Parkland victims reflect one year later


The New York Times published an article on Feb. 14 remembering the Parkland Incident. It is the one-year anniversary since the devastating and heartbreaking shooting that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Parkland, Fla. The article written by Patricia Mazzei is beautifully written since it not only outlines the horrific events that happened this day but also shows the lasting impact one year later. 

In the article, photographs are taken by Eve Edelheit. These photographs I believe are the strongest element of this article and why photography is so important in journalism. In a series of interviews nine members from the Stoneman Douglas community including students, teachers, police officers and parents reflect on this tragic event a year later. In each segment of the article there is a photo of the person interviewed and beneath is their story. 

I love the way Mazzei approaches this matter because instead of writing an article explaining all the horrible events that occurred that day again— she let the people who actually experienced it be able to shine and tell their story. Reading these stories are extremely impactful hearing all the different things these people had to go through. It is important to know these stories because after this school shooting occurred, many citizens wanted to see a change but shootings in America and around the world continue today. 

The photographs are mostly candid, showing the true emotions the person felt. This article felt very raw and that I could relate to these people interviewed on an emotional and personal level even though I haven’t been what they have been through. It shows again and again the courage people have when violence outbursts occur and how we all must come together in order to remain strong. I hope journalism continues to use this approach of photography and journalism merged together because it makes the article and the story itself more relatable and interesting. 

Woman in 9/11 photo hires photographer


A woman in a famous photograph and the man who took the picture reunited on her wedding day, 17 years later.

On the tragic day of 9/11, photographer Phil Penman snapped a historic photograph in which Joanne Capestro is shown moments after escaping the 87th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York, where she worked as an executive assistant. Seventeen years later, the woman in the famous photograph contacted Phil Penman to have him as her wedding photographer.

The image on 9/11 captured by Penman is well recognized because of the details and rawness that are noticed in the photo. In an article written by Nicole Darrah, published by Fox News, the popular photograph is described, “Capestro and her friend, who are seen covered in debris, ash and dirt”.

Joanne Capestro wanted to employ Penman as her wedding photographer so that he would be with her on “the best day of my life and the worst day of my life” said Capestro.

Fox News reported this emotional story in a respectable way since the article is based on such a sensitive topic and sad memory. The story shows the beauty and bond between two people that came along over time after experiencing something so tragic and unforgettable.

Seventeen years later, surviver of 9/11, Joanne Capestro, stood alongside Penman in a moment of happiness and joy.

Playmate prosecuted in privacy case


Dani Mathers, Playboy’s 2015 Playmate of the Year, has been fired from her job, banned from all LA Fitness gyms and is now being hit with legal penalties after posting a nude locker room photo of a stranger to her Snapchat account.

Mathers is being accused of posting a photo of a naked 70-year-old woman in the shower area of a Los Angeles fitness center, with the caption, “If I cant unsee this then you can’t either,” sparking immediate backlash and, on Friday, criminal charges.

Yes that is right, Los Angeles city prosecutors have charged Mathers with a misdemeanor invasion of privacy, with the Los Angeles Times calling it a “pioneering prosecution against body-shaming.”

An article appearing in the Washington Post on July 18 written by Rachel Premack outlined the legalities of the case, noting the act is illegal under California law. A 2014 revised section of the California penal code notes that it is a misdemeanor to look “with the intent to invade the privacy of a person” into places like a changing room, where a person has “a reasonable expectation of privacy,” with a camera. Under this law, it’s illegal generally to distribute an image of the “intimate body part or parts” of another person “without the consent of or knowledge of that other person.”

As a result, Mathers has been banned from all LA Fitness centers across the United States, and has been indefinitely suspended from her job as a host on “The Heidi and Frank Show” on 95.5 KLOS in Los Angeles, TMZ reported.

Phil McCausland of NBC News, stated that the case could send “legal shockwaves,” noting that this is one of the first times someone has been criminally charged for a body-shaming social media post.

While body-shaming in itself is not a crime, it is important to note that there are circumstances in which invading or violating ones privacy to do so can be deemed as a crime.

In the midst of the social media frenzy, Dani Mathers issued a public apology via her Twitter account, saying, “I’m sorry for what I did … I need to take some time to myself now to reflect on why I did this horrible thing.”

