The death of photojournalism

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It is rare that I read anything in Editor & Publisher with which I agree. That publication largely reflects the left wing views of the American press, and too often defends what I consider the indefensible practices of the profession. So this piece by Professor David Perlmutter comes as an unanticipated departure from their usual offerings.

The Israeli—Hezbollah war has left many dead bodies, ruined towns, and wobbling politicians in its wake, but the media historian of the future may also count as one more victim the profession of photojournalism. In twenty years of researching and teaching about the art and trade and doing photo—documentary work, I have never witnessed or heard of such a wave of attacks on the people who take news pictures and on the basic premise that nonfiction news photo— and videography is possible.

I'm not sure, however, if the craft I love is being murdered, committing suicide, or both.

Perhaps it would be more reassuring if the enemy at the gates was a familiar one—politicians, or maybe radio talk show hosts. But the photojournalist standing on the crumbling ramparts of her once proud citadel now sees the vandal army charging for the sack led by 'zombietime,' 'The Jawa Report,' 'Powerline,' 'Little Green Footballs,' 'confederateyankee,' and many others.

 I doubt that anyone who's been paying attention will, in fact, ever view the profession in the same way again. Frankly, I think that's a good thing. Too much news coverage is designed to appeal to the emotions. Very complicated issues are presented as if they were Oprah segments. And photos are too hot, too emotive, for the reader to rely on in forming an opinion on what is occurring even when they aren't staged or fiddled with.
 
h/tLittle Green Footballs

Clarice Feldman   8 19 06

It is rare that I read anything in Editor & Publisher with which I agree. That publication largely reflects the left wing views of the American press, and too often defends what I consider the indefensible practices of the profession. So this piece by Professor David Perlmutter comes as an unanticipated departure from their usual offerings.

The Israeli—Hezbollah war has left many dead bodies, ruined towns, and wobbling politicians in its wake, but the media historian of the future may also count as one more victim the profession of photojournalism. In twenty years of researching and teaching about the art and trade and doing photo—documentary work, I have never witnessed or heard of such a wave of attacks on the people who take news pictures and on the basic premise that nonfiction news photo— and videography is possible.

I'm not sure, however, if the craft I love is being murdered, committing suicide, or both.

Perhaps it would be more reassuring if the enemy at the gates was a familiar one—politicians, or maybe radio talk show hosts. But the photojournalist standing on the crumbling ramparts of her once proud citadel now sees the vandal army charging for the sack led by 'zombietime,' 'The Jawa Report,' 'Powerline,' 'Little Green Footballs,' 'confederateyankee,' and many others.

 I doubt that anyone who's been paying attention will, in fact, ever view the profession in the same way again. Frankly, I think that's a good thing. Too much news coverage is designed to appeal to the emotions. Very complicated issues are presented as if they were Oprah segments. And photos are too hot, too emotive, for the reader to rely on in forming an opinion on what is occurring even when they aren't staged or fiddled with.
 
h/tLittle Green Footballs

Clarice Feldman   8 19 06