The Mediastorm Network

I had the pleasure of attending a couple days of presentations by Brian Storm this week. If you are a working photographer (or filmmaker) then I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Brian is a long-range strategic thinker, who understands both the very big picture, (where media is moving) as well as the hard-core tech details (how to build the next generation of network distribution).  Equally important, he really understands visual storytelling, and can communicate exactly how he approaches it.

Our current media landscape is dominated by top-heavy industry players: organizations that were built on the high-profit models of the last century. Print media and traditional broadcast media needed (and easily supported) large corporate overhead to operate. These companies are still saddled with this overhead, even as they try to reinvent themselves as web-based publishers.

It’s interesting to see how some of these big media companies don’t seem to recognize their own top-heaviness. They send photographers into the field and ask them to gather sound and video at the same time they shoot stills. They can’t afford to send an audio person along, because all the money in the organization is going to pay for that prime downtown real estate and the executive compensation and other overhead.  The result is a product that may suffer in quality.

The Mediastorm model, by contrast,is built on a wide foundation and grows organically. First, make great quality stuff. Put the resources into gathering good field capture, and then spend the time and money necessary to edit it in a compelling way. Add management overhead once the product base can reasonably support it.

Mediastorm is also thinking hard about distribution technology, and how it is changing. They have developed a media player that provides a key to their long-term strategy. The embeddable player (shown below) allows for organic, viral growth, in a way that takes advantage of the current media landscape.

In Rwanda, in 1994, Hutu militia committed a bloody genocide, murdering one million Tutsis. Many of the Tutsi women were spared, only to be held captive and repeatedly raped. Many became pregnant. Intended Consequences tells their stories. See the project at http://mediastorm.com/publication/intended-consequences

Look at the player, and pay attention to a few things.

1. It’s branded. Even though it’s embedded here on my blog, it carries the Mediastorm branding right on top.
2. There is copy under the movie player frame. This makes it easy to simply add a link, without having to type anything.
3. Multi-lingual closed captioning.
4. Commercials. Gotta pay for all this somehow.
5. Check out the blue menu button on the bottom left. This brings up even more stuff, which includes:
6. A link to buy the book on Amazon.
7. A way to contribute to a foundation that can help the people in the story.
8. Links to comment, share and embed right from this embedded player (free advertising and viral growth).
9. And something you can’t see: this embed has its own unique code, so they can turn this off if I somehow violate the terms of use.
10. It’s pretty.

The player provides distribution, connectivity, control, and revenue.  And the stuff inside the frame is high-quality long-form journalism.

Brian is spending a lot of his effort to train visual journalists to produce this kind of material. I expected to attend a seminar that would show me how to make multimedia.  Instead, I saw something much more interesting, a plausible business model for the next generation of successful media company.

To state the obvious, if you ever get the opportunity to catch a Brian Storm presentation, do whatever you can to get there.

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