Technology, and a defense of the printed newspaper.

So you now have to pay to read the New York Times online. That is, if you read it a lot online. And you go to it directly, instead of following links to articles. Or something like that. I won't pretend I read the whole breakdown. But it seems inevitable and even reasonable to me, especially with the way it's set up, which I have heard described as more of a pay fence than a pay wall.

My wife and I subscribe to the paper edition, as we got an introductory deal which meant that daily home delivery worked out cheaper than buying the Sunday paper every week (which is what I was doing - plus I'd often buy it at least one other day to read on the train or something, cos I don't have an Ipad, and I hate squinting at a mobile phone screen). The price will go up when our 12 week offer runs out, but then we'll probably just juggle the subscription to a weekend delivery or something, which will still be cheaper than buying it on the news stand on Sunday and also give us unlimited digital access. If we didn't live within spitting distance of NYC then I wonder if we would still subscribe...

Anyway, this rambling explanation of my news consuming habits has a point. Yesterday I was reading the paper on the train. The business section to be exact. Now, I rarely check out the business news when I read the NY Times online, but in it's physical form, I at least flick though and scan every single page of every single section. And here's the thing, I discovered 3 articles in the business section relating to, in turn, long-form online journalism, social media & activism and online mapping, all of which I found interesting and all of which I would probably have missed had I been only using the website. Online, I often am looking for something specific, rather than browsing. Only if someone recommends an article to me, or if it's on the front page of the website, or linked to from an article I am reading, will I check it out. Never will I go through every new published article online. And this is habit, and my defense of the printed page. Now I fully expect the printed edition of newspapers to become less than daily not far into the future, but until then, I will continue to pick up the paper, and scan every page, and discover some gems I may have missed.

Oh, and those articles? Here, here, and here. Enjoy.


ER my Arse

Many many years ago, when I had time to do this sort of thing, I used to sit in a caf in South East London, drinking endless cups of cheap tea and basically chatting with whoever was at the table in conversations that often made about as much sense as those engaged in by the characters at the mad hatter's tea party (which depending on your point of view is either a lot or none at all.)

On one of these afternoons (they were rarely mornings...), I was introduced to Karen. I cannot remember for the life of me the content of that afternoon's conversation, but I do remember it was wide ranging and enjoyable. Our paths crossed many times while I lived in London, we shared many close mutual friends and it was always a joy to see her and catch up. Karen is one of those rare artists whose conceptual approach is as practical as it is intellectual.

After the recent global news events it was an absolute joy to hear of her latest project. So, if you are, like me, currently reeling from what she calls 'the brutality of reality' then please check out the video below.



Stamp duty : ER my arse from del che on Vimeo.




Karen will be opposite the Houses of Parliament, between 1-4pm on the 22nd & 29th March for a series of happenings and she's exhibiting at the Bird's Nest, 32 Deptford Church Street, SE8 4RZ until Sunday 3rd April. That's a pub, by the way...



Crowdsourcing

Funding photojournalism though crowdsourcing - which is the new term for soliciting donations - is all very well and good and I fully support those looking to fund their work through sites such as Emphas.is and Kickstarter, and you can be sure I'll be looking to fund some of my own projects this way (at least in part) as it's no joke working with no budget and doing things on spec, especially the long form in-depth stuff many of us really want and need to do.

There are issues that have been raised in relation to accountability and integrity when basically asking the public to fund a journalists work, and there is the issue of the mainstream media seeing crowd funding as a way to avoid using their own budgets, but these problems - though important - are ones that already exist with the current/previous financial model. Corporations want to buy products, not pitches. It is a rare thing to get a cheque up front. Integrity and accountability should always be scrutinised, no matter where the money is coming from, and in some cases, especially because of where the money is coming from.

One thing that troubles me though is the audience. Where will the work be shown, and to what purpose? Does crowdfunding only stoke the fire that turns photojournalism in on itself so that we end up with a situation where work is being funded by the photojournalism community, produced by the photojournalism community and distributed amongst the photojournalism community with little regard to those outside of this little world? An analogy might be a church congregation, with the plate being passed around during a service and a pastor preaching to the choir.

