Fred Ritchin asks "What do we want from this media revolution?" in "Bending The Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen."
He takes us through the history of visual storytelling, and reflects on changes in media curation and distribution, including the 24 hours news cycle, the disappearance of the front page, the role of photo editing in dictating what photos get witnessed, stereotypes, and participatory content, among many other topics.
"Bending The Frame" is a must-read for any media maker who wants to explore the role of images today.
Below are some excerpts that I'm still thinking about:
Challenging the responsibility of editors: "Images that might provoke new thinking, or that might aid in the search for even a partial solution to societal problems, tend to be displaced by those that are more vividly exotic and render problems as somewhat remote, concerning 'others.'"
The role of journalism has shifted: "Journalistic expertise is disparaged by many as a manifestation more of corporate branding than of knowledge. With reduced budgets, journalism's role becomes increasingly reactive, waiting for the next eruptions; its responsibility as governmental watchdog and societal glue is diminished..."
The craft of storytelling: "Anyone can write--amateurs and professionals alike--but very few can take us to visit worlds external and internal, tie them together, melding facts and suppositions while creating a narrative flow that functions like a great piece of fiction..."
The importance of having connection and perspective: "Although it is not really possible to see 'objectively,' the tension of being both insider and outsider simultaneously is potentially enormously productive, allowing the open-minded photographer to function along the translucent membrane where the two worlds overlap."
An idea for future media makers: "Why don't we have a more developed photography that explores in some depth the move from pain to it's resolution, creating reference points for those striving to more forward, rather than continually searching for, and dwelling on, the cataclysm--reminding us of traumatic moments for the sake of the visceral shock. Why do so many young photographers want to become photographers of war when nearly every one of them, I have little doubt, prefers peace?"
How small experiments can push an entire field forward: "Innovative visual journalists could be urged to experiment with new media strategies that may be of value not only to readers of this front page, but to the entire documentary field."
Where do we want to go with media? "As we consider where we want to go with our media, we need to think about what models will serve not only our needs but also our values, and then experiment to see how such models can be implemented."
Truly understanding the role of (multi)media: "...Innovators will undoubtedly discover that 'multimedia' is not a process of simply adding more media, but of implicit relationships made resonant among the most divergent of media..."