The Big Picture

Holy crap. Best new blog in a while. From the Boston Globe, The Big Picture is a relatively simple idea, executed gorgeously: few words, big, pretty pictures, tells a story. It just started this month, and already there are some really great stories and even better photos:

Daily Life in Sadr City, Iraq

The Sky, From Above

Mississippi Floodwaters in Iowa

Ethiopia in Food Crisis Once More

You really have to see these full-sized. Stunning work.

Bush’s War

feh_bor_rou_sha.jpgPBS FRONTLINE has their new special available for viewing online in its entirety:

Veteran FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk draws on one of the richest archives in broadcast journalism — more than 40 FRONTLINE reports on Iraq and the war on terror. Combined with fresh reporting and new interviews, Bush’s War will be the definitive documentary analysis of one of the most challenging periods in the nation’s history.

“Parts of this history have been told before,” Kirk says. “But no one has laid out the entire narrative to reveal in one epic story the scope and detail of how this war began and how it has been fought, both on the ground and deep inside the government.”

Frontline is pretty much the last bastion of serious news documentaries in America, so it’s probably worth a look.

‘I fell in love with a female assassin’

tame9s.jpgThis is just an incredible, jarring story:

They met on a train and fell in love. Then Jason P Howe discovered that his girlfriend Marylin was leading a secret double life – as an assassin for right-wing death squads in Colombia’s brutal civil war. With their story set to become a major Hollywood film, he recalls an extraordinary, doomed romance

And it would make one heck of a film, too.  You can see Jason Howe’s stunning and moving photography at his website, ConflictPics.

How media has failed us

I think I (and many others) have made the point before that our major media outlets have failed us in tremendously significant ways. Consistently the only accurate, in-depth, intelligent reporting I see is from PBS, NPR, or other countries. Part of me wishes I had pursued a career in journalism so that I could somehow make a positive impact in the field, rather than just rail against it weakly (though that’s most likely what I would have done from the inside, as well).

See, big media needs to sell ads to survive. To sell (the right) ads, they have to meet certain ratings and demographic numbers. To draw in those numbers, a lot of work goes into targeting audiences, a lot of market research. Market research is a process of distillation, a precision instrument. When you’re honing in on your target, there’s no room for externalities. When you’re drawing in the subject, you can’t risk boring them with depth or complex discourse. You’ve got to offer the most stories with the highest impact in the least amount of time – I hear CNN is now advertising more stories per hour:

But I digress. The real point of this post was to link to this article, which offers insight into the inner workings of a major network. It sheds light both on its failure to uphold the standards of old media and to keep up with new media. I love the way the article opens, so I’ve quoted that as well as some other salient points (after the jump): Continue reading