Whether sincere or not, courts do not recognize apologies and, according to NBC News, if convicted, Mathers could face up to six months of jail time and a $1,000 fine.

The arraignment is schedule for Nov. 28.

Swastika in Swiss train station removed


A swastika image has received a lot of hate and criticism from the Swiss population.

The SBB is the national railway company of Switzerland. It hung up the sign as a protest against immigrants being allowed into Switzerland.

According to the Tages Anzeiger, a Swiss newspaper, customers of the SBB have been deeply hurt.

Technically, the SBB must allow such advertisement. According to a rule made in 2012, the open spaces in train stations count as public space. However due to many strong reactions from customers the SBB has removed the sign.

As this sign is pretty well known to most of the population, it received a lot of media attention from all over Switzerland. No matter that the sign was only present in a few train station, people were not happy. This in return got the attention of the media, which caused even more people to read about it.

Newspapers and radio stations went to the train stations to talk to people, and ask them their opinion. It was no shock that all the interviewed customers did not want the sign up. This caused the news media to write and report about the feelings the people had. With the help of the news media the sign was removed, which makes a lot of people happy.

Instagram star quits social media


Australian model and Instagram star Essena O’Neill announced she was quitting social media this week via YouTube.

According to ABC News, O’Neill, who had more than 700,00 followers on Instagram and 260,000 subscribers on YouTube, posted a shocking confession announcing that social media made her “miserable” and that online and mobile-sharing platforms can be unhealthy. She decided that she wanted to shut down all of her accounts.


According to CNN, O’Neill’s social media friends Nina and Randa Nelson published a YouTube video alleging she was doing this as a stunt to get more followers.

All social media platforms have been exploding with both support and opposition for O’Neill’s stance. This debate has been a hot topic for news organizations alike.


I support O’Neill’s stance because her issue with social media is situational. She said that she didn’t like how the pressure to be perfect influenced her mental health. She also said that she wanted to set a good example for her younger sister and show her that she doesn’t have to be perfect and likeable online to be happy.


I do think that social media outlets are informative and necessary in this day and age for the spreading of information. Although, I don’t think that personal business accounts like O’Neill that promote unrealistic body images and clothing brands are necessary.

The age of tragic selfie


Accompanied by the popularity of the social media, selfie photography is the most common way of showing one’s life to the world. People may see loads of them posted on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.

Recently, many people have become concerned about the safety issues involved in taking a selfie because there is a rising number of selfie-related fatalities. It was reported that two men in the Ural Mountains, Russia died of posing for a photo while pulled the pin from a hand grenade. Also in Russia, a university graduate fell to death after trying to take a selfie while hanging from a bridge.

A handful of other selfie-related death incidents have been reported from elsewhere in the world. In the U.S., recently a man died after shooting himself in the neck while taking a selfie.

According to a BBC news report, at least 12 people have died this year while taking pictures of themselves, making the practice more deadly than shark attacks, of which there recorded eight deaths in 2015.

It sounds striking to me that people would risk their lives of taking some pictures, in order to obtain a three-digit likes?

“The more extreme it is, the more likely you are to stand out and get lots of likes and comments”, said Jesse Fox, a researcher at Ohio State University. “The pictures that people post on social media can tell an interesting story about their personality.”

I think the ultimate goal of life is to living in reality and connect with real human beings. One may utilize internet to make up for some fulfillment that reality cannot provide. The fulfillment includes ideally living in a world free of anxiety and presenting an ideal self. People who put their lives on risk to take a selfies in order to woo their virtual friends apparently confuse which world should take priorities. Likes is not the measure in real life.

Sensationalism of 9/11 video coverage


Today marks the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, an event that changed America in so many ways – with news coverage being one of them.

The live coverage of the jets hitting the World Trade Center in New York City exposed millions of Americans to the horror that was happening, in real time, during the terrorist attack. News networks did not have time to plan a way to present the footage in any scripted manner; it didn’t matter if you were the anchorman of NBC or a stay-at-home mother watching the TV in her kitchen as she made her children breakfast. We were all faced with a crisis, and we were all able to see it unfold before our eyes – and that’s the kind of sensationalism that has impacted news coverage and shaped the way viewers react and commemorate certain events in the past 14 years.

