I’m pleased to announce that I am directing a research project for World Press Photo – under the auspices of the World Press Photo Academy and supported by the FotografenFederatie (Dutch Photographers Association) – that will map the global emergence and development of multimedia in visual storytelling, especially photojournalism.
‘Multimedia’ is an imprecise and problematic term, and some refer to ‘photo films’ or ‘web documentaries’. While not a replacement for other approaches, these concept point to an emerging consensus in photojournalism that, , presenting a story through a combination of images, sound, and text offers a number of advantages. Stories are able to provide greater context and give their subjects a voice, while being easily distributed through new digital channels (the web, apps) that are no longer constrained by the limited space of print publications. However, one of the major challenges is to see how the production of quality content through these means can be supported and expanded.
This project, underway now and to report by next April, will examine these issues through a comparative study looking at multimedia trends in three parts of the world: the USA, Europe, and China. In each of these locations, this study will ask five general questions:
1. How is multimedia being produced?
2. How is multimedia being financed?
3. How is multimedia being published and distributed, and who is publishing/distributing multimedia?
4. How are viewers consuming multimedia?
5. Which types of multimedia attract the most attention, and what are the criteria of success?
The aim is to have a comprehensive survey that makes clear what is possible and practical. I don’t envisage defining what ‘multimedia’ is or is not: rather we want to see the full range of what is happening globally and how it is being made possible, and what we can learn from that for the future.
The research is going to involve a combination of secondary literature and primary interviews with key players. I am also keen for anyone interested in the topic to contribute, so will be making appeals for information from the photographic community.
There is a dedicated email address for the project, so please get in touch at david (at) worldpressphoto.org.
A final note: as an independent research and practitioner, I make a rule of recusing myself from public comment on organisations who employ me. As a result, while I will continue to publish my own personal analyses on photojournalism here, and I will not be making any comments about any issues relating directly to World Press Photo, the World Press Photo Academy or the FotografenFederatie while working on this project.