The American Journalism Review recently relaunched itself as a web-only publication, a major move for a major publication.
The central article on the newly launched site is a piece by Jackie Spinner titled “‘Identity Crisis’ in Photojournalism”. It’s a terrific piece that discusses the new trend of major print media outlets shedding photographers and having their writers taking photos and video for their reporting, often using smartphones. The journalists and photographers she interviewed for the article talk in depth about how this compromises the quality of both the photos and the writing.
Spinner was the editor for The Daily Egyptian, the campus newspaper for Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, when Eclectablog photographer (and my wife) Anne C. Savage was a student photojournalist there. She reached out to Anne for her AJR article and their interview turned into a full sidebar piece titled “Anne Savage: ‘Visual Journalists Are As Important As Ever’”. In it, Anne shares her perspective on photojournalism and the role of photographers in today’s media environment.
Here’s a small excerpt from the interview:
Defend the role of the photojournalist. Why does your work still matter if a reporter can get content or a citizen journalist can provide the content?
Photography is a constantly evolving medium and we, as visual journalists, need to change and adapt with it. It wasn’t even 10 years ago when I was listening the relentless grumbling from my film photography friends about digital photography. Now it’s the argument that everyone has a camera that is bringing people in my industry down. It bothered me, too, but I’ve moved on. What I see is a need for more and more visual content. Just in the last month Twitter changed its platform to automatically reveal images rather than having to click on a link to see them.
Facebook gets more likes and shares and views on images than anything else. Newspapers have complicated websites and reporters have their own blogs and Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. There are layers upon layers of virtual space to be filled with content and visual content is still the best way to grab potential readers.
Although it is true that many photographers are struggling to find work, I believe that if they are good and willing to adapt to the changing world of information sharing, they can be a relevant part of the process. If photographs are grabbing people’s attention, it seems to me that the trend of iPhone images taken by someone with zero training in visual communication will not last and professional image-makers will once again be needed. I think it is already happening.
Both AJR pieces together make a solid case for the importance of high-quality photography in journalism both in terms of capturing the story accurately and in a compelling fashion and in terms of allowing writers to focus on the story they are telling.
Anne’s photography career bridges between the darkroom photography of the 20th century and the digital photography of today. She has embraced the challenge of a changing medium and a changing media environment and created a place for herself in it. We at Eclectablog are proud and blessed to have her as a contributor and thrilled to see her getting the notice and attention that she deserves.
Read the interview HERE.
[Anne Savage photo by Chris Savage | Eclectablog]