Certainly the 9/11 attacks would still be a landmark event in American history, regardless if they had been caught on camera or not. However, the sensational – and horrifying — footage had so many immediate implications on the nation, both for the viewers and the media.

In the days after the attacks, David Westin, president of ABC News, ordered the the video not be repeated continuously so as not to disturb viewers, especially children. This type of decision raises the ethical question that journalists have been faced with time and time again, about where to draw the line in terms of how much we expose to the public. This applies to not only disturbing content, but content that threatens national security – which also became a major issue in the aftermath of 9/11, which I won’t get into here.

But where is that line? There is no definitive answer, but most would agree that even if coverage is shocking and violent, the viewer has the right to see it. In cases like 9/11, there really is no warning for such a catastrophe, and in live situations, there really is no opportunity for such a question to even be considered. In fact, in the past week or so, the nation has been abuzz about the live coverage of the shooting of two journalists by their former co-worker while broadcasting for WDBJ. The entire event was caught on camera and aired live without warning. And that coverage – that immediate visual access to the gruesome tragedy – completely changed the way the news was handled and perceived. The live video element of the story created a sensational wake following the incident that has sparked debate about the nation’s gun laws and other security issues. People are shot and killed every hour of the day throughout the world; but it was the live coverage of the event that made this one particular incident so sensational.

In this day and age, the landscape for journalism is constantly evolving with the developments of new technologies that give way to new platforms of communication. Video footage has been the leading form of journalism that has created lasting reaction in the past decades, and with technologies like smart phones and online platforms like social media, content has become immediately accessible to almost everyone. The footage of the 9/11 attacks that was recorded 14 years ago today is a landmark for broadcast journalism to show just how lasting the impact of visual news coverage can be.

Images, videos in news tell stories


Severe weather. Violent crimes. Jaw-dropping plays. Sure, reading descriptions about these things are great, but think about how much pictures and videos take these to the next level. We’re able to witness the news with our own eyes, without having to rely solely on the words of a journalist, and that’s an incredible thing. 150407-walter-scott-shooting-mn-1915_49a17602bafad4aeb9048146c298c361

Take the recent occurrence in South Carolina, for example. A man was fatally shot by a police officer, creating an uproar within the community and across the country.

With the power of video, people around the world were able to see this disturbing event in plain view. This will help the public learn the facts rather than be fed rumors, because video doesn’t lie.

Images are an extremely powerful tool in journalism. They tell a story and capture moments that we would have otherwise missed. They let us learn the truth without risk of false information. They’re candid, real and often shocking.

Without them, journalism would run the risk of being bland or uninteresting. As can be seen in the photo to the right, images are a vital tool in journalism that not only back a journalist’s words, but also significantly add to them and enhance the experience for the reader.

Racist undertones of Paper photos


Thanks to social media and the Internet, by now most people are familiar with Kim Kardashians “Break the Internet” movement and photos from her cover and spread in Paper magazine.

While some people are either laughing at the photos and creating mocking memes or accusing the magazine of using Photoshop, there is a deeper underlying issue regarding the overall concept of the shoot.

imageAs confirmed by the editorial director of the magazine, renowned French photographer Jean-Paul Goude’s shoot with Kardashian was aimed at recreating his own work.

Jean-Paul Goode wanted to recreate his famous 1976 ”Champagne Incident” photo from a book entitled: “Jungle Fever,” which originally featured nude black model, Carolina Beaumont.

His original 1976 “Champagne Incident” photo was said to evoke the image of Saartjie Baartman.

imageSaartjie “Sarah” Baartman was a black South African woman brought to London in the 19th century and displayed for her large buttocks.

Baartman was the most famous of at least two Khoikhoi women who were exhibited as freak show attractions in 19th-century Europe.

Jean-Paul Goude has a long history of using women of color in outrageous, over-sexualized and sometimes animalistic depictions for his pictures. Some people find that his shoot with Kim continues in that long tradition of blatantly flirting with racism.

The editorial director of Paper magazine has commented to confirm Photoshop rumors, but he still will not comment on the race issue allegations of the spread.

