Journalism: It. . .Lives!
In the midst of a deep trough of bad news about the news business–the L.A. Times newsroom prepping for about 150 going-away parties, 60 folks heading for the emergency exits at the Baltimore Sun, 140 [40 percent of the news staff!?!] left stranded on Palm Beach–I received a link in my e-mail box that made me feel something like hope.
The Online News Association has relaunched something it calls Interactive Narratives. It’s essentially an gallery of good multimedia journalism, posted wiki-style by members of the Online News Association [conflict of interest note: I attended one of their parties once, but only coughed up membership dues a few weeks ago].
Even though it’s just launched, it’s already full of interesting stuff that demonstrates that at least some journalists have quit whining and are learning to tell stories with something other than 26 letters.
But this effort doesn’t suffer from the precious self-love of a juried competititon. These aren’t proclaimed the best of anything (though some have won various awards). Many are just pretty good examples that show what multimedia journalists are producing these days.
Take, for instance, Strange Genius: Tesla + New York, by the public radio station WNYC. It arranges on a Google map a collection of photos and sound clips that describe the electricity pioneer’s adventures around Manhattan. This is not prize-worthy stuff, but that’s the point. It’s workmanlike multimedia journalism, the digital eqiuvalent of the not-bad 45-inch feature story.
On the other hand, some stuff is so outre it’s hard to describe with mere words.
Take The Whale Hunt, for instance. It appears to be a week-in-the-life gallery over over 3,000 photos documenting a whale hunt. But it presents one of the most dynamic and intellectually demanding navigations I’ve seen. The photography is world-class. The design is remarkable. But the framework is so high-concept that you nearly get a nosebleed just trying to find a picture of a stinkin’ whale.
Perfect work? Once again, no. But a striking example of what happens when interesting minds interact with something other than words and paper.
Is the Andina [of Peru] multimedia package a winner? Hard for me to tell, since it’s in Spanish. But just clicking around, I’m guessing it’s a more culturally sophisticated and richly nuanced tribute to the potato than you’ll find in your daily paper.
Anyway, as the bad news mounts about pulp-and-petroleum journalism, it’s bracing to see the creative approaches to story-telling that are taking shape elsewhere.
Meantime, with so many journalists newly on the job market, it’s worth noting that the Online News Association is hiring.