MediaStorm a thoroughly new kind of magazine

[10 September 2007]

By Jillian Burt

<Finding the Way Home: By Brenda Ann Kenneally on MediaStorm

(Link to "

Finding The Way Home”)

At the Webby Awards this year MediaStorm won the official award from the group of judges made up of experts and peers for the best online magazine. Its video pieces have taken photojournalism into a new realm. Where once a photo-agency would have provided images to newspapers and magazines, MediaStorm lists its services as “picture editing, audio editing, production of broadcast quality video and multimedia presentations, custom photography, audio and video reporting and web multimedia infrastructure development.”

The changing role of visual images in newspapers is important to consider. I was drawn into the stories on MediaStorm’s website by the power of the images, which struck me as following in the tradition that photographers like Cartier Bresson, Berenice Abbott and August Sander set of using new tools as photography itself was settling into becoming a powerful storytelling tool, to show us the world, catching some resonant moments, that linger.

(Link to “Zakouma”)

It seems to me MediaStorm has created an entirely new hybrid form, a new way for visual artists / journalists to profit from their work now that free photo-sharing sites such as Flickr have taken away the need for organisations to go to agencies to buy images. It has some of the elements of a press agency in the way that newspapers and media organisations buy complete stories: National Geographic, Slate, and the Los Angeles Times are among the media organizations that have bought stories from MediaStorm. 
Collected on MediaStorm’s own site the pieces have the call to conscience that’s the hallmark of great photojournalism by showing the world as it is, and they “read” well as a collection but without an overt editorial message or mood or identity that would usually come with being a “magazine”. “Never Coming Home: What It’s Like to Lose a Son in the Iraq War”, presented on Slate leverages “the power of still imagery and spoken word, allowing subjects to tell their own stories.” The Los Angeles Times won a Pulitzer Prize for its series “Altered Oceans”, which mixes video and written reports. In a similar vein “Blighted Homeland”, a series created with MediaStorm, looks at the devastation of the homeland of the Navajo people due to the lingering effects of nuclear tests. “From 1944 to 1986, 3.9 million tons of uranium ore were dug and blasted from Navajo soil, nearly all of it for America’s atomic arsenal. Navajos inhaled radioactive dust, drank contaminated water and built homes using rock from the mines and mills. Many of the dangers persist to this day. This four-part series examines the legacy of uranium mining on the Navajo reservation.”

On MediaStorm’s site transcripts are run with the video pieces. The eye reacts to a story, but the brain processes and reasons with words, so the stories come to have several lives, in several time frames. I think of the success of Joseph Campbell’s conversations with Bill Moyers, how they were a smash hit as the television series “The Power of Myth” and sold well on video, but that they’ve also had an enduring life as a book of transcripts that’s become a work of reference on myth in the modern world. MediaStorm’s stories have taken that model to the Internet.

MediaStorm founder Brian Storm, has offered this ‘roadmap’ through the site:

Emmy nominated:

Kingsley’s Crossing

Audio and Stills (No Video)

Never Coming Home

From the Ed Kashi and Julie Winokur Team

Friends for Life
The Sandwich Generation

Innovation with Kashi

Iraqi Kurdistan


Black Market

Video from the extraordinary Ray Farkas:

Brian Surgery
New York Reacts

Outside of journalism, but you might also enjoy them:

Heaven, Earth, Tequila

complete list of our projects and Client projects

Interactive Applications

Darfur for CFR, the interactive application

Finally, Why Photojournalists Should Gather Audio

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