We need to be fact checking photos, too


Part of being a journalist is knowing how to check your facts before you publish an article stating that the facts are true. You make sure they came from a reliable source and, if possible, that other sources agree with this information.

But how do you check the credibility of a photo you want to publish? Do you even need to?

“A pictures worth a thousand words,” the expression goes. So, photos should be showing you what the facts are, because it’s right there on the screen for you to see. However, digital photography and Photoshop are making it nearly impossible to find a photo that has not been edited in some way.

Correcting color, brightness, contrast and other technical details is expected of photographers. These details, however, do not impact the content of the photo, just the quality.

Now, it is so easy for anyone with basic Photoshop skills to edit in something that was not originally there, or erase something that was. This makes it extremely difficult to tell what is real and what is exaggerated.

If you publish a photo that has been altered, you are supposed to specify that the content has been changed, but is it really possible to regulate that? If you find a free domain image you want to attach onto an article, how do you know if it has been altered?

The digital age is making it easier to share and show what’s going on all over the world, but it is also making it harder to believe our own eyes.

War without the difficult photos


Come the mid-19th century in America, among all of the social changes, political shifts, and uproars, the first footage of war was recorded. It was the Civil War and the photographs taken began to break down the glorification of all war had been played out to be.

Nowadays, the photo on the front cover of a newspaper can make or break the story during wartime. The American public is a sensitive one and, in turn, the American media is very strict in what it publishes and what it does not.

So, in a war zone where there are almost no limitations to what one can capture, I ask: When is an image considered too gory, insensitive and, to an extent, a breach of privacy? Does holding back this kind of photography blind the American public from the tragedies of war? And is it hard to calculate the photographer’s absence during war?

On Feb. 28, 1991, American photojournalist Kenneth Jarecke stood in front of a horrid sight: a charred man who had been engulfed in flames, trying to escape his vehicle. He snapped the shot. The man was an Iraqi soldier and had fought for Saddam Hussein’s army during the Gulf War when Kuwait was annexed. Time Magazine and The Associated Press dismissed the hypnotizing image, saving Americans from confronting the excruciating brutality of war and ultimately, spitting up their morning coffee.

For Jarecke, who had taken the photo in the midst of endless ceasefire, who had put his life on the line, who had captured the ugly to captivate those sitting pretty, he was left confused. In an interview with The Atlantic, he said: “When you have an image that disproves the myth (of a clean, uncomplicated war), then you think it’s going to be widely published.”

These photos that Jarecke and countless others in countless other wars have taken not only serve the media to inform and to shock, but serve history as a sort of reminder and lesson. And what good is a lesson when you can’t learn from it?

At the same time, however, does the photojournalist go too far sometimes? In this world where tragedies occur in the blink of a second and photographs can be captured in the blink of a millisecond, Jarecke and his contemporaries must grapple with the moral dilemma of: “do I take the picture?” Because to the photojournalist, the moment of hesitation is not due so much to the fact that they’ll worry how the media or audience will react, but instead, due to the fact that they’ll worry how those they are capturing will react. The photojournalist has much at stake here: his reputation, his humanity, his decency, his values, his sanity.

Later, in American Photo magazine, Jarecke wrote: “I wasn’t thinking at all about what was there; if I had thought about how horrific the guy looked I wouldn’t have been able to make the picture.”

To take the photographer out of the battle would surely tell a different story about it. And I can only hope that, one day, the power of photos will stump the power of war.

If your curiosity was piqued, here is the photo that inspired this blog:

Are phones killing photojournalism?


I dare you to find someone who does not have a camera on their phone. With how popular smart phones are, it’s next to impossible. Even my 90-year-old grandpa’s flip phone has a camera on it (not that he knows how to use it).

Since camera phones are so popular, there is usually always someone around who can take a photo of an even right as it happens.

There are a lot more everyday people with camera phones than there are photojournalists. The exact moment when an event occurs, it is much more likely that someone with a camera phone will be there versus a photojournalist waiting to get the shot.

I do not think an amateur with an iPhone will be able to completely replace a professional photojournalist. The quality and composition of a professionally shot photo will never go out of style; People will always want to see that, but it’s not always an option.

