The new technology means we are all potential photojournalists
Anyone in the general public who wishes to find out how photojournalism has changed and now allows everyone to participate.
Photojournalism began in the early 20th century. In the early years, the people who had learned to take photos simply joined the ranks of the news force. After a few decades the first schools were established and in the second half of the 20th century, photojournalism became a profession that was learned in universities. Nowadays, due to technological changes, the printed media is moving away from solely hiring professional photojournalists to using pictures taken by the general public.
Integrating cameras in cell phones has produced an important cultural change, since now almost all people have a camera on hand allowing them to record events at any moment. In the past, many events were not photographed because reporters were not on the spot or there simply weren’t enough of them to cover everything. In addition, the government or the media itself easily censored the information.
With new technologies, more events than ever are being recorded, uploaded onto the Internet, and in a matter of minutes they become information circulating worldwide. All of us can photograph and publish whatever seems newsworthy to us. It is currently estimated that roughly 50% of the consumption of images represents clients publishing materials on the Internet (editorial #58, zonezero.com).
As Pedro Meyer comments in editorial #57: A photo will no longer be trusted simply because it is a photo, but rather because of the fact that the event can be confirmed through multiple images coming from all angles. This gives photography the opportunity to offer an element of reliability rarely before seen. This is particularly important at a time in which photos are no longer really trusted.
These days, the war in Iraq is covered by Iraqis. Because of their looks and language, they have a better access to localities than western reporters. User-friendly digital cameras are handed out to them and they charge much less than a professional reporter.
The death of Hussein was recorded by one of his hangmen. U.S. soldiers photographed how they tortured prisoners. As many can recall, the first and most important images of the 2005 terrorist attack on London were taken with cell phones both as videos and still photos. (editorial #70)
The most emblematic images of the war have been taken by amateurs, because photo agencies are sending in people who have never taken pictures before, but have access to certain places. We are being swept away by the tsunami of images coming from all these digital cameras flooding the entire world. Traditional photojournalism being taught at the moment in the schools all over the world needs to take a long hard look at reality and be prepared to tell students that things are no longer the way they used to be and therefore they should lower their expectations. (editorial #58).
This roundtable aims to analyze all the phenomena regarding journalistic photography, to see the changes it has undergone, and figure out where this style of photography is headed.
For more information, see editorial #81 from July 2007 and editorial #79 from April 2007.
Profile or Panel Members:
Editor of printed media.
Historian or researcher.
Note: The panel may consist of all of the above members or just some of them.
A computer and a video projector, if necessary.