Tuesday, May 11, 2010

International Journalism Festival in review

Last month, I went to the International Journalism Festival in Italy for a panel on the future of story in the digital era. Since a potential benefit of the growing number of multimedia narratives is that visual stories often cross language barriers more easily, I was expecting to learn all about how Italian journalists present narrative journalism online.

I was surprised by what I didn’t find. In the sessions I attended as an audience member, narrative journalism didn’t come up at all, and the few passing references to long-form writing were mostly made by American presenters. A session called “Literary journalism: the pen is mightier than the video” turned out to be about arts coverage, with a brief mention of the literary essay. (To be fair, Times Literary Supplement editor Peter Stothard, who was supposed to be on this panel, was trapped in Britain by last month’s volcano-gone-wild.)

The festival included great documentary films and old-fashioned multimedia in the form of live performances of reported projects at the beautiful Teatro del Pavone. But I didn’t hear much discussion of multimedia storytelling online by Italian journalists. Alessandro Gilioli of L’Espresso, who also sat on the storytelling panel, offered some clues as to why.

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