A day doesn’t go by when some event, through technology, creates a rush of thought or some flashback to similar events in history. For me, history is a critical component to modern life. Far too often, history is forgotten in the face of new challenges. Current generations, I believe, suffer from the impact of new technologies which creates a “mass redistribution of media” that certainly travels fast but may not necessarily inform.
We are flooded with information and data points through social media to such extremes that only the very good and organized can filter for relevant news while others suffer with great distraction to the point where there is no ability to operate with a deep filtering lens to better understand what is really going on in this world of ours.
In the 60’s, the Vietnam War was played out at the dinner table nightly and served as a constant reminder that “War is Hell” to families all over America. Today, most of the news “media” coverage for war is sanitized, filtered, and carefully packaged into pleasant soundbites giving Americans (and the world) the illusion that all is well without any deeper meaning or message. Notice how the daily barrage of coverage in Iraq and Afghanistan is no longer aired nightly? What has changed? It’s still a conflict with lives being lost on both sides. We are constantly told about an eventual exodus of troops but have the basic pillars for long-term stability been established? What was the long-term mandate? Ask anyone on the street and most forget the reason why troops went. That’s is the modern weakness of news media and journalism. No persistence and and definitely no hard-hitting investigative journalism filled with “WHY”???
This type of deliberate but sanitized news is usually re-hashed by viewers (by almost all of us) as re-tweet or short rant-like status update weakened for the lack of well-researched understanding.
This is hardly what earlier generations would call “investigative journalism” or “knowledgeable” opinion. In the 60’s, news organizations like the Washington Post pushed the limits of their investigative power to the point where a President would step down.
What about the historic photos we all grew up with? The ones that shook to the very core or which told an entire story in one single photo. These photos would famously become part of future TIME Life or newspaper special editions.
Photo journalism is a particular form of journalism (the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast) that creates images in order to tell a news story. It is now usually understood to refer only to still images, but in some cases the term also refers to video used in broadcast journalism. Photojournalism is distinguished from other close branches of photography (i.e., documentary photography, social documentary photography, street photography or celebrity photography) by complying with a rigid ethical framework which demands that the work is both honest and impartial whilst telling the story in strictly journalistic terms. Photojournalists create pictures that contribute to the news media.— Wikipedia
This weekend, I was struck by the photojournalism in a very different way. The photo came by way of an Instagram user. In real-time. Somewhere in Brazil. Sadly, because it was in Portuguese, I was not able to translate the comment threads but the photo was powerful in execution.
What a sad, tragic and powerful photo. This photo instantly created a flashback to other photos I grew up with.
Like these photos:
Perhaps there is a positive lining in all of this tech and social media. Even though we might lose with well-research investigative journalism, we gain with the rise of citizen journalism where photos, previously unavailable to the masses — now instantly available to all of us. Uncensored and uncontrolled.
Whomever the man is in the Instagram photo, I “saw” (and felt) his pain and hopelessness. Real-time and human. Wow.
For good or worse, this is quite a paradigm shift.