Reuter’s The Wider Image, Free for iPad

| Free on iTunes

There was a time when I thought I might make it as a photojournalist. I loved shooting photos and enjoyed writing, it seemed the perfect vocation for me.

I was young and full of impractical dreams. I believed I could make it on natural talent alone. I didn't realize that I had none, at least as far as writing goes. It has taken years of banging away at the keys to be able to compose with what meager skills I have today, and that's not saying much. I could and still can benefit from a few classes in writing skills. My photographic chops, on the other hand, were a bit more developed. Not anything that would win any sort of award, but the stuff I shot had merit.

Free on iTunes

Photojournalism, however, requires much more than writing and shooting skills. The journalist must be able to get into places and situations others might run away from, screaming, and then be able to capture poignant moments that typify the story he or she is trying to tell.

He or she must also be able to disassociate him or herself from what's going on in front of the camera, which often presets a moral dilemma: Upon witnessing an atrocity being committed or about to be, do you forget the shot and intercede and prevent the act from happening? Where do you draw the line?

Some will reason that by bearing witness to the act and then exposing it to the public at large, the journalist is, in fact, interceding, not in that specific act, but in the ideology behind it. He or she is making others aware and in doing so, hoping to prevent more horrible acts from being committed. I could not do that, so my photojournalistic dreams remain unrealized. Likely the world is better for it.

Though my brief foray into photojournalism was...um, brief, it has taught me to appreciate the products of those who are in it as a career. What a photojournalist shoots is intended to affect you in some way. It's hard to look at a shot of people in sometimes desperate situations and not feel or think something. Often the stories behind the photos are not newsworthy, but they deserve to be told. This is why we have Time and Life Magazines, to help fill in the vast spaces between headline news and our personal concerns.

Of course, this is the 21 century. While the family car remains earthbound, personal robots are hardly as smart as a bug, and hotels in space remain a pipe dream how we consume news is definitely inline with the times.

Smartphones and tablets are quickly replacing newspapers and magazines because content, once static and quickly dated in paper media is now interactive and fresh. Do you have a topic or concern you want to know more about? Don't just read one article in magazine about it, get all the background data, statistics, and current stories you can handle through your mobile device. Learn about families Bangladesh, bears in the Arctic tundra, nightlife in Bangkok, or tribal ceremonies in the Andes. It's all there, and it's all captured for us by photojournalists.

In this week's Free on iTunes I'll be looking at a particular photojournalistic outlet, one that you might not have expected.

Reuter's The Wider Image is an interesting and important news outlet if for no other reason than that it features stories that likely would not appear anywhere else. They are intimate views into the world many may not know exist, making each story a more rewarding read.

The Wider Image

The stories, however, might not get viewed if the medium in which they are presented is not up to the task, and I'm happy to report that The Wider Image is up to that task, and then some.

The Wider ImageThe home page of The Wider Image.

Once you are past the opening screen you are presented with a collage of images, all very compelling. The major and current stories are labeled while the smaller images are left to speak for themselves. Touching the screen, however, will reveal labels indicating the geographical location of the photos and stories behind them.

The Wider ImageA collage of other stories.

Tap a photo of interest and you are delivered to the title screen for that story where you'll see a lead paragraph for the story, the title photo, and thumbnails of additional media along the left side. Notice the "window shade" icon beneath the main photo, flick it up to reveal the story's content. You can then scroll through, reading, viewing photos and movies, and interacting with other special content.

The Wider ImageFront page to a story. Note the window shade icon.

The far left of the screen is lined with several navigation icons that will get you back to the main page, or give you views into the content. Explore lets you access the stories by published dates, photographer, location and more. You can set up your own views by selecting your favorite stories. You can also follow your favorite photographers or locations. And in case you want to go back to a story and can't recall its particulars The Wider Image maintains a history of what you've read. That's pretty cool.

The Wider ImageMultimedia content abound.

While the interface gets you to the stories, it's the stories and the photos that will keep you coming back for more. These are all top notch articles with images the sear themselves into your mind. There are no ads, no in-app purchases to deal with, just stories and media.

The Wider ImageFollow a photographer or location.

The Wider Image is an iPad-only app, but that's OK because these stories and images must be viewed on a screen larger than what even the iPhone 5 offers. It's free and it's very good. This is yet one example of how to do apps right on the iPad.

That's a wrap for this week. More iOS freebies next week right here. Stay tuned.

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Comments

wab95

Vern:

I deal with phot journalists on a fairly regular basis, as they come out to interview my team and me in our work on site. Two other qualities of good photo journalists, I believe, are:

1) the ability to identify, on the fly, a photographical moment that eloquently captures and conveys the essence of a situation, be it war, famine, a business, or simply a busy clinic conducting a field trial in the midst of urban squalor.

2) the ability to put themselves in the reference frame of their readers, who have not seen what they (the journalist) is seeing, and be able to synthesise picture and words into a pithy and coherent narrative, such that the reader is transported to that scene, and comes away with true understanding.

The good photo journalist is that rare but ideal blend of story teller and artist.

That said, Vern, I think you run the risk of under-valuing your own writing talents. I was, and remain, a huge fan of your old stories about palling around with SJ a few years back. They were both informative and fun. As for this column, I look forward to reading it every week, as you are able to take what could be an otherwise dry topic, makes it interesting, and convert the subjects into something meaningful for the reader. The proof is in the downloads that follow. Enough said.

I am delighted that there is an app like the Wider Image, which can bring these other, remoter worlds to people. Our iPads and other ultraportables are windows into other places and new regions of thoughts and ideas. I remain optimistic about the benefits of exposure that this emerging technology can have on young minds, particularly those with otherwise limited exposure to people, places and practices alien to themselves.

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