Grunto the caveman walks through the dark, wet chambers of his favorite cave, holding a crude torch above his head and searching the ceiling for any new marks made since his last visit. He is unafraid of the bats and eyeless bugs that share this space with him. In his search for new information, there is no time for this cave-dweller to be prissy.
Up ahead are the last drawings and scribbles he saw, and just past them... something new. What's that? Two bulls and a bear, with eight straight lines underneath? Sound the alarm! Grunto turns and runs from the cave, his torch leaking fire that smolders in his long hair. It is essential that he share this information with anyone that will hear his wordless utterances.
We have just witnessed the earliest form of journalism, and although today's offerings may sometimes seem only slightly less sophisticated, we've come a long way overall.
For several years now, digerati have turned to Internet bloggers as a source of information and entertainment. During the recent election these rogue gatherer-posters gained mainstream attention for their live coverage during the both the Republican and Democratic conventions. For better or worse, stories and commentary zipped to the Internet in the middle of speeches, and anyone could find the live spin of their choice with a few mouse clicks.
What many of these paragraph frontiersman lacked with their journals was a visual element. You can churn out a dozen entries a day, but if you drop a few photos in there you add credibility, interest and readership. My opinion is biased, but I've come to notice that the best stories in the journalism world appear with photos attached, and many times if a story has no possible illustration then it's not all that interesting in the first place.
Technology has created a solution to this problem, and it's evolving just like the rest of the silicon world. Learn to love them if you don't, because they're here to stay: mobile phone cameras are creating new possibilities for the hobby journalist, and that's a good thing.
Blogging sites now allow their users to send a photo right from their phone to an e-mail account that converts the image and posts it in seconds. This increases the quality of live coverage for independent journalists at a very low cost. Camera phones improve every year, and will soon rival the quality of an average point-and-shoot digital.
As this fad expands, it will suffer an eventual collapse, after which only the truly interested will continue and the integrity of their product will increase. Some of these bloggers have already separated themselves from the pack and earn a decent income from the advertisements on their sites and by contributing articles to traditional print media sources.
News coverage isn't changing, the method of delivery is. The possibilities that technology offers for the future of journalism are very exciting, and will eventually make the news better. Imagine photographing a cave painting of two bulls and a bear, with eight straight lines underneath, and making it available for the entire world instantly.
Grunto would have given you the buckskin off of his back for that ability.
Rob Felt is the photographer for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or firstname.lastname@example.org .