Reflections 25.4.16 is a cross disciplinary project, involving reportage illustrators and artists, photographers and journalists. It seeks to raise awareness of the issues in Nepal one year on from the devastating earthquake. Illustrator Harry Morgan was in Nepal at the time of the disaster and began drawing. He stayed, organising aid and shelter, and began this experiment in cross media storytelling. Each story is composed of interview, drawing and photography, using the language of each to add to the narrative. Some of the illustrations are layered with additional information, maps, text, diagrams and data, as in for example, Gary Embury’s drawing of Dr Sapkota, and Harry Morgan’s drawing of Lhakpa Lama and Karsang Palmo.
This kind of cross media storytelling is a developing trend in reportage illustration.
Journalists are having to respond to consumers who spend longer media multi tasking, have a shorter attention span that ever before, but also have an increasing appetite for news (Kolodsky 2013).
Kolodsky suggests that the way to cater for this changing consumption, is to practice
‘convergence journalism’. This is journalism that gives you what you want, when you want it in a multitude of ways, allowing the audience to dip in, or focus in depth on one specific aspect of a story. To do this, she advocates that journalism be ‘tool neutral’ (Kolodsky 2013 p.7). Stories need to be told in many ways, using audio, film, still image, graphics, text.
I believe that reportage illustration is a valuable, additional way to add context, emotion, and a subjective view to a story. It’s also a way in, when photographs and film aren’t permitted. Some drawings, like Embury’s and Morgan’s mentioned earlier, add data, maps, and spoken reports to the image which give further context ,immediacy and humanity. Olivier Kugler is another good example of an someone who works with text and image as a journalist/illustrator. His work in Iran, documenting a journey across the Arabian Gulf, won him the top V&A illustration award in 2011, and he was awarded again in 2015 for his portraits of Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan. Kugler layers his drawings digitally, combining several drawings together, adding text and diagrams, so that it can be read as a non linear image. A comparison to 'clickable' screen based illustrations has been drawn (Embury 2013. 66).
"Convergence Journalism', has some similarities with Bo Soremskys interactive reportage experiment, which was part of his Masters Thesis (see blog post 7/11/2016). His narrative is interactive,'clickable', and allows the viewer to select a route through the narrative. The non linear approach is a much more appropriate way to recount the stories of many, as there is no singular timeline and many viewpoints.
EMBURY, G. (2013). The new visual journalism. Varoomlab. [online]. (1), p 67.Available at:
http://www.varoom-mag.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/VaroomLab_Journal_IssueOne.pdf. [Accessed 20 October 2016]
Available at: http://reflections.org.np/about/ [Accessed 30 November 2016]
KOLODZY, J. (2013). Practicing Convergence Journalism: An introduction to Cross Media Story telling. New York, Oxon. Routledge.