These are challenging times for visual storytellers, especially those coming out of documentary photography and photojournalism. Fewer print outlets, reduced editorial budgets, and publishers chasing the lowest common denominator as an audience mean getting creative stories published is difficult. The mainstream media – as I have detailed in my posts on the Revolutions in the Media Economy and the New Media Landscape – was suffering financially because of falling circulation long before the ‘credit crunch’ became a recession, but the economic crises that now abound only add to the disruption.
And, yet…these are also exciting times. The web is changing everything, and ‘multimedia’ is the catch-all phrase for these changes. Whether it be audio slideshows, videos, or interactive web sites that build resources and links around photo-films, images are being deployed in conjunction with other media to tell compelling stories and make long-form, in-depth journalism achievable. Brian Storm, founder of the pioneering MediaStorm, made this case well in his 2008 commencement address to University of Missouri journalism graduates.
I began thinking actively about these questions in the summer of 2008 when I had the pleasure of presenting to and learning from a workshop on multimedia at the Dalian College of Image Art in China. At the end of that I chaired a debate on multimedia and the future of photojournalism involving Brian Storm, Dirck Halstead of The Digital Journalist, and Dan Chung of The Guardian. Many of the issues we covered were surveyed in the Spring 2010 Nieman Reports special issue on “Visual Journalism: Fresh Approaches and New Business Strategies for the Multimedia Age” that I contributed to. And all this provided great background when I came to direct the 2013 World Press Photo multimedia project.
I’m also interested in making as well as analysing. ‘Multimedia’ allows collaborative work on projects that tell important stories visually. You can see details and links to the work I have been doing – The Boarding House, Living in the Shadows, and Laygate Stories – through such collaborations, as well as the video project I shot and produced for the West End Refugee Service in Newcastle.