Of course, we should support our colleagues and our community - the congregation in the church of journalism let's call it - but those who we really need to reach are the ones who currently spend their money on the gossip rags, the producers of entertainment and celebrity tittle tattle who call it news and the advertisers who want us to buy their products without question or even thought. If crowdfunding can bring us together, make us stronger both in terms of community and finances so that we may take on the producers of dross and distraction then I am all for it, but if I can get my project funded, only to have it displayed as thankyou prints in the homes of my backers and at a photojournalism festival, then I am doing no more good than if I had put the whole thing on my credit card myself.

Let's use these tools to spread the word and look for sources of income beyond our peers, not to turn inward and bleed ourselves dry while no one notices.


The Lyttelton Earthquake


The other week, an earthquake struck New Zealand. While much of the media focused on the town of Christchurch, the actual epicenter was the town of Lyttleton. I have a couple of close friends who live in the town. They had bought a run down property and were in the process of renovating it themselves. While there was some loss of life, luckily they and their young daughter are unhurt. Their house, while intact, is threatened with destruction by unstable land and they are currently being told to stay away. I've never visited the town but I lived with these wonderful people for years in London. The town of Lyttleton sounds like a wonderful place to live and the residents are asking for help to allow them to rebuild their town and community. If you are so inclined, read more below and please help them out.

By the way, click on the photo above to discover a novel way to raise funds for the relief effort...




Love Lyttelton

On 22nd February a violent 6.3 magnitude earthquake brought widespread
destruction across Christchurch. Lyttelton was the epicentre of this
devastation. Hundreds of homes, historic buildings, and virtually all
businesses lie in ruin. Many have lost their livelihoods and still
more are displaced, disorientated, or left grieving for the loss of a
family member, friend or colleague. As the ground continues to rumble
we focus on the now, on each other, taking small steps into an
uncertain future.

As each day dawns the realisation of what we have lost sinks in a
little more, but as each day dawns we also stand a little taller,
together, and realise that the inspiration and strength of this
community is not in its bricks and mortar but in its people, their
passion and compassion, their energy and spirit and that has not been
broken. Together we dare to look to the future.

Before 22nd February Lyttelton was an exciting vibrant little town,
taking bold steps towards sustainability, exploring new ways to create
and nurture community. Lyttelton had created an invaluable community
radio, highly successful farmers market, thriving volunteer network
and time bank, community garden, grow local co-operative, information
centre and supportive local business network to mention but a few
initiatives. All these are in jeopardy as a result of last week’s
earthquake.

Already, only days after tragedy there is talk amongst this resilient
community about not just rebuilding what we have lost but of using it
as a chance to create something new. Already minds are whirring,
imaginations sparked and hearts focused on creating a sustainable,
bright, better place, a Lyttelton of and for the future.

If you feel moved to be part of this creation, if you are able to help
us regenerate in a clean, green, sustainable, community focused way,
then please follow this link and donate to Lyttelton today.

http://www.lyttelton.net.nz/earthquake/make-a-donation

You can also find us on facebook... search for Love Lyttelton and like
the page.



Project Lyttelton is a registered charitable trust that has been
working in and for the community for many years. Project Lyttelton
will engage the whole of the community in how best any funds are
invested.

The 68th POYI Award

There is so much good work on display in the winners galleries of the Pictures of the Year International Awards that I can't choose a single one to put up here as a teaser. Quite simply, I advise you to turn off your phone, brew a pot of coffee or two and sit down in front of your computer. If anyone asks you what you're doing just tell them "Shhh, I'm learning something."

My only complaint is that there is some repetition in the stories and that there are a lot of stories from North America, but that is a minor quibble, especially when you have so many harrowing tales of gun violence (for example) told so well. Makes you think doesn't it...

Check it out. All of it.

http://www.poyi.org/index.php#schedule