"We got into journalism not to be rich, but to have a rich life and hopefully create positive change," said Brian Storm in an interview with Andrew Nachison of WeMedia.com.
Photo Linked From: http://www.mediastorm.org/about/images/storm.jpg
Written by MGP student researcher Nora Crocker, May 2009
Brian Storm is the founder and president of MediaStorm, a multimedia production company that aims to "usher in the next generation of multimedia storytelling by publishing social documentary projects incorporating photojournalism, interactivity, animation, audio and video for distribution across multiple platforms."
Located in the heart of Manhattan, MediaStorm is a pioneer in the production and syndication of multimedia projects that strive to remain purpose-driven rather than profit-driven. With a team of extremely talented experts, MediaStorm produces high-quality projects committed to giving a diverse range of human subjects a voice, a voice that will hopefully call people to action.
When he graduated from College of the Ozarks, a small school located in southern Missouri, Storm had dreams of becoming a sports photographer. However, he quickly changed his mind, during his graduate years at the University of Missouri, when he recognized the power of documentary photography. He understood the lack of context still photography had and wanted to encourage photojournalists to give their subjects a voice, rather than just take their picture.
While running the New Media Lab for the Journalism School, he began to do this by producing CD-ROMs, which integrated both audio and visual elements, for the Pictures of the Year competition and the Missouri Photo Workshop.
In 1995, with a Master's degree in photojournalism, Storm began to work at MSN News, which later became MSNBC.com. During the seven years he spent there as the director of multimedia, he helped create "The Week in Pictures" and "Picture Stories."
In 2002, Storm moved on to Corbis, a digital media agency owned by Bill Gates, where he worked as the vice president of News, Multimedia, and Assignment Services. After two years, a management shakeup left Storm without a job. This gave him the opportunity to start his own business.
Storm began working on the MediaStorm project in March 2005; it launched later in the fall on November 16, 2005. Storm assembled a small team of highly talented individuals with backgrounds in photography, television, design, journalism, and information technology to make the launch of MediaStorm.org possible. Today, the website hosts a number of social documentaries that combine the elements of photography, film, and audio in order to give voice to subjects often overlooked in mainstream media.
Storm sees MediaStorm as the result of two confluent trends in the journalism industry. The first is what he calls the "democratization of production tools." With access to affordable, powerful production tools, more people than ever before are able to create and tell compelling stories. He notes the organization's use of Apple's $1,200 Final Cut Studio over that of a $250,000 Avid System.
The second trend he points to is the ease and speed of distribution made possible by the Internet. This distribution trend has made the global audience of MediaStorm possible; the website is viewed by people in more than 130 countries each month, something that would have been unfathomable just a few years ago. Perhaps more impressive is that MediaStorm relies on word of mouth, rather than marketing, to attract an audience. This "surge of connectivity" is strengthened by the emergence of social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, which are both used by MediaStorm.
"That's amazing to me, the way in which we have an ability to connect people who care about important stories from all over the globe," said Storm in an interview with Steve Weinberg of the Missouri School of Journalism.
The MediaStorm organization is involved in four lines of business: a publication, a multimedia agency, a production studio, and workshops. MediaStorm has produced publications for a number of organizations, including Starbucks, the Council on Foreign Relations, and National Geographic Magazine. They provide consultation services to help their corporate clients develop a leading multimedia approach and improve their technology infrastructure.
The MediaStorm team also leads Advanced Multimedia Workshops, in which they teach people how to use and distribute in multiple media formats. These workshops are meant to share the MediaStorm methodology. Storm looks forward to the time when other multimedia companies share the same approach as MediaStorm; he said, in the same interview with Nachison, that "it's far easier to change how journalism works when many others join in to help pave the way."
Financing MediaStorm has proved challenging and has therefore, spawned some creative economic ventures. One way the organization makes money is through the purchase of DVDs or books associated with the documentaries featured on the site. Customers make purchases through Amazon.com; MediaStorm gets credit not only for the sale of their associated products, but also for the sale of anything that the customer buys during that session.
MediaStorm has also established a way to auction off the exclusive rights to certain projects in an "e-bay-style" market. This type of auctioning style has the capacity to allow the industry to drive the price up.
In 2007, MediaStorm won an Emmy for Broadband Documentaries, took first place in both the best of Photojournalism Contest and Pictures of the Year Contest, and won a Webby Award for the Magazine category. In 2008, MediaStorm won two Webby Awards and the award for Best Use of Multimedia in the Pictures of the Year Contest.
Some current projects being featured on MediaStorm.org include "Intended Consequences" by Jonathon Torgovnik, about the rape of Rwandan women during the 1994 genocide, "The Marlboro Marine" by Luis Sinco, about the struggles of a soldier returning home from the war in Iraq, and "The Ninth Floor" by Jessica Dimmock, about young drug addicts who lived in squalor on the ninth floor of a Manhattan apartment building.
Storm serves on the Advisory Board for the Council on Foreign Relations, Human Rights Watch, The Eddie Adams Workshop, the Alexia Foundation, and the Brooks Institute's Jourdnalism School. He has judged the University of Missouri's Pictures of the Year and the National Press Photographers Association's Best of Photojournalism contests.
Storm has some short and long term ideas for the future of MediaStorm. In the near future he would like to welcome some additional expert talent to the MediaStorm team. He would like to hire a member solely committed to business development so that he could spend less of his time on business administration and more of it on producing. Long term, he envisions a center where the most-talented storytellers in the world can come together to share ideas and create significant work, a MediaStorm campus of sorts.
"In my estimation, MediaStorm has yet to arrive," said Storm in the interview with Nachison. "We certainly don't have it all figured out, but we are constantly working to learn more and improve our craftAs an industry, we don't know where we are headed, so there's a bit of mystery, but you know it's going to be one hell of a ride."