Capturing the lives of others

Cardiff Media Blogs

“Where are you from?”

Dr Daniel Meadows, documentarian, photographer, presenter, author, Bafta winner and lecturer at JOMEC asked Post-graduate students this simple question. There was a pause before he showed us a 2 minute digital documentary about his family history.

Since the democratisation of media, almost everyone now has the opportunity to perform on the stage of online media. The internet has allowed people like Dr Meadows to create a trade of digital storytelling, employing tools such as still shots and people’s memories to build up a picture of what Wales looks like in 2010 through the lives of others. And this new type of media is immensely important.

Bur Dr Meadows emphasised, “A person interacts through the use of tools he actively masters.”

If a person does not master these tools, he argues, that person becomes powerless as a receiver of media. “History is the story of the victorious,” he added.

Is this the case for contemporary journalism?

If journalists empower themselves with digital media, they could save print journalism from decay, a constant undermining issue lurking in the back of any head of regional media boss.

BBC Wales were convinced of the value of this type of media and commissioned Dr Meadows to tour the country in a truck, to document people’s lives, empowering them to tell their own story. “It’s a collaborative project, it’s about the person’s story, he said.”

It takes around 30 hours to prepare a 2 minute video, which is often effective with a series of still pictures and a voice-over.

The medium of digital storytelling can be especially useful to provide a visual account of how process work, especially important when explaining complex financial processes.

For example, BBC’s Business Correspondent, Robert Preston, has used the platform to explain how the banks work.

But to document news, the platform of digital storytelling would not be the most effective. Editing even a short piece can be time consuming and therefore difficult in a newsroom context.

Perhaps the best use of digital storytelling is for features, explaining complex concepts and documenting case studies.

And with the democratisation of information and media on the internet, the Journalist could appeal for people to add their own videos.

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