal presentations and an Exhibit Hall. The Festival, with the Conference, takes place withina five-day span in the same area and the two are closely coordinated to encourage participants to sample all the activities offered. We encourage Conference participants and our general Festival audience to take part in all Festival activities, including the Festival Banquet, film screenings, Conference presentations, the Video Bar, the Exhibit Hall, public lecture by our Keynote Speaker, our tours, the Saturday Social, and the Awards Reception.