Thursday, May 13, 2010

Print and Photography Solider Onward - Day Five in Ireland

Point Park University has posted our article about meeting with Ambassador Rooney. Please check out the article and pictures at:

Put down the shovel, Mr. Gravedigger, print is not dead. The terror manifested by the thought of the Internet crushing physical newspapers throughout the world is not as entirely widespread as I had initially assumed – at least not so much in Ireland.

Today we were back at Dublin City University for another lecture by Prof. Roddy Flynn. His central topic for the day was the effect of the Internet on Irish mass media.

“The impact of the Internet is not much,” said Flynn.

This filled me with joy to hear this from a credible source. For the last two years I’ve been in a panic about the state of print in the U.S. I watched as newspaper after newspaper folded in the face of declining circulation numbers and dragging profits. Ireland is not at this level of erosion yet, however, it is slowly changing.

Flynn said the majority of Irish homes do have relatively fast broadband. He further explained that at an average top speed of two megabytes per second – Internet service in Ireland is still slow by American standards.

Given this issue: Why haven’t the Irish pushed to revamp the broadband infrastructure?

The problem is twofold. Many of the isolated areas outside of Dublin are not cost-effective enough to run high-speed lines to in the country. The second issue was the moral panic that kept conservative Catholic Irish suspicious of the Internet. The Internet was initially viewed as a place for porn, violence and video games.

The educated Irish perspective of the Internet’s capabilities has progressed past these uninformed moral issues, yet many Dublin urbanites are still buying hard copies of newspapers simply because the online content is limited.

In a talk yesterday, Rosita Boland, writer for the Irish Times, said that her employer would no longer be putting all of their content on the Web. Other papers seem to be following suit and with the largest aggregator being Eircom (a telecommunications company) – there doesn’t appear the same view as disappear as seen through the eyes of new graduates attempting to break into American print.

The day’s messages of inspiration continued as we met with the Photo Call agency. The owner, Aman (I’ll correct the spelling of his name soon – his Irish brogue made it a little hard to understand), and two staff photographers met with us and discussed their vision of the industry.

Their studio reminded me of my previous studio space that I shared with the other members of Lot25 (our video production studio) in the River Walk Corporate Center in South Side (old-school ‘burghers will know this as the Terminal building).

The space was rather utilitarian – a far cry from the ornate offices of Ogilvy & Mather, an ad agency we visited on Tuesday. Photocall’s studio entrance was marked with a tiny label above their buzzer next to a beat-up blue door.

These guys spoke genuinely – in line with their humble appearances. They discussed hot topics in the industry such as the proliferation of video.

Sasko Lasarov, a staff photographer and Macedonian-national, gave some great advice to conclude the session. He told the story of how he came to Ireland and worked in a coffee shop while keeping his dream in mind. He eventually quit his job and started pounding the payment to pound on agency doors.

He said that becoming a photographer doesn’t happen overnight – but jobs will come if you stay focused. He also said to take internships and do anything possible to get your name out there. It was refreshing to hear from a journalist who had to elbow his way in unlike other journalists we had heard from earlier in the week.

His co-worker, a Texan named Mark Stedman, had only one word of advice: Perseverance.

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