Interview with John Martin

While web series remains an emerging industry, with emphasis on ‘emerging’, people have a tendency to associate web series only with works of fiction. Perhaps you could say that documentaries and factual narratives could be regarded as a niche within a niche.

As a journalist and documentary web series creator I sometimes find this a little frustrating — mostly because I find the web series format has such great potential as a new kind of serial and long-form journalism.

Therefore, while recently attending LA WebFest, I was thrilled to meet John Martin, a long-time journalist and creator of the documentary web series Hungry in the West End.

John Martin comes from a multi-disciplined background in journalism. He has worked across all media, as a writer, as a talk show host, and, a news anchor.

For years he was working with the Providence Journal, which is syndicated by the New York Times syndicate, and he was a TV critic for most of that time.

“I also wrote a bit about the media during that time,” he says.

“I actually wrote the first personal computing story written for the Providence journal back in 1993.”

John holds degrees from Missouri’s school of journalism and Brown University, and for the past eight years he has been an adjunct professor of Communication at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. Alongside an extensive career in journalism and academia, he has also worked with various advocacy groups, actively engaging in public debates spanning from environmental issues to economic development.

Perhaps it’s only natural that the seasoned professional now has moved into the online world, as a documentarian and web series creator, as he has now taken on a new role with the AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons).

“In every capacity I have been a storyteller, and when I have taught news writing at universities I have always emphasised the importance of storytelling,” says John.

“They call what we do stories for a reason. We go out, we talk to people and ask them to tell us their stories; the stories of their lives; their stories of this time of crisis, of triumph; this moment of controversy or loss… We package those stories into the stories that we tell, and that’s the key. The concept of the five ‘w’s are in there somewhere, but the real way that we learn is by sharing our stories.”

John Martin won a producer award for Hungry in the West End at LA WebFest 2013.


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