Tuesday, September 30, 2008

James Nachtwey, TED Award & a Potential New Form of Media Distribution

Unless you have never read a news magazine and have had your head buried in a hole in the sand for the past twenty years, you have been exposed to the work of arguably one of the world's most talented & driven photojournalists, James Nachtwey. Since the early 1980's Nachtwey has covered war, conflict, famine, disease, social issues and political insurrection in all of the hotspots around the globe. His images speak volumes and touch us in ways that words will never be able to. From Palestine, Bosnia, Serbia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Africa & the Middle East, his lens has focused on the human toll of political insanity. When there were stories that Nachtwey thought were important and he could find no interest within the major media outlets, he would fund these projects out of his own pocket in the interest of informing the world. Nachtwey has been the recipient of the Martin Luther King Award, Robert Capa Gold Medal (5X), the World Press Photo Award (2X), Magazine Photographer of the Year (7X) and numerous others.  Last year Nachtwey was also awarded 2007 TED Prize.

TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design) was founded in 1984 as a conference bringing together some of the world's most fascinating thinkers & doers. Each year TED awards an outstanding individual from one of those three fields with a $100,000 cash award and the opportunity to have one wish to change the world granted. 

As part of his award, James Nachtwey requests the granting of this wish:

      "I'm working on a story that the world needs to know about. I wish for you to help me break it in a way that provides spectacular proof of the power of news photography in the digital age."

On October 3rd, Nachtwey will get his wish. In conjunction with TED, his story and project "which highlight a shocking and underreported global crisis" will be revealed to the world simultaneously as it is distributed throughout the world via the web, news media and projected on monuments and public buildings. As incredible as this all may sound at first glance one must keep in mind that Nachtwey has been and is an ultra-credible witness to and reporter of the major stories occurring around the globe for over 30 years.

In this age of media consolidation, news organizations moved under the corporate guidance of major media's entertainment divisions and the outright Noise that substitutes for news in major media outlets, it seems that those interested in getting out the real important stories of the day face increasingly insurmountable hurdles imposed by ratings driven television & radio news  broadcasts and the advertising driven news prints and periodicals. To that end, Nachtwey's approach to releasing his story (whatever it may be) may, in fact, override the traditional news & media outlets, forcing their hand in a way that has the potential to demand that this story grab the international headlines for at least a moment, regardless of sponsor, advertiser or ratings concerns. 

We'll see what it is all about on October 3rd and if the story is 1.) worthy of international news focus (Nachtwey's involvement seems to guarantee that it will) and 2.) can this new method of building hype for a breaking story and then simultaneously disseminating that story in a method such as this actually force the hand of the traditional media to cover it. It has already grabbed  my attention.

You can find out more about James Nachtwey, TED and the annual TED Prize and this year's winners by going here. The embeded badge at the top of this entry contains a link to the TED site that will redirect on Oct. 3rd to unveil the story. Stay tuned for more... and by all means,  watch the video below for Nachtwey's talk before the TED committee and a slideshow of some of his incredible imagery.
Thanks to Rob at APE for the heads-up.

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