Marcus Bleasdale/VII on Media Storm
Recenlty, I showed some of the multimedia journalism being produced and presented by Brian Storm at the MediaStorm Web site. Halfway through a slideshow on drug abuse one student got up to leave the room. I stopped the presentation in anticipation of such a strong response as a way of emphasizing how important the work being presented online is becoming. One question that was raised in class, was why we don't see this sort of work on television, especially cable. On cable television there is no shortage of violence or sex, but when it's real and presented in both still and video, with a photojournalist's voice narrating the story the message is different. Many of the projects one might watch on MediaStorm fail to be commercially viable. The content is either too close-to-the-bone disturbing or it doesn't appeal to the wider target audiences commercial interest covet.
Marcus Bleasdale's recent work on Media Storm about the Democratic Republic of Congo is a case in point. If we didn't know or care about what is happening to this African nation before Bleasdale's voice and pictures, it's time we did. Advocacy photojournalism has a strong tradition in our culture and there is no reason why it should go away, even if every thing seems to be about making money and consumption. The main reason why so many people go into photojournalism is that they can tell stories that make other people care.
Bleasdale's photography wrenches reality into our consciousness in ways other media cannot do. The images speak to the powerlessness of a people, especially the children, that are forced into lives of desperation and despair so that leaders in government and the warlords can reap enormous profits. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 5 million have died in the DRC since 1998. The country seems to be feeding off its own flesh, yet international outrage about the conditions there seldom enter our world view.