RadioLab discusses photojournalism; other podcast recommendations

Radiolab is usually an interesting listen. Sometimes the sound design is a bit much and sometimes the “gee whiz” presentation of science gets tiresome, but the subjects are almost always worth the time. The most recent episode (available wherever you find podcasts, embedded above, or here) discusses a particular set of photos taken by Lynsey Addario in Afghanistan in 2009 and you should take the 30 minutes to listen.

Unlike Addario’s other recent media appearances, the discussion focuses much less on her career and life and instead considers the nature of photojournalism, what it means to those depicted in the pictures, and who gets to decide what pictures get published and seen. You can see some of the pictures from the day at the end of this Time gallery.

On the subject of podcasts, here’s a few I’ve been listening to recently that you might want to check out:

  • RadioLab was an inspiration for my work photographing China’s zoos; make sure to listen to the early episodes of the show. Seasons 1 through 4 are my favorite.
  • Everything is Stories is a new podcast focusing on individuals or events on the edge of society. Their first episode, of particular interest to our audience, looks at the lives of a cameraman who worked on the TV show Cops and a photographer who is a crime scene specialist in the American southwest.
  • Here Be Monsters is “a podcast about the unknown” and often features stories from the northwestern US, where I spent much of my life. I first listened when our friend Pete Brook was interviewed for an episode. Episode 6, Clever Hans, is a particularly good entry point, but there are many more episodes to choose from.
  • Criminal is a podcast about crime, but it’s never quite what you’d expect. I really liked their recent episode Final Exit.
  • Love + Radio tackles all sorts of subjects, and the stories are usually emotionally complicated. The episode I tell most people about is The Silver Dollar, about a black man who befriended members of the KKK. The Wisdom of Jay Thunderbolt is also a standout.
  • The LPV Show is Bryan Formhals‘ podcast featuring interviews with photographers. It’s a good listen and much better than you’d think a podcast of interviews with photographers would be.
  • Finish Line, produced by the Boston Globe and WBUR, is a short-form podcast that recaps the day’s events in the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev. The trial is now in the penalty phase, but the podcast is still worth listening to. The two hosts spend about 10 minutes talking about what happens in the courtroom each day. It strikes me as a great way to report this trial and their podcasts always add a little bit of historical or emotional weight to what you’d see in other news reports.
  • A Life Well Wasted was a short-lived podcast about video games. I’m not an avid video game player and this podcast is what you’d think a podcast about video games would be like. There are only 7 episodes.
  • The Memory Palace is a podcast about history, usually in chunks less than 10 minutes. Again, it’s not what you’d expect from a history podcast…much more impressionistic and emotional. Check out 400,000 Stars, an episode that caught my attention recently.
  • Worth a look: The Groundtruth Project and Foreverstan

    Last night I attended the launch of the Groundtruth Project, a non-profit news organization focused on training the next generation of international correspondents and producing international journalism. Today, Groundtruth has published their most recent project, Foreverstan, a current and nuanced look at the United States’ longest war. There’s an introduction video embedded above, but the project website is really worth a look.

    groundtruthproject First, a little about the Groundtruth Project. It was founded by Charles Sennott (co-founder of GlobalPost and longtime reporter), Gary Knight (co-founder of VII), and Kevin Douglas Grant (formerly the Senior Editor of Special Reports at GlobalPost). In Sennott’s introduction last night he said that he had been talking with the Ford Foundation, one of Groundtruth’s funders, about the difficulties of running GlobalPost as a business. They said that GlobalPost may technically be a for-profit enterprise, but it’s really a non-profit. Sennott then founded Groundtruth as a non-profit dedicated to international newsgathering and training young journalists for international reporting.

    Though last night in Boston was the official launch of Groundtruth, the organization has been active for a few years. They’ve funded a number of reporting fellowships and projects: in Egypt, in Burma, on global health, human rights in Africa, millenials around the world, and this year’s Middle East Fellowship. They’ve also published a number of special reports on topics around the world in addition to these fellowships. Crucially, Groundtruth makes sure that their stories reach wide audiences, partnering with a number of international news organizations including Public Radio International, WGBH, PBS Frontline and others.

    Screenshot of the Foreverstan website - a project by the Groundtruth Project
    Screenshot of the Foreverstan website – a project by the Groundtruth Project

    Foreverstan is the latest of these special reports, published in partnership with WGBH and funded by the Ford Foundation and The Bake Family Trust. It combines writing, video, and photography by Jean MacKenzie, Beth Murphy, and Ben Brody, looking at the current situation of Afghanistan through stories centered around the internationally-built Ring Road in the country. The stories are separated into three sections: a look at the military handover to Afghanistan forces, girls’ education in the country, and the lives of Afghanistan’s millenials, who’ve only known war during their lifetimes. It’s an ambitious project, but one which looks a bit deeper than most conflict reporting. At the launch last night, the founders and panelists stressed the importance of “context” reporting, examining the circumstances surrounding and leading to conflict.

    Keep an eye on Groundtruth’s site for future projects and ways to get involved. Also, not to be missed is the Groundtruth Project’s Field Guide, which includes guidelines for reporting from the field and a collection of essays on lessons learned from the field by a number of international correspondents, including James Foley. It’s a free download and a great resource for those interested in international reporting. You can also keep up with Groundtruth’s projects at their blog.

    Worth a Look: Adam Magyar’s Stainless

    Photographer Adam Magyar, whose slit-camera photographs Scott wrote about in 2009, has a new project called Stainless. It is composed of both massive prints of subway cars and subway riders and innovative slow-motion videos of subway platforms as trains arrive at stations around the world. It is captivating work. And involved a tremendous amount of ingenuity and invention by Magyar to make it possible.

    There have been a lot of articles about the work recently so do have a look: Matter has published a feature and interview with Magyar as Einstein’s Camera: How one renegade photographer is hacking the concept of time that I highly recommend. PetaPixel also published a piece about the Stainless videos and followed-up with a link to a fascinating video where Magyar speaks about the technology and code that he developed himself to make these projects work.