by Kurt Foss
In his chosen profession, Dirck Halstead is that rare mix of historian and futurist, achiever and dreamer, pioneer and prophet.

In nearly three decades as a globe-trotting photojournalist, he has documented many of his time's greatest stories, along the way earning some of the industry's top honors.

Rather than resting on his laurels, however, Halstead now brings the same energy and enthusiasm to the challenges of the Information Age as he did to his prize-winning efforts of years past.

Where some now see in photojournalism a moribund calling, he preaches instead of the potential for a golden age of visual storytelling, empowered and enhanced by changing technologies.

"New paradigms will be created in which the primary platforms for the new journalism will no longer necessarily be the traditional giants of the media," Halstead says.

In the World Wide Web (WWW), the multimedia-enriched subset of the Internet, Halstead envisions a myriad of new opportunities for those skilled in the new tools and methods of the high-tech area. A demand for new types of visually rich, interactive content -- blending words, still images, audio, video and animation -- along with additional avenues for immediate, global distribution, will fuel the need for a new breed of cyber-savvy documentarians, Halstead says.

"As the Web continues to expand exponentially, bandwidth increases, and the morphing of television with the computer begins to become a reality," he says, "there will be an enormous need for this new kind of programming."
Welcome the era of the Digital Journalist!

Kurt Foss is a faculty associate at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, and a contributing editor for Photo District News.