The web has promoted a revolution in media delivery and consumption, and has generated a similar paradigm shift in production processes and work flows. Whether for the corporate giants of this world, or the lonely writer crafting a masterpiece in his or her garret.
Evidence of the changes in news and visual media were well illustrated in a recent RSA lecture by John Ryley, Head of Sky News. His father, he tells us, was a vicar’s son, who was profoundly affected by his son’s elevation to the ranks of journalism.
You can hear the lecture, and an introduction by Matthew Taylor of The RSA, with an audience Q&A, by using the audio player below…
In his lecture John Ryley describes his own early acquaintance with television. Describing it as a pseudo-religious experience, with the family sitting in rows, silent, facing an iconic piece of equipment, bathed in a particular blue light.
Web technologies and new software have also promoted a similar revolution in print journalism, which that and the ubiquitous access that the web offers to any journalist, would be or otherwise, the chance to profoundly affect their ability as humans to tell simple stories.
Why do we write, and become journalists, historians, authors, self published or otherwise? Has technology really affected the way we look at the word on paper and on screen?
George Orwell, writing in 1946, mapped the landscape of why we write. That perceptive voice is still being heard from Manhattan offices to Cumbrian writerly retreats…
- “Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed”.
- “Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity”.
- “Political purpose. — Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude”.
Collected Essays, by George Orwell, Why I Write (1946) http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au
Orwell’s philosophy of the narrative is being flexed for the internet age at the The New York Times. Long an innovator in print journalism technology, they have recently published an article on the creation of their new back office production engine for the newspaper.
What is trans-figurative for New York Times journalists is the new focus on web and mobile as the default primary templates in this production process. The ability to blend digital content for traditional press production is not an incidental or trivial outcome, it is imperative to keep ‘paper on the street’, but it is a secondary outcome of the creative writing and editorial process. This is new.
It is also interesting that it is not only production processes and outputs that are being blended. The Mozilla Foundation, creator of the Firefox web browser and scion of the radical, open internet, has recently been the recipient of a grant “…of roughly $3.9 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which promotes innovation in journalism”.
With the money Mozilla will build a new ‘comments’ software for the New York Times and the Washington Post. It is remarkable that both newspapers are the properties of major league capitalists, but this non-profit initiative is geared to giving readers the chance to generate content, and to take part in the journalistic process by offering the writers direct feedback on their articles in new and innovative ways.
A new blend of capital, charity and community engagement, which may well transform newspaper publishing?
Finally, amidst all this corporate activity and development at scale, technological innovation for the lone writer has not been lagging behind. From your own desk you can change the world one article at a time by using the services of Medium – a mixture of blogging platform, paid for content, social networking and collaboration tool.
With a beautifully designed interface, and tools that are intuitive and graceful, you can craft stories, news and research that are delivered in an elegant format to your readers.
We like Medium. Its content can be challenging and provocative, but it is also a place where the thoughtful, considered article can find a home. From new fiction to a story of how the cellular structure of the nematode worm has an impact on human brain function, sculpted with light…all writing is here. (You can find the worm article here…).
Of course, as an RSA Fellow in the East of England, you could publish your thoughtful piece in the pages of conversationsEAST. That’s new too!
Send copy at any time to editor (at) conversationseast.org …your audience awaits.