Ideas 003: event based reporting
I’ve opened up a new category on the blog. It’s called Ideas for the future of news and here I’m collating good, tangible, positive, innovative ideas on how journalism can move forward.
Idea: The Berlin Project
By: Alex Wood, Sheena Rossiter, Marcus Gilroy-Ware, Dominique Van Heerden, Marco Woldt
The five people behind the Berlin Project are the perfect example of young journalists refusing to be battered by economic storms, or waiting for journalism to sort itself out. When many recent graduates would have been preparing themselves for another 3-week unpaid internship at some dodgy music mag, or scouring the papers for PR jobs, these guys decided to go do some journalism instead.
It takes a fair bit of chutzpah to fly yourself out to Germany to cover the Berlin Wall anniversary with no real audience and not much financial backing. But they did, and you can see the results on their website.
Under the banner “journalism like you never thought possible” they went into Berlin under the radar covering the unofficial story. The site is a real multimedia mash too with audio, video packages, mobile video and photographs rolled into one.
Something lots of the big boys talk about all the time, but rarely produce themselves.
This aside, I’ve labelled the Berlin Project as an example of event-based reporting, a different angle on journalism, and one perhaps with commercial possibilities?
The Berlin Project was about one event, and offering in-depth coverage of that time defined moment. It is nothing new of course, we’re all used to ‘special coverage’ of the Olympics, elections, and remembrance services in the mainstream media.
But until now, they’ve been an extension of larger broadcasters or papers.
I think the advantage of the Berlin Project is its size (small, nimble) and therefore flexibility. They were also able to work cheaply, getting footage on iPhones and editing it quickly with iMovie. All told, a valuable alternative to mainstream coverage.
And I wonder for a second whether there’s a business model here too? Imagine being commissioned to cover all sorts of awesome events, because its what you do really well. It’s not a traditional niche, but hey- a niche is a niche right?
The Berlin Project team were able to get backing from Reuters and do some business with smaller sites and Alex reckons they’ll break even, all told. Not bad for a pilot project. And there could be plans for more events coverage in 2010.
And even if you don’t like the idea, these guys have shown what’s possible when you just get off your ass and do something.