Last night I attended a conversation between one of my journalistic heroes, William T. Vollmann (a novelist/journalist who mixes vivid imagery with emotional close-ups of human suffering) and photographer Richard Drew (the photographer of the famous "falling man" picture from 9-11.
The event was hosted by the Whitney Museum, and they played a barrage of intense images on a movie screen during the discussion--a grim history of American photography. Afterwards, Vollmann asked Ed Champion, Marydell, Levi Asher, and I what we thought young, web-based journalists should do next.
I was a little speechless myself, but now I would say this--we should create web video content to go along with what we write.
Vollmann himself has always shot photographs to mix with his written stories, and those pictures haunt his books. For the next generation of Vollmann-inspired journalists, we must consider web video. We can electrify any online text with video, and anybody can shoot and edit the whole thing with their laptop.
If you live in the Midwest, there's a great lecture series coming up about video storytelling coming up in Chicago. Video journalism educator Robb Montgomery has a simple goal: "Writers, editors, artists and designers will learn how to identify and develop the visual components of stories so people will actually read them in print, as well as how to take stories to new levels online."
If you don't live in the Midwest, check out the helpful Visual Editors website (which is run by Montgomery as well). It's packed with information and contacts to build your web video toolkit.