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Panpa Bulletin : Oct-Nov-December 2007
feature We should offer a unique news envi- ronment built on a 24-hour cycle with an emphasis on deadlines that meet our demographics. If people are mostly visiting your site at 6-8pm then every effort should be made to make your best product available at that time. What are your thoughts about the 'all-rounder' reporters and the type of content being produced by them? It's my hope that we have always identified ourselves as journalists first and foremost. I seldom refer to a writer at a newspaper as a 'reporter' because I consider that word entirely too generic. As a photojournalist, I am also a reporter. A writer reports with words and a photojour- nalist does so with images. However, the trend in newspapers to cre- ate more synergy in newsrooms answers the call for increased coverage with rich content. It recognises that we are in a digital era where we can better meet the vast, almost limitless, array of opportunities presented by new forms of dissemination. Add to this the potential of citizen journalism, and the world as we know it will be reported from every nook and cranny. Ultimately, the reader or viewer will benefit provided we hold to the tenets of fair and accurate journalism. The role of a journalist has always been to ethically inform for the better- ment of society. Today that call to service can be heard on all fronts through words, images, audio and video and delivered to the winds of the world upon the winds of digital change. This is convergence on a scale never seen before. To help answer the call, training in all forms of communication should be staff-wide. But content remains the reigning king. If news organisations fail in this area, omeone else will pick up the baton and finish the race. This is a call to hold true to the founda- ion of solid reporting. We will lose market hare if we do not hold to the tenets of great ournalism. That does not mean staid reporting; it means a foundation on which to build new markets and revenue while creatively seek- ng new ways to speak powerful truths. How can newspaper companies lever- age new content to the betterment of their overall offering in the future? News and information organisations are facing more competition than any time in their history. Readers and viewers are offered an almost limitless choice. A decade from now, tomorrow's fringe web site could become bigger than the New York Times. Bloggers are breaking major news stories. YouTube is setting record views for viral video. MySpace and Facebook are establishing new standards for community development. The virtual realm is meeting the real world and web 3.0 will define and refine it. If there is any single aspect of our future that troubles me most it is that our industry is still blinded by its past. We see ourselves as founding fathers when we should be seeing ourselves as pioneers. We hold the potential to be both at once. But our industry is often sluggish and resistant. We are notoriously risk averse and usu- ally reluctant to make the outlandish moves of our competitors who have their fingers on the pulse of society and move like water over oil to meet its rapidly changing needs. We laud our successes while we should be thinking of our failures. The famed photojournalist W. Eugene Smith reportedly said, "Your pictures are never good enough." He lived his life in constant pursuit of a goal that could never be achieved. I am not enough. I can be more than I was yesterday. That is the mindset that is required of us today. Ultimately, through the power of journal- ism translated into virtual worlds we hold the keys to vast market share. The truth missed most in our industry is that we are 'there' already if we can learn to be our self in a 'new' way. We must be in a constant state of change while never moving from our foundation. We are much like a tree rooted in the forest. We weather the seasons by adaptation. Be innovative but never lose your roots. What are the opportunities for jour- nalists getting trained up and geared up in 'videojournalism' devices? I'm amazed when I see any journalist who is sceptical about new opportunities available to them in this new era. We need to become more like the build- ing industry where a worker is skilled in the completion of a product rather than a single task. Photojournalists need to learn how to write and writers need to learn how to take pictures. Both of them need to learn skills in video because it is an important medium for reaching hearts and minds. I often think of my wife who was a photo- journalist at the Dallas Morning News. She was doing a major project about two young boys from Egypt, conjoined twins, who were in Dallas to be separated by surgery. She worked for more than a year on the story and produced some amazing still images. One night, as she headed for another visit to the hospital, she grabbed her 'point-and- shoot' still camera with a video function to shoot some video. When she got home with the video, I marvelled at it and created a short video for our online readers. The next day, in California, a reader of our web site saw the video and became the primary benefactor of the two children and their family. It was not the great writing that moved him to act. It was not the great still photos either. It was a simple video. So, when I face a journalist who asks me why they should become involved, I ask them, "Why not?" because through this new digital realm and the extensive array of op- portunity it presents, we also find an exten- sive array of tools that can affect the hearts and minds of readers for positive change. CONNECT David Leeson Executive Producer -- Video and New Media The Dallas Morning News email@example.com PANPA Bulletin October-November-December 2007 27 D j
August September 2007