The Digital Journalist
The End Of The World As We Know It
October 2003

by James Colburn

First of all there are a few things I have to get off my chest:

- California has the eighth largest economy in the world. The last time an Austrian-born leader was in charge of an economy that big was 1939.

- The new California state anthem? "California Uber Alles" by the Dead Kennedys.

- The new state motto? "Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Arnold."

I was prepared for Y2K. At the end of 1999 I had everything backed up on a Macintosh computer, a paper record of all my assets and a week's supply of water and Power Bars stashed in the basement. At the stroke of midnight I was hunkered down at the office ready to transmit pictures, if necessary, with a battery powered laptop and a satellite phone. I even had a chilled bottle of Moet ready for a toast.

But this is different. You have to admit that 2003 has been weird so far:

- Rush Limbaugh is a junkie. Yes, the man that has said, "Too many whites are getting away with drug use. The answer is to find the ones that are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river," has been exposed as a drug addict with a habit going back maybe six years.

- Apple has introduced a "laptop" so big (the 17 inch screen G4) that if it ever stops working you'll be able to use it as a high school lunch tray.

- The Sex Pistols' "Never Mind The Bollocks" album has been seen in the "classic rock" section at Sam Goody's.

- Anyone can use the "Ken Burns Effect" on their stills imported into iMovie3.

- There's a darn good chance that the Cubs will play the Red Sox in the world series.

- Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.

And Arnold ("Conan" "The Terminator" "Twins") Schwartzenegger is the governor of California....

What the hell is going on?

Oh yeah. Film is dead and digital has won. All the wire services, newspapers and magazines are demanding digital photographs. As a cost saving measure. Even if it means FedExing a CD-ROM with the whole take from Boise to Manhattan. And they don' want to pay transmission fees. The phrase "you can shoot this on film" is met with a photographer's blank stare and dawning look of disbelief and wonderment similar to that of a child being offer a lollipop by the dentist that's just filled two cavities. Kodak is restructuring itself as a digital photography powerhouse, five years too late. You can now buy a digital camera for less than a grand (the Canon Digital Rebel for $899, street price) that will produce a decent 18 Mb TIFF file. A camera that would beat, hands down, the $24,000 state-of-the-art digital cameras of just a few years ago.

Heck. Even I'm thinking of getting a digital camera and an Epson color printer.... Just for research purposes you understand, not for anything "serious."

Oh never mind.

© James Colburn
Contributing Writer