Up for grabs? II

June 14, 2007

Sam Mircovich Reuters LA-based Senior Editor in Charge, Entertainment Pictures reports back from the recent NPPA Multimedia Immersion bootcamp. 
“The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium / that is, of any extension of ourselves / result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.” – Marshall McLuhan
To hear the National Press Photographers Association tell it, still photojournalists must adapt to the demands off the new medium – online journalism – or risk losing their jobs in a Web 2.0 world. Earlier this month, the NPPA held its Multimedia Immersion boot camp in Portland, Oregon, where traditional still photojournalists were faced with the reality that their role in the newsroom is changing.

Among the new skills photojournalist must possess are the ability to shoot video for the web, gather clean sound, and program flash multimedia presentations. Many photojournalism students in the United States are being schooled in these programs already.

Rich Beckham, a professor of multimedia design and production at the University of North Carolina, put it bluntly. “Still photojournalists have been whining about video for years’ he said, “Shut up and get over it and learn Final Cut Pro (a video editing program) and get back to journalism and story telling.”
The Immersion program offered a 4-day hands on workshop for still photographers, who put down their Canons and Nikons in favor of video cameras and sound equipment.
For newsrooms struggling with their web presence, Regina McCoombs from the Minneapolis Star Tribune offered tips on how the photo department can lead the way rather than follow. She suggests the photo departments must collaborate more with print reporters and web designers, and build good ideas from bad ones. Richard Martinez from the San Jose Mercury News and multimediashooter.com ( http://multimediashooter.com/ ) also suggests that the photo department ‘be the bridge to build relationships” to share information, train and communicate. He warns photographers “…don’t be an ass…(the idea) that photographers driving news scares the crap out of the newsroom…”.

Jim Seida, senior multimedia producer for MSNBC.com, gave tips to how photographers should collect good audio on their subjects. “When you read a caption (on a still image) you read your voice into the caption, not your subjects voice.” Clean audio allows the subject to tell their story, which he feels is more important than the same story being filtered through a reporter. He also suggests that pictures have inherent sound, and photographers should chase down that sound to lead to more pictures.

Veteran White House photojournalist Dirck Halstead, editor and publisher of The Digital Journalist ( http://digitaljournalist.org/ ) feels photographers have the opportunity to move from their “second class citizen’ status.” In this new mode of visual storytellers, (photographers) “could be the saviours in web transition.

Tom Kennedy Managing Editor for Multimedia for the Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive and cited the work of communications theorist Marshall McLuhan and is blown away by his vision 50 years ago, which predicted web story telling “with accuracy and fidelity” “We are creating and reviving an alternative language… telling stories with a minimum of filtration.”
So what do you think? Is this the end for still news photography as we know it? Is video just a faster motor drive or is this the dawn of a new age of visual story-telling?


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