If we look back on 9/11 and the coverage of the event, you can find tons of beautifully shot, powerful images expression the horror everyone felt that day, or showcasing the bravery of some American heroes.

However, there are shaky, blurry videos and images shot by people just walking along the street that we are shown over and over again, because these images captured the exact moment that the first plane hit the North Tower.

No one knew this was going to happen, so no professional photojournalists were on assignment or expecting to cover the first tower, like they were for events later than day and week.

Back in 2001, camera phones were not even available. Most of the videos and images of the first tower were shot with digital cameras. If this event occurred 2014 instead of 2001, there would be a lot more coverage because everyone has a camera phone they can just whip out.

Not only are the availability of camera phones decreasing the need for photojournalists, but social media is making it extremely simple to share these images with the world. You no longer need to work for TIME Magazine for everyone to see your photos, you can just share it on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook.

Still, photojournalists will always be needed. There are some places your Average Joe with an iPhone will not be able or willing to go to. There are very few people brave enough to do what James Foley did, for example. However, camera phones are cutting down this need for photojournalists, since they are proving to be better at documenting breaking, unexpected news.

Media ‘Photoshopping’ bill proposed


It’s no secret that fashion campaigns and celebrity photo-shoots aren’t released to the public until every aspect is perfected through the art of Photoshop. People in the media look flawless and are usually airbrushed from head to toe.

An example of a Photoshopped image (Courtesy of Google images)

An example of a Photoshopped image (Courtesy of Google images)

Although certain companies like American Eagle are attempting to break through this long-used system and tradition of heavily Photoshopping models and celebrities to make them look impossibly perfect, there are still far too many companies using these techniques.

Youth nowadays are very impressionable, and the percentage of eating disorders and self harm among teens is unfortunately not getting any lower. This issue doesn’t only affect youth, as it can be applicable to people of all ages, even surpassing gender barriers.

People are being exposed to unattainable images of beauty, as they are fabricated through technology and appear almost inhuman. Some bodies are skewed to the point where it is scientifically and biologically impossible.

In an effort to reconcile the wrongs that Photoshop is causing in modern-day society, lawmakers have co-sponsored a bi-partisan bill that would make misleading Photoshopped pictures illegal.

A before and after example of Photoshopping (Courtesy of Google images)

A before and after example of Photoshopping (Courtesy of Google images)

The bill, called the “Truth in Advertising Act,” was introduced by Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Democratic Representative Lois Capps.

This act would require the Federal Trade Commission to report on any “materially change [in] the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies of the individuals depicted.”

It would also require the regulatory body to work with health and business professionals and experts to establish a set of standardized and safe practices when it comes to altering images.

The bill’s introductory paragraph supports the aforementioned fact that these images are enabling eating disorders.

“The dissemination of unrealistic body standards has been linked to eating disorders … [and] has a particularly destructive health effect on children and teenagers.”

Capps expressed that the legislation seeks to reduce the amount of Photoshopped images on the market, as they are negatively affecting young people, especially girls.

“Just as with cigarette ads in the past, fashion ads portray a twisted, ideal image for young women,” said Capps. “And they’re vulnerable. As sales go up, body image and confidence drops.”

This bill sounds too good to be true. We’re in an age where no ad or image slips by without being retouched in some shape or form. This society is in too deep with Photoshopping, and I foresee quite a bit of backlash coming from many different sources in various industries if this bill goes through.

Indie Journalism thrives in Brazil


Last summer a wave of protests occurred in Brazil. These protests resulted
in a group of “indie journalists” coming together to report the events under the name Ninja (an acronym that stands for Independent Narratives Journalism and Action in Portuguese).

The group started gaining a lot of attention for their unscripted and uncut videos as well as pictures, which put reporters in the shoes of the protesters.

Ninja’s photos show what the police barricade looks like from ground level and they are close enough to see the expressions on the protesters faces: happiness, fear, pain. We see something in the protest that is much more human. By this I mean we are seeing an up-close experience, opposed to a distant look that shows everything, but still reveals nothing.

It’s like watching a security tape of a robbery versus being the cashier there while the robbery occurred. You know what happened, but you can’t quit grasp the emotional content.

