4: Aesthetic and Cinematic Journalism

Cinematic technique is a powerful tool for storytelling in multimedia and video journalism. To discuss aesthetic and cinematic approach in photography and journalism, it’s vital to understand the topic in terms of representation and narrative. This week we’ll look at some examples of aesthetic/cinematic journalism and discuss the use of cinematic techniques in multimedia journalism.

Required readings:

Start with the recording of Dan Chung discussing his experience covering the Japan tsunami in an IMMJ class in 2011. Especially the part when he talks about the cinematic video he made. You’ll find the recording on David Campbell’s website, or you can listen here.


Make sure that you watch the cinematic video made by Dan Chung. Compare it with the version on The Guardian’s website.


Read through this feature (photos+texts) on the Rohingya refugee crisis, and then read a commentary by Suchitra Vijayan. You can find the referenced work, Salgado’s “Migrations: Humanity in Transition,” simply by google the name. Before you read this commentary, make sure you’ve looked at both work, and have compared the aesthetics of them. During and after reading, put yourself into the shoe of the photographer, and think how you’re going to photograph the story if you were there.


(Additionally—this is recommended but not required—you can read a review of Salgado’s work on migration here)

Is it exploitative to make art out of human suffering? Read the discussion on NYT’s Lens Blog.



Recommended readings:

War is another subject that sometimes can cause debate when the depiction is too “painterly” or “beautiful.”


Watch the video “Aesthetics of Catastrophe.” Listen to photographer Aric Mayer’s thoughts and reasoning behind his work on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Watch Christopher Morris’s slow-motion videos of the U.S. presidential candidates. You can also read the behind the scene here.

Slow on the Trail: Christopher Morris Films