Time’s person of the year: me?

April 11, 2007

Our Democratic Image blog officially launches today, and will run until the Democratic Image symposium, which will take place in Manchester on the 21st and 22nd of April.

In an effort to open a debate on photography in the digital age, we asked professional photographers, amateurs and artists to gather in this little part of the blogopshere to share their thoughts. One question we’ve been dying to ask them is this one:

Time magazine has voted you “The Person of the Year” for “seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game”. As a “pro”, what is your take on the democratisation of art and media in the digital age?”

Our first featured entry is by Christian Payne, the blogger and podcaster behind Documentally.com.


So I have just been voted Time Magazine’s person of the year. Well, thank-you Time.

Thank-you for the recognition. Of course there are millions of other bloggers/podcasters out there doing a similar kind of thing, many of them better than me. But as I am to share this award with them I guess you already know that.

I would also like to thank the corporate media, people like yourselves, without whom I would not have been able to find my own opinion. I would like to thank them for making me switch off, for making me sick at heart, for making me angry.

Hoarse from shouting at the TV, bored of tired newspapers, and with radio’s banalities still ringing in my ears, I climbed the stairs to my spare room and turned on the computer. Another small revolution had started.

From that spare room – the room I sit in now – I began to explore the world, clicking into other perspectives, trying to get a bearing on some kind of meaningful truth. One not screened for my viewing dis-pleasure by the fat advertising executives glutting Corporations Incorporated.

Out there, online, there are so many distractions, so many opinions. There is diversity. Most importantly, when I shouted at this screen, it shouted back. As technology lowers the cost of publishing, suddenly there was a deeper, wider, discourse cutting through the fogs of official disinformation/misinformation/partial truths. I could make my own mind up.

What was I going to do with my newfound knowledge? Start a blog? But I am a pictures man, not a writer, and to take pictures I had to be there, not in the spare room.

So I went.

It wasn´t until I sat in the back of the dusty Turkish taxi and said “Iraq please mate” that I realised I was not on holiday.

As far as beating the ‘pros’ at their own game, that’s not for me to say. Those pros stuck on a roof in Baghdad have the right to say they are there, they have some form of expertise. They have their bragging rights (even if many could do their jobs – rewriting wire service copy, sending out their Iraqi staff to do the real work – equally well in London, Barbados or anywhere else). They also, of course, have their Masters, their 90 second time slot, their worries about feeding banalities to vacuum that is the 24hr news beast.

My advantages? I am not afraid to speculate, to use some intuition (that stuff editors and management boards like to crush as soon as possible). As long as my ‘news’ remains free then I’m comfortable with that.

If a blogger turns pro they were never really blogging. They were building a portfolio in the hope they too could be a part of the corporate media.

I’m not sure if I believe that last sentence, but it has the ring of truth to it. Why join a revolution only in the hopes of one day selling out?

The fact is no one has offered to pay me to podcast. If it were to happen, I’d have to see what direction my content would go. Would it go corporate? Would it lose what edge it has? Or would the money allow me to push further and harder, to do better?

My thoughts at the moment on this subject: I feel it is the duty of the viewer/subscriber to donate something to any podcast/blog they appreciate. It can be money, it can be praise or criticism, inspiration or friendship. In so doing they are trying to help keep something good alive; they are reviving our dwindling hopes for genuine freedoms.

These are early days and it’s hard to see where all of This is going. For now though I’ll happily accept my small part of the person of the year award. If only because I get the sense we are, after many wrong turns, on the right road again.

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  1. I have seen/heard your podcast through the progressive podcast network, good work, my sentiments exactly.

    We may be on the right road again but how long before the barriers come down and we have what little freedom we have left, taken away. Net neutrality is what we have to worry about.

  2. […] mainstream media but to reform it, to correct the errors and make it better.   Even Christian acknowledges that ‘the pros’ have a place, although he seems to feel that the pressure from the citizen […]

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