I think that this is why Ninja gained so much momentum. We are drawn to what is familiar to us, what we can relate to; and that is not a far shot of streets and people.

Ninja is able to draw audiences in because they show why we should care. They expose us to real people and show us truth, rather than tell us. This is a quality I believe professional news sources would benefit from adopting in moderation.

The trouble with using Photoshop


Photos have leaked of Lady Gaga’s Versace campaign, but they’re not the flawless, Donatella-esque images we’ve all seen. Rather, they’re the un-photoshopped versions, and the results are a little jarring.

While Gaga looks streamlined and airbrushed in the published images, she looks undoubtedly more realistic in the non-retouched pictures. She sports no makeup, chapped lips and bruises on her legs.

Target's photoshop fail to create a thigh gap (Source:

Target’s photoshop fail to create a thigh gap (Source:

Gaga's Versace campaign, unretouched (Source:

Gaga’s Versace campaign, unretouched (Source:

The perfection of the image goes against Gaga’s mantra of “Born this Way,” which celebrates the beauty in imperfection. Many publications, though, continue to Photoshop their images to obscene amounts.

Target recently put up an image on their website of a bathing suit model who has a rather rectangular area missing from her upper thigh. This was a Photoshop mishap that was created in order to give the model a “thigh gap.”

Multiple other Photoshop fails have occurred, and many are those which were created to achieve a skinner look for the models.

The heavy-handed Photoshopping of already thin models has given rise to the obsession with being thin and having a thigh gap. Tumblr, a social media blog site, has also contributed to the thigh gap obsession, as many girls reblog and post images of skeletal looking girls with the hashtag “thigh gap” and “thinspo” or thinspiration.

The problem has gotten so real that now when you search thigh gap on tumblr, a message comes up entitled, “Everything okay?” that gives numbers to eating disorder help centers.

As a mode of activism, American Eagle’s lingerie line, aerie, launched their #aerieReal Campaign, in which they vow to use real girl models of all sizes who are not retouched by Photoshop. It is such a change to see images on the computer screen that are not the idealized female form.

While I appreciate the use of real girls, I do have to say that it is better to view clothes on a more perfected image. Yet there is a difference between a little tweak here and there, and a complete disregard for humanness. Publications and companies should use Photoshop with a lighter hand.

Over-sexualization of magazine covers


The May issue of Golf Digest magazine is garnering some serious press attention, due to its unlikely cover star. Instead of featuring an actual golfer, it instead has Maxim model and Wayne Gretzky’s daughter, Paulina, on the cover. The model poses seductively with a golf club and is wearing curve-hugging white spandex pants and a sports bra.

Paulina Gretzky on the cover of Golf Digest  (Source: huffingtonpost)

Paulina Gretzky on the cover of Golf Digest (Source: huffingtonpost)

Clearly, Golf Digest is banking on the advertising technique of “sex sells.” But the cover has LPGA golfers up in arms. LGPA pro Angela Stanford says, “Nobody can argue with [the fact that sex sells]. It’s just the way it is. But the LPGA has some attractive women and very fit women, so why not use them? I’m just baffled by it.” Stacy Lewis, a two-time LPGA Champion stated, “Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines. But at the same time you’d like to see a little respect for the women’s game.”

The last time Golf Digest featured a LPGA player on their cover was in 2008. Since then, the only other women who have been featured on the cover have been Kate Upton and Holly Sonders, a Golf Channel anchor.

Many magazines and news outlets stray from their topic and use sex to sell. The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is a prime example of that. What do bikini clad women have to do with sports?

The use of using sex to sell is an element that relates to the greater issue of the over-sexualization of women. Putting a scantily clad female on a magazine cover versus one who is well-clothed will sell more issues, but is the feature story going to be as intriguing?

Which would sell more? An issue of Golf Digest with an overweight PGA player on its cover or a Maxim model? The editors at the magazine asked this question and clearly, came up with their answer. Yet, does an avid golfer, someone who would be reading and purchasing Golf Digest want to hear about how Paulina Gretzky missed the ball completely at her dad’s golf tournament or would they rather hear tips from an actual PGA pro?

Photographer CyCyr's mocking of Paulina's cover using men. source: huffingtonpost

Photographer CyCyr’s mocking of Paulina’s cover using men (Source: huffingtonpost).

