Multimedia: The State of the Industry

The short answer: all change.

The short term: no money.

Key insight: Good journalism has always been subsidized.

That’s my quick-and-dirty summary of a report into the state of the multimedia and visual storytelling industry recently released. But don’t let that put you off. What’s also clear is that there is some hope for the visual storyteller. The way ahead might be murky, but some will find a route through it.

In his hour-long presentation to a World Press Photo gathering in April, report author Dr David Cambell summarized the key findings. Listening to the podcast of that presentation, I found Campbell’s clear, measured presentation of the information primarily pragmatic, yet imbued with elements of hope — both for the future of journalism and for the ability of news gatherers and individual practitioners to earn a living from their craft.

Visual Storytelling in the Age of Post Industrial Journalism: download the full research report.

 

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Simple imagery says it all

Prosthetics on the sofa

What a great image used on the cover of the latest issue of World Press Photo’s ENTER online mag!

Laura Boushnak respected her subject, who did not want to be photographed, and captured this image of his prosthetic limbs left behind on the sofa in a Palestinian refugee camp when he went to bed.
This is powerful, poignant and sensitive storytelling – proving those terms are not mutually exclusive.

Journalism now

See the post below, where I’ve just been introduced to a great blog (thanks, Lizane Louw!) at http://www.12thpress.com, where Nicholas Calcott summarises the predicament and our frustrations most articulately.

He references Colin Pantell’s blog (which in turn references Paul Lowe), but all base their discussion on a provocative speech by Stephen Mayes, who recently retired as secretary of World Press Photo. “Mayes questions why people photograph in a way that replicates – why do photojournalists photograph like ‘photojournalists’, why does 90% of their work come from 10% of the world?

I’m writing from Cairo right now, where I’m involved in training for the Twenty Ten project, which ironically has World Press Photo as one of the main partners, and this issue of emulation is one that is bothering me today. On this particular training module (of which there are four across Africa), we have 24 radio and print journalists from 13 different African nations, and yet I am concerned about the lack of variety I am seeing in their assignment work. Is this because they lack professionalism, creativity or initiative? No, certainly not.

This is some of Africa’s brightest talent, with dinner conversations challenging and insightful. The issue I see is exactly what Mayes was referring to: journalists are producing the content that they think they should. They’re following the old rules. In trying to be as professional as possible, they’re adhering to a dated code.

I believe that this code needs to be brought in line with the realities of modern society, rather than our (we, the media) continually lamenting the unravelling of the edges, the blurring of the lines between citizen and professional journalism.

Mayes encouraged photographers to ‘photograph what really, really intrigues you’, commenting that ‘In general what is really missing in photojournalism is work that is really intimate and personal’. I’ll second that. And I believe it applies to all types of journalism, as well as to most modes of photography.