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Thursday, March 19, 2015

I Love the Way Technology Has Turned Average People Into Folksy Journalists





Here on Canada's east coast, we've been slammed yet again with a record-breaking snowfall only days before the official start of spring.

Once upon a time, in order to moan and complain about it, one would have to first dig out, then gather together at that great shrine of Canadiana, Tim Horton's in order to compare snowbank horror stories. One could glance through the newspaper a day or so later and look at awe-inspiring photojournalism capturing the most outrageous of the unfair snowdumps. On the local news broadcast, there would be a weather segment where the unlucky junior correspondents had been sent out into the thick of the storm so we could watch them from the warmth of our homes.

In major newspapers these days, there is a trend to let go of the photojournalists altogether, including staff at The Chicago-Sun Times, Reuters and Sports Illustrated.

Yes, Sports Illustrated.

"Giles Crouch, an industry observer with Thistlewood Critical Digital Intelligence, says the decision [to lay off English-language newspaper photojournalists at three newspapers] is a sign of the times.
'It’s what we call, in the industry, "digital disruption," said Crouch.
'We’ve seen it with Uber disrupting the taxi industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry, so this is just digital cameras disrupting the news media — and it’s a business, it’s the bottom line,' he said." -- CTV News Atlantic
Having always been a huge fan of photojournalism, I feel a deep sadness that this process of evolution is taking hold. Quick snapshots taken on the fly will never hold the same power as shots composed by a trained eye, and taken by someone who has years of experience with his or her camera equipment.
However, in the same breath I find the unveiling of mass captures of an event on social media to be an incredible source of anthropological documentation.
The very technology which makes newspaper owners feel that their skilled photographers are suddenly redundent, opens coverage of major events to a far more wide-ranging scope. Yet the story bytes are by nature even more personal because of their sources.
Here are a few examples of the latest March 18th snowstorm coverage on Twitter from the people who lived through it -- including yours truly.
"Tweeting from inside a snow tunnel. Because snow. #snowmageddon2015" -- Mike MacPhail



"If you're calling to check on your family in the Maritimes and they're not picking up, it's because they're shovelling." -- 22Minutes

Okay, that one was by a paid comedy writer.




"If we get anymore snow I am going to the library and wait for Dennis Quaid to come rescue me. #snowpocalypse2015" -- Russell Bateman




"5 feet tall + 10 feet of snow - plowed side walks = [four skull faces]" -- nat




"My neighbour's house is disappearing #PEI @Snowmageddon2015" -- Kelly Lantz





"my parents rly know how to handle the snow @Cindyfin64: The only way to shovel. #halifax #snowmageddon2015" -- stephanie finanders

What say you? Do you enjoy watching stories unfold through the eyes of regular Joes? Do you think journalism will suffer without quality image documentation? Or are iPhones good enough?




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