My whole time in Amsterdam I wondered, how? How were there so many similar yet different restaurants and bakeries lining the streets? How were people walking around with lit joints filled with marijuana in their hands? How were stores openly selling psychedelic drugs? How were there windows lining some streets, filled with half-naked women selling their bodies to whatever man walked inside? And lastly, despite all of this, how was there so much beauty within the city – colorful tulip markets, awe-inspiring museums, and quaint, sunlit canals?
Although I had researched Amsterdam before arriving, no article I read online or post I scrolled through on Instagram could have answered these questions. I feel that in order to fully showcase the city, in all of it’s beauty and eccentricity, a mobile journalist would need to document a weekend, week, or even month in Amsterdam.
My entire ttime in Amsterdam, I kept thinking about what an amazing documentary or news story that could be made based on the happenings within the city. I’ve watched documentaries and news stories about every strange topic, from the fall of Ashley Madison to the rise of the Buddhafield cult. However, I have yet to come across a documentary or story as compelling as what I witnessed this weekend.
While a documentary on Amsterdam would be fascinating, it would be extremely difficult to get a proper film crew into a majority of the bizarre and interesting spots within Amsterdam, which have “do not film or photograph” plastered outside. For this reason, mobile journalism-based special or series about Amsterdam would be the perfect way to capture the city. Mobile journalism, or mojo, is an emerging form of digital storytelling that allows reporters to use portable electronic devices, such as iPhones, to gather, edit, and distribute news. Through this form of storytelling, a journalist could easily document the indescribable enchantment and strangeness of Amsterdam, in a way that Snapchat stories or Instagram posts simply cannot.
There are many pros associated with this form of journalism. For starters, journalists could enter and film in areas that people with large video cameras and supplies would be prohibited from entering. In Amsterdam, this would encompass many areas of the city, including coffee shops and the Red Light District. Additionally, using an small camera that is easy to handle would allow journalists to capture many of the beautiful sights of the canals that can only be accessed by boat. Lastly, if the journalist documenting Amsterdam decided to interview characters from the city, whether it be tourists, clients of prostitution, or owners of coffee shops, he or she would be able to have a much more candid interaction, without putting stress on the interviewee.
Since there is currently no documentary or news series that allows viewers to gain insight into the madness and magic that is the city of Amsterdam, I encourage you all to go! I won’t guarantee that you will necessarily be aching to go back, but I will guarantee that it will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen.