I strongly recommend you read photographer Enzo Dal Verme outstanding blog and, in particular, his latest post (click here) where he gives a lot of food for thoughts (as a consequence of a public debate lately held in Milan).
He writes about the aesthetic of the tragic, misery being an easy target of photojournalists and how the “offer of photography” is driven by market demands. A very interesting reading.
Since I’ve created Shoot4Change I could see that people react emotionally on a “strong” and tragic image rather than on a positive and potentially more inspiring one. Stats and weblogs showed that at the beginning (and somehow still do).
But over the time, pursuing S4C mission of reporting untold or ignored stories and the ones of those who try to bring a positive solution WITHIN tragic stories, I could see that our viewers attention was shifting. Stats showed a progressively longer reading time on those positive stories.
We have an average reading time of about 3 minutes and it’s quite a lot, since we are not a commercial magazine. It means people are interested and read carefully an article. To make a long story short, I think that the Adapt and Evolve approach works, and it really does, when it comes to adapting to market and technology changes. As for editorial content, I might be a little more optimistic.
If (and maybe S4C is the proof, altough we are still very young) people (pros and amateurs alike) are willing to go down on the streets to tell ignored or forgotten stories (often stories about the huge number of volunteers who bring relief in tragic situation) there is a growing demand – from the wider public – to know more about it.
But make no mistake. Tragedies are still, and will keep being, extremely aestethic and “remunerated” by mainstrem media. And it’s ok.
But, at least in my view, it is ok not only as long as it serves Information purposes but also if it’s intended to inspire others to take part in social change.