The publishing industry is in the midst of a revolution. A century-old business model has almost completely unravelled.
Magazines and newspapers have lost subscribers, readership, and advertising revenue, as both readers and advertisers have migrated online. Established brands have shed writers, reporters, layout people. It’s a tough business.
Arising from the embers of the periodical world are the first glimpses of what the internet can offer readers, finally taking advantage of the multi-media possibilities that aren’t available in the print world.
They’ve come sporadically, and the early attempts haven’t garnered huge traction, but I think they are really onto something.
One example occurred in the Wall Street Journal. Reporter Michael M. Phillips chronicled the evolution of lobotomies on soldiers in the 1950s and 60s. He came across a long-forgotten federal archive and ran wild with the story, interviewing survivors, family members and VA officials. The project is beautifully presented, combining text, photos and video.
Another example comes from reporter Lauren Silverman of KERA (public) radio in Dallas. She and a small team put together a multi-chapter story about aging in America, told through the scourge of hip fractures. The project beautifully combines narrative reporting with audio, photos, and infographics that give the reader/viewer/listener deep insight.
Both projects beautifully contextualize the scope of the problems they report on through powerful narrative lenses.
I was fortunate to record interviews with each author, which you can listen to (each one is ~30 minutes) from Public Radio Tulsa:
Michael Phillips on “The Lobotomy Files”
Lauren Silverman on “The Broken Hip”
I hope to see a lot more of these types of projects. They work well on many levels.