Tuesday, 17 February 2009

OK - I might have been wrong.

I have frequently described video journalism as "a child"s medium" and with few exceptions prefer audio slide-shows as multimedia content.

Narrated audio slide-shows like Andrew Testa's excellent piece on Kosovo (here) serve to remind us of all that print journalism does well. The sense of reading is evoked by the narration, the transition between still images similar to the turning of a page.

Video on the other hand reminds us of all that Television does well. It immerses us but leaves little to the imagination. For the most part it tends to be less engaging on the internet and much of what appears on the online sites of major newspapers lacks the production values of TV.

Sean Smith has consistently managed to rise above this and I suspect that this has much to do with his deft blending of moving footage with stills and a series of interviews where the subject is given enough space to tell the story in their own words. His excellent series last year from the Iraq troop surge (here) broke all the so-called rules about length and showed us a glimpse of what could be achieved with a longer format, carefully considered editing not to mention Sean's prodigious talent.

But despite my keen interest in Afghanistan I have not thought highly of fellow Guardian contributor, John D McHue's videos from the violent Eastern provinces.........until now.

The latest piece from Sarray Combat Outpost (here) proves me completely wrong. 

It is visceral, informative journalism and his best piece to date.

Maybe it is has just taken a while for the new medium to become a comfortable part of stills photographers output. Heaven knows there is a lot to learn but this strikes me as a really evocative and involving work that puts the viewer right there in the thick of it.

Still photographs will always be my favorite but the argument against video is looking harder to justify with each passing month.

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