World Press Photo has, in recent years, taken a greater interest in the role of multimedia in photojournalism, introducing its first Multimedia Prize in 2011. Now, with the support of the Dutch Photographers Association, it's looking to map "the global emergence and development of multimedia in visual storytelling".
"The global media economy is undergoing a profound transformation," says World Press Photo. "Hastened by the disruptive power of the internet, we are witnessing the disaggregation of traditional news forms. Audiences for online platforms and digital formats are growing, while the circulation of established newspapers and magazines in Europe and North America are, with few exceptions, declining. In this context, there is a general sense among photojournalists that 'multimedia' formats are becoming increasingly important."
David Campbell, a researcher and academic, will lead the survey, which will be completed by April 2013. "The goal is to provide comprehensive, practical knowledge about what people in different places are doing with this thing called ‘multimedia', he tells BJP. "What I want to stress to everyone is that we're not going to define what multimedia is – they can web documentaries, photo-films, etc. What we want to do is try, as best as possible, to provide a sort of global survey about the different forms, what people are doing and, more importantly, who's funding it. Is it getting sold? If so, how? If not, why not?"
Campbell has already started his research and, he says, he's been surprised at how little has been written about multimedia work in photojournalism. "I've wanted to see whether journalism publications and academic journals had written about these things; so far I haven't been able to find anything significant. I don't think there's much actual research done on this – apart from articles and features in the specialist press."
World Press Photo will be bringing experts together in three regions of the world – the US, Europe and China. "The ambition is global in that sense, but we know it's inevitably going to be partial because we don't have enough people, enough money or enough time to look at every market and every possibility," says Campbell.
But, one of his goals will be to explain, for example, the disparities in the production of multimedia works between France and the UK. "[I want to] bridge that gap. It's a curious thing when a lot is happening in one media economy, and nothing in the one next door."
The project has already begun and will conclude with a public presentation of findings at the end of April 2013. Campbell welcomes submissions for his research. Interested parties are encouraged to contact him at david(at)worldpressphoto.org.
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