When I think of journalism i imagine a newspaper, a magazine and a reporter scribbling away in their notebook. Growing up a journalist was a writer, someone who literally chased down the current events and was on scene. Today however with the addition of the word digital to the phrase it opens a whole new door.
I think about how many views of the news are available to us today and how easy they are to access. When the riots in Ferguson happened we not only had the main stream media view we had the views of people in the marches, watching from the sides. There was a Ustream page which was live broadcast of the events from the eyes of the rioters. That is an incredible example of digital journalism by someone who probably has no journalistic experience whatsoever. That ability however greatly reshapes the idea of news, of current events. Now when we want to know whats happening in the world we can do it by clicking a hashtag or a hyperlink we no longer need to turn on channel 2, 4 or 7. We know whats happening before the evening news is even aired. Its journalism in real time. Even though there may be more fact finding after the event happens we still have the run down and anything that comes after is trivial or opinion based.
The other way the news has changed is through the option of photo and video. We don’t have to read an entire page to know whats going on we can look at a series of pictures or even a video of the event to know. For example yesterday afternoon near the barclays center there was a brawl between rival groups of teens from various area high schools. An onlooker shot video of it and that video sums up the event more than any article ever could (check that out here: http://abc7ny.com/news/video-online-video-shows-student-stabbing-melee-near-barclays-center/995944/ ). Not only does that video tell us what happened it also becomes part of the police investigation, social media posts like that one can catalogue the tensions leading up that and paint an entire picture without a word being written.
Photo based journalism that tells a story through mainly pictures with minimal writing are also changing the journalism world. I think of the popular FB or IG page ( https://www.facebook.com/humansofnewyork ). This is a little different than reporting the news but its still telling life stories and points of view using photography. This is also what the 9-11 digital archive does, it tells so many stories through so many different photos and angles.
So yes the digital era has greatly altered the news and how we get it. We can log on Facebook and read 7 different posts about one event but i don’t think thats a bad thing at all. Thats 7 view points, 7 fact findings and 7 styles of writing to broaden our knowledge of a subject and in a diverse ever growing culture i think thats a great thing.
The 9|11 digital archive is a one of it’s kind view of the terror attacks that rocked New York and the rest of the nation. We got to see the events unfold through the eyes of the media but the media (as they do with everything else) shoots through a filtered lens. When i browsed the archive i focused mainly on the photography and portraits of the events. Being a lover of photography that strikes me the most.
This site is a more personal view of the events, instead of one generic press story it is a unique combination of photo’s and tangible artifacts from that fateful day. All of this data is a modern day scrap book, a way for my daughter and future grandkids to look back and learn about that day, a way to truly see how it effected people and changed the world. Piece by piece each picture, of first responders, employees in the towers, people passing through you can see the worry, exhaustion and sorrow in their eyes. Thats not all you saw though, you saw triumphs of human compassion, spirit, and love. This material is real, its not censored for CNN or FOX its the accounts from people who stood in the wake of the biggest devastation on american soil. When i look at these pictures some i remember from the media, from reading TIME magazine and some that my teachers and professors used in future years. I think in some respects this is a raw view that some people may find too painful to look at. I watched a portion of the names being read this morning and even 14 years later you can see the pain, the emptiness people still carry around.
Last summer i visited the 9|11 memorial with my daughter and best friend and it was probably one of the most serene places i’d ever visited. Even my daughter (who was four at the time) knew or sensed the ambiance of the memorial and didn’t once run, yell out or climb on anything. It is truly a gorgeous and beautifully made memorial to those who unknowingly went to work that day and never made it home.
14 years ago i was 11 years old, a 6th grader in math class when other students in my class suddenly started getting picked up one by one. The teacher looked worried and paced back and forth but never told us what had happened. When my mom finally came for me she too looked panicked and worried, it wasn’t until we were home that she sat me down and told me what went on but not to tell my siblings who were 5 and 7 at the time. I remember her calling my dad ever hour or so because he had a birds eye view of the towers from his job across the river in Brooklyn, sometimes she’d cover her face and go in the other room. She never let us watch more than 5 minutes of the news in the coming weeks and it wasn’t until i was a senior in high school that i fully realized why. Images, even some from the archive were so heartbreaking that she felt it would damage our innocence and unscarred view of the world. I do remember though how rapidly the world changed around me after that. A few months later we went to florida and i remember seeing men with rifles in the airport and having to take my shoes and sweatshirt off to go through security. I remember seeing the dogs and the army in the train station when i went to the city with my dad. At the time it made me feel safe, that nothing bad could happen if these guys were around right? Now as an adult with a child of my own i understand my moms reasoning even more and i also feel her fear for the world her kids were being raised in. Ava is 6 now and she’s been on countless trips, on numerous airplanes and i think about the fact that she doesn’t know or remember a time when security wasn’t such a huge issue, a time before everything we did was watched, she’ll never know that. I try not to think about the way the world is now or how it may get worse, i try not to let ava be subjected to the evils of the world we live in though i know one day she’ll look at things like the 9|11 digital archive and know that the world in which we live is a turbulent and scary place but also one filled with human triumph and understanding.