There’s been a lot written
this past week regarding Advance Publications’ decision to scale back to
publishing several of their daily newspapers to three days a week. As you can
imagine, this is an unsettling topic among journalists who make their living documenting
the daily news.
As a 20-year staff
photographer/multimedia journalist, I can more than relate to many of the fears
my fellow journalists harbor in an ever-changing industry.
In many ways, I feel like the
industry has reached a major crossroads where the decisions that are made now
will ultimately result in the success or failure of local newspapers as we know
them. One of those decisions will involve the direction of news photography and
videography and the work flow issues associated there in.
As consumers of local news
turn increasingly toward the Internet for information, local newspaper
organizations are faced with the challenge of producing visual content on par
with local television news websites and large metro dailies.
Although still photography is
still undoubtedly a valuable tool, the web offers the ability to tell stories
visually with much greater sophistication than traditional photo pages or
As consumers’ web use
increases, so too will the demand for sophisticated visual story telling.
Moving pictures will become the norm, whether in the form of audio slideshows
or short timely videos. The pace at which the majority of people now consume
news and information is not conducive to spending significant amounts of time
with single still photos on a web page. In many ways it’s a chicken and egg workflow
dilemma for photographers.
In keeping with the our corporate digital
first mindset, I believe multimedia journalists need to think video first and
still photography second. Sporting events maybe the exception to this when the
desire to freeze motion is paramount. With the increasing capabilities of HDSLR
cameras, frame grabs and greater Internet
band width, still photography will play an increasingly smaller role in the web
world. I envision a day where the majority of images on a web page will be
clickable and stream a corresponding video.
While some stories may be
suitable for a one-man band approach, others merit a thoughtful team approach.
Visual and audio problem solving is typically second nature for today’s photojournalist.
The increasing demand for social media and real time, live news coverage has
created an opportunity for photojournalists and reporters alike.
It’s through well equipped teamwork
that local newspaper organizations will provide the sophisticated visual story
telling that will be the rule not the exception in the new news ecology.