The Curious Project - PHmuseum

The Curious Project

Kenneth Jarecke

2018 - Ongoing

This project is designed to:

Preserve practices that were once passed down from seasoned journalists to their younger peers as they worked along side one another.

Share these practices in an accessible way the will inspire younger journalists to safeguard these time-tested skills.

Preserve the skills that are essential to producing great journalism, a cornerstone of American democracy.

Produce a historical document, a standalone magazine, of a community, located off the beaten path, that is commonly overlooked and undeserved by the media.

Quality journalism is essential to democracy. Sadly, the collapse of the publishing industry has threatened the skills and institutional knowledge required to produce great journalism.

The daily skills of being a journalist were once handed down, on the job, from one generation to the next. Journalism was a blue-collar profession that was learned on the street, under real stress and pressure, which fostered a breed of journalists who could talk to anyone. Who had contacts and connections across the social spectrum. They knew how to listen. They knew that everybody has a story worth telling, and they told these stories in a way that created both understanding and empathy in the mind of the reader. This is journalism as practiced by working-class folks who pride themselves on being honest and fair, regardless of who’s feathers they may ruffle.

Journalists once had access to a vast network of experienced talent who supported and overlooked their work, institutional support, ranging from experienced editors, physical bureaus located around the world staffed with locals, bureau chiefs, and financial support.

This system, which took centuries to evolve, has been severely eroded over the past twenty years, as the publishing industry has been largely replaced by infotainment, which mostly focuses on opinions, the more divisive and controversial, the better.

This project will showcase the importance of mentorship and institutional knowledge by creating an educational documentary of four photojournalists as they produce a magazine in one week’s time.

Two veteran and two emerging photojournalists, along with a photo researcher will be thrown into a small town, a place where nothing is happening, no airport, no interstate, no special events, and given seven days to produce a 240 page magazine. They’ll be tasked with making real pictures of normal, everyday people, simply going about their daily lives. Their challenge will be to photograph the ordinary in an extraordinary way.

They’ll produce a comprehensive, visually interesting, and insightful portrait of the people who make up the community. At the end of the week, a legendary editor will give feedback, and guide them as they produce the magazine. The magazine will then be printed and distributed back to the community as a historical document preserving their time and place in an honest way.

A film crew will document the entire process to preserve the skills and lessons learned by the photojournalists. The film, along with the magazine, will serve as a tool to teach and inspire a new generation of journalists to do the same.

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