While sex may sell covers, it certainly doesn’t garner respect for a publication.

A photographer named CyCyr even mocked the Golf Digest by posting a series of photos of men dressed in the same revealing outfit Gretzky wore on the cover. The results are a perfect commentary on the ridiculousness of over-sexualizing a woman on a men’s magazine cover.

Magazines should stick to their target readers versus using quick, “easy” tactics to sell issues. That’s the way publications earn respect. Vogue, for example, is the most respected fashion magazine in the world. But then again, they did just put Kim Kardashain on the cover.

Uproar against ‘upskirting’


The highest court of Massachusetts ruled Wednesday that it was not illegal to take photos up the skirts of women without them knowing. And the decision is getting a lot of news media attention today.

Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice Margot Bostford of the said that these “upskirt” photographs were not technically against the law because technically the women were not nude or partially nude.

The ruling was based on the court case about Michael Robinson, 32, who was arrested in 2010 after being accused of taking cell phone photographs and videos up the skirts of women while riding Boston transportation. Police arranged a decoy operation that caught Robinson in the act. Wednesday’s ruling reversed one by a lower court that denied Robinson’s motion to dismiss the case, according to CNN.

After the decision was announced, social media exploded against “upskirting.” Citizens claimed the right to privacy beneath their own clothing.

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A slew of prosecutors and lawmakers disagree with the decision and are trying to change the law, agreeing that the technicalities of the law violate the spirit of protecting privacy.

It seems like the Massachusetts court system has some explaining to do.

Right now, the state has various wiretapping laws in place. According to the Digital Media Law Project, it is illegal in Massachusetts to secretly record a conversation, whether in person or by another medium. All parties must be informed of the recording in a conversation or telephone call. If the parties do not wish to be recorded, they have a right to leave the conversation.

But, it is legal to secretly snap photos of their underwear.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ll give my consent to be recorded on tape rather than have someone sneak a few photos up my skirt without me knowing. Of course the privacy of conversations is important, but how can the courts assume that undergarments aren’t private too?

“Upskirting” is not only a violation of privacy, but also demeaning to women. Upskirters (if that’s a word now) should be aware that if they get caught, they may not be charged with violating privacy, but will likely be slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit.

What goes up, must come down, just like the law on “Upskirting.”

Why journalists cover natural disasters


Earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis, hurricanes, oh my!

Natural disasters ravish through towns, destroy everything in their path, and leave people in devastating and life-threatening situations. Often, they happen with little or no warning and occur more frequently today, than they have in the past. When they do occur, most civilians seek shelter, run the opposite direction and pray they still have something for which to come back; yet such disasters are every journalists’ dream.

Maybe I shouldn’t include all journalists’ in this category and narrow it down to most photojournalists. And don’t get me wrong. The dream is not to experience the natural disaster itself, but rather, to capture the tragedy, damage and destruction after it has passed.

Since most natural disasters occur with little or no warning, one can’t just up and decide to go to Japan because a giant tsunami is occurring next Thursday (nor would one want to do so). Also, it is very difficult to be in the place of a natural disaster because they seem to happen on the opposite side of the world and can be hard to get to (the most recent natural disaster took place in the Philippines). And when they do happen, the last place ANYONE wants to be, is in the direct path of a tsunami (Could you imagine being on the beach and seeing a 50-foot wave coming ashore … if you did see that, you surely wouldn’t live to tell about it).

Most importantly natural disasters are dangerous. They cause destruction not only to physical structures but also to human beings. Many people endure injuries, go missing and are even killed. Natural disasters have a tendency of taking away and limiting resources as well. After a storm, resources become scarce; basic living essentials-food, water, and shelter-are hard to find and doctors are limited due to availability, limited medication and a continuous intake of injured people.

Though natural disasters are devastating and depressing, they produce jaw-dropping news stories and photographs. Stories capture the numerical data — the amount of damage, how many people were affected by it,-as well as continuous coverage of the recovery and reconstruction process. Photos, on the other hand, truly capture the impact and damage of the devastation in its greatest form; they allow you to place yourself in the midst of the destruction even if you’re a million miles away.

