With the dawn of the online sharing age, society’s ability to exchange thoughts and ideas has never been greater. The artist and storyteller is only ever a few clicks away from a global audience, where once they were relegated to the confines and restrictions of museums or the mass media. The freedom of ideas and ease of exchange has given rise to aesthetic journalism on a global scale.
Cramerotti (2009) describes aesthetic journalism as social, cultural or political investigation presented in an artistic context. This change of context forces us to reflect (even if only on a subconscious level) on the context with which we receive our ‘actual news’ – television news segments, newspaper articles and snappy sound-bites.
With the ubiquity of smartphones and unlimited access to global audiences, storytellers and citizen journalists are better equipped than ever to share a message or spread a viewpoint. From YouTube to WordPress, DeviantArt to independent news publishers, artists and storytellers have countless platforms and methods with which they can share their work. Presenting their research in the form of a documentary, artwork, video, song or metaphor, artists and storytellers are able to show us just how clouded our current interpretation of the world may be.
Take YouTube icon FriendlyJordies, a comedian who comments and reports on current political issues through the use of satirical infomercials and news pieces. Though it may be heavily biased, his parody of the infomercial and news story format actually lends credibility to his claims.
That’s not to say that art has never before challenged social norms. Even blockbuster cinema hits like “Avatar” have made commentaries on our society’s political and environmental dilemmas. Historically, art has long been a platform through which we can ponder societal issues and debate the status quo.
Aesthetic journalism’s true value comes from its ability to challenge traditional journalism’s accepted formats and aesthetics. By selectively bastardising or subverting the format through which journalistic investigation is presented, aesthetic journalism encourages us to think about the format and style of traditional news. And in understanding the format, we are better equipped to appreciate the way in which it shapes or influences our understanding of the world.
Cramerotti, Alfredo, 2011, “What is Aesthetic Journalism,” in Cramerotti, Alfredo, Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform Without Informing, Intellect, London