Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hard Times: On the Road with Travis Fox

No sooner do we discourse on the improbability of finding a newspaper staffer who single-handedly possesses all the necessary skills for creating superb multimedia stories -- reporting, interviewing, writing, shooting, editing -- than we feature a noteworthy travel video blog, Hard Times, updated daily by the Washington Post's Travis Fox, the one-man-band of videojournalism. 

Sure, plenty of newspaper photographers have picked up a videocam,  fiddled with editing  software, and produced
competent pieces on their own. But Fox is that rara avis who excels in all arenas, and consistently produces sparkling award-winning packages.  He won the first national Emmy ever awarded for 'non-television' (i.e. Web) News & Documentary programming. As you can see from some of his stellar work showcased on KobreGuide, Fox has circled the globe in pursuit of great stories, from Coney Island to Darfur

As we speak, Fox is on the road again. He's driving from L.A. to D.C. to create a series of text and video grassroots snapshots of the U.S. economy and how it's impacting the imminent election. While many political journalists are rewriting press handouts and gathering quotes at staged events, Fox is wending his way through small towns and big cities, talking to real Americans of all stripes, for a ground-level appraisal of the state of our nation. 

He's augmenting his video reports with original contemporary still photographs that he juxtaposes with classic images by Depression-era masters, and the parallel stories they tell: 
Blythe is on the California and Arizona border, an oasis in the middle of the desert. In 1936 Dorothea Lange found a family stuck here during their travels from Oklahoma to more fertile lands in California (top photo). Today Blythe is a pit stop on I-10 halfway between Los Angeles and Phoenix. But people still get stuck here. Edward "Bubba" McCouskey has been stranded for eight days. Broke and sleeping on the streets, he's trying to get a lift back to his native Texas after a hitchhiking trip to California (bottom photo).
Plus ça change...

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