Think Hurricane Katrina (2005), the earthquake in Haiti (2010), the Japanese tsunami (2011), and, most recently typhoon Haiyan (2013) and the outbreak of tornadoes throughout the U.S. Midwest just last Sunday. I bet you remember more about the images you saw then the stories you read.

However, not all journalists are capable of experiencing the aftermath of a natural disaster. Natural disasters literally, physically, and emotionally destroy people. Journalists and photographers are faced with emotional turmoil, come across screaming children separated from their parents, witness people half-alive with missing limbs and walk around an endless number of dead bodies. Once someone experiences such devastating circumstances, they are changed forever. It takes a tough stomach and some serious perspective in order to cover such tragedies.

For those of us that do have the stomach (or at least think we do) to experience trauma, natural disasters are a chance to truly tell the story of hardship and devastation. Some of the best photographs have been those of war and natural disaster. With natural disaster comes the opportunity for the production of amazing, yet shocking, documentary photographic work.

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Journalism’s bad reputation . . .


The dreaded news reporter is disliked by politicians, public figures and celebrities. However, a reporter is not doing his or her job correctly if he or she does not expose wrongful doings or any newsworthy items.

Being disliked is simply the price to pay for being a good reporter.

Thankfully, reporters are here to expose wayward public officials such as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and the drug incident.

However, there are instances where reporters cross the line.

The incidents that forced celebrities like Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry to petition for more privacy rights are the result of reporters crossing the line, for example.

Jennifer Garner said in an E! Interview that she did not move to Hollywood so her children could be yelled at by photographers.

Another example involves Duchess Kate Middleton, who was photographed topless in her own backyard and had the image broadcast. It is another moment when reporters have crossed the line.

The pressure to find newsworthy stories may lead reporters to cross the line in these instances, making their stories unethical.

All in all, as long as the reporters do not invade the privacy of public figures, by snooping and investigating public figures, they are just doing their job.

Photojournalism’s future uncertain


Cameras are everywhere.

They fit in our pockets, they’re installed in our computers and even attached to our phones. What was once an expensive hobby has now become an affordable necessity. Because of the affordability and the availability, everyone who owns a camera considers themselves a photographer.

A professional photographer is someone who has spent his or her entire career as a photographer and has earned a living by taking pictures. A freelance photographer is a person who sells services (in this case images) to employers without a long-term commitment to them. An amateur photographer is a person who engages in photography as a hobby versus as a profession. In other words, they take pictures for fun.

A photojournalist can be defined as someone who communicates news through photographs. Think National Geographic. Until recently, a photojournalist was a full-time, paid position involving being sent out on assignment to cover a story similar to a reporter in  broadcast.

Now-a-days though, many magazines and newspapers have laid off their photography departments and switched from using full-time salaried employees to using freelance and amateur photographers instead.

So what does this mean for the future of photojournalism?

Well, in order to have a future it must have a present. The day “digital” became useable and affordable marked the death of photojournalism as we know it. Why pay an employee to rush over to the scene of investigation when an amateur is already on site? Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to pay the amateur for the use of the images than the salary of the professional?

Photographers, like myself, who are looking to start a career in photography / photojournalism, see this as a terrible consequence of the digital age and social media.

However, others see this as liberating and evolutionary. They see the amateur photographer as liberating the professional from the role of documenting mundane, ordinary, and unexciting newsworthy events, thus allowing the professional to reiterate the true meaning behind being a photojournalist — to document and tell stories.

It is not the professional photojournalist who has died out, only the means of how they get their stories and where they publish them. Instead of reaching out to a magazine or newspaper for work, the professional photojournalist should instead become a freelance photographer and invest in a self-financed story that has not been covered in mainstream media. Then he or she can publish the work via social media outlets with the possibility of publication at a later date. Because mainstream media outlets chase provocative and sensational stories in order to drive in readership, the quality of the work has taken a backseat thus forcing professional photojournalists to self-publish.

The professional photojournalist should not cringe at the amateur photographer but should instead thank them for picking up tedious, unimportant news stories and allowing the professionals to instead, return to the art of their profession. The art of photojournalism is to document and tell stories, often hidden stories, ones mainstream media outlets tend to ignore.

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