In the short documentary Digital Edition, director James Kicklighter takes us through the transition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), which here in Atlanta is known as the Southern newspaper of record, from the old days as a stately genteel print-only staple of Atlanta daily life through its current presence in a plethora of social media and online platforms.
In a world of accelerated media evolution the AJC has embraced an “adapt or die” philosophy, moving to publishing, and more importantly interacting with, an increasingly attention deficient audience on existing and emerging platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
The paper is also hosting online content on their website, publishes reporters blogs, and even has a podcast in the style of the NPR documentary series Serial.
“While the internet seems more and more dominated by cats, porn, and smartass film reviews, the AJC has an obligation to ethical quality journalism…”
Keeping up, and the urge to keep up with devices that feed us a 24 hour news cycle, whether anything has happened or not, has become a frantic game of rapid cycling brutal filtering and prioritization of incoming information. It has pushed the human end of the machine into a state that’s been referred to as Continuous Partial Attention, a neologism coined in 2011 by Apple multimedia specialist Linda Stone. So plugged in are we that there seems to be an ethos now around the virtues of disconnecting and stepping away from the firehose of constant updates, even if they are just the latest goings on of Grumpy Cat, or any cat really. Very few devotees of the data stream seem to do more than just talk about unplugging. Like dieting, it’s fun to think about but seldom done.
While the internet seems more and more dominated by cats, porn, and smartass film reviews, the AJC has an obligation to ethical quality journalism that also drives click traffic for advertisers. This is a hard game and it changes constantly. This is the Red Queen’s race.
Kicklighter highlights the AJC’s metamorphosis to high speed around-the-clock purveyor of information and he does it fast, 26 minutes in and out, no wasted motion, interviewing reporters and other journalists at the paper who all seem excited to be challenged in the brave new world. Even the veteran reporters are keen to engage when the word can be pushed out so quickly as newsworthy (and other) events unfold.
Digital Edition will be featured at the 2017 Atlanta Film Festival lineup during the hometown documentaries event on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 7:00 PM in the 7 Stages Theatre. Visit the official website for Digital Edition.
Digital Edition (2016) Directed and edited by: James Kicklighter
9 out of 10