Can VJs Deliver Quality?


Why can’t CBS Evening News look like this?

There has been an enormous amount of discussion about whether VJs can deliver a ‘quality product’. As ‘google’ has become a verb, ‘Youtube’ has become an adjective meaning shaky, blue and generally out of focus. Alas, VJ often conjures up visions of Youtube.

This is a mistake.

Yesterday, I met with Brian Storm.

He’s got a great name… kind of Dickensian.

But the work he does more than matches the name.

He used to be with Corbis, the photo agency. He knows the world of photography, but he also knows the world of online. He was one of the online pioneers, working out of MSNBC’s online side in Washington State instead of the State of New Jersey.

Fifty years ago, the greatest visual journalists were photographers. Capa, Cartier Bresson, W. Eugene Smith, Margaret Bourke White. And they had a vehicle – Life Magazine.

All across America, families waited for Life Magazine to arrive in the post. And when it did, it gave average Americans a window onto the world. Its photography became instantly iconographic. Some of those images are still seared into our brains.

Television killed Life.

It was one of those examples of technology destroying what looked like an immutable institution. Kind of like what the web is now doing to newspapers and will soon do to television.

But talent survives. It reinvents itself. And many of the best photojournalists are now picking up small digital video cameras and resurrecting their craft for a new medium – as they once did for Life.

He is creating a kind of amalgam of photojournalism and videojournalism. Powerful visual storytelling.

What is the grammar of this new kind of storytelling? No one knows. It is being invented every day. But Brian Storm may prove to be the Henry Luce of visual storytelling on the web.

As I sat in his work/live loft off lower Fifth Avenue, I was astonished at the power of the work his people were doing. And this was not screened on some small computer, but on a 50 inch High Def monitor in his living room.

Take a look.

Online journalism will eclipse television news when the images and stories you find there are more beautiful and more powerful. Here it begins.


2 responses to “Can VJs Deliver Quality?

  1. Meanwhile, in the world of network journalism, ghost writer of personal essay for Katie Couric accused of plagiarizing the WSJ.

    Read the article here .

    My favorite excerpt is below:

    “…If person A is going to express a personal memory or opinion on behalf of person B, and person B is not someone who identifies publicly with specific positions on matters of public debate—something network news anchors (outside of Fox, anyway) are discouraged from doing—then person A will hew carefully to anodyne sentiment. The result is commentary devoid of any substance or interest…”

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