The rapid decline of the photojournalist


As time goes on, it is becoming evident that there is a decline in professional photojournalism. Even more recently, there has been a shift in the videographer field as well.

Because of technology and the rapid pace at which it is created, there are many more commonly named “citizen journalists.” These are people who capture newsworthy photos and/or videos on the street and send them to news organizations.

Another problem for photojournalists/videographers is that the people who are submitting images and videos don’t necessarily have the initiative to get paid. For any news company, this is a gold mine because, in contrast, a photojournalist would be paid for his or her services. So the potential of free services of these citizen journalists is highly desirable.

News organizations are not doing as well as they once did. Staffs are much smaller now and saving money is key for managers. Why hire a photojournalist when they can just get one of the reporters to take their own pictures or when they can get submissions from these citizen journalists?

This is a huge blow for someone like me because I am currently studying photojournalism. Recently, I discovered that my major has been taken out of my school and has been merged with the journalism major. This is so that writers and reporters will learn the craft as well. This drastic change is a reflection of how the business is changing and that the need for photojournalists is declining.

One of only things that can keep some of these citizen journalists from being too popular in the news industry is validity. How can a newspaper or news channel be completely certain that the submissions they are receiving are real? This is one of the reasons why I argue that there is still a need for photojournalists. I also argue that great feature photography is something that amateurs will never be able to recreate. A photojournalist is taught to have a certain eye for capturing images. It is a learned skill whereas citizen journalists may have just been at the right place at the right time.

Getting a job in the future is definitely going to be a challenge for people like me. The jobs in photojournalism may be dwindling but I feel that photojournalism will always be extremely important.

When does it go too far?


We are in a point in time where the distinction between too far and not far enough is dangerous.

As a news reporter, it’s tough to walk the line of right and wrong. One too many details and your morals and ethics will be questioned. Leave out too much and suddenly your journalistic integrity is being questioned. I’ve struggled at times with this when cutting details out of stories, not only to make the story shorter, but also to not cross the invisible, ethical line.

This type of dilemma applies to all types of media.

For instance, the most recent noticeable issue with going too far comes by way of television host Jimmy Kimmel. The late-night talk show host parodied a recent interview that hip-hop artist Kanye West gave the BBC, using a little kid to portray West drinking a milkshake and giving ludicrous answers.

Mr. West didn’t take the parody so lightly, responding to Kimmel on Twitter. He angrily tweeted that the interview he did was “the first piece of honest media in years.”

“You don’t have scumbags hopping over fences trying to take pictures of your daughter,” also directed at Kimmel. “You can’t put yourself in my shoes.”

Kanye hasn’t exactly given himself the benefit of the doubt as he’s been the epitome of controversy over the last few years. Even a couple of months ago, West was at the center of it all when he assaulted a paparazzi.

As biased as I may be as a Kanye West fan, sometimes the media just go over the border. It’s happened numerous times with West and it’s probably happening at the moment. He’s constantly swarmed by media members taking his picture or shooting video from point-blank range, asking questions about his personal life. Do those people think about what it would be like if they were in his position?

They probably don’t and Kimmel probably didn’t either when he flat out made fun of him. Kimmel doesn’t care because that’s who he is as a person. I wonder if journalists care about the lines they cross.

I know it goes into consideration for me. Whether it does for others is of interest to me.

The line between right and wrong


A few weeks ago, United States commemorated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Every year, the minds of the world remember that day as one of the most horrible tragedies that happened to this country.

The job of a journalist is to communicate accurately the major events that impact society on one way or another. No matter what is the story, a journalist must find the most effective and objective way to report it.

In an utopian world, people won’t have to deal with the sour moments of life. However, this is impossible and mankind must be prepared to face difficult moments.

Usually, in the moments of a collective tragedy two things can happen. A country breaks apart and doesn’t recover from it or people form an union to overcome the situation.

In the case of the 9/11, the whole country briefly shut down and the people formed a union to overcome the tragedy.

Because of this, journalists must be prepared to deal with tragedies and know how to transmit the real facts, without causing more tension in moments of panic. We saw the need for this again in Washington, D.C., and in Nairobi, Kenya, in recent days.

Media have such power that it can harm an individual or an entire society just by publishing the wrong picture.

In addition, information travels so fast that it seems a phenomenon of ubiquity.  Now information is everywhere.

This is a demonstration of the enormous responsibility that the news media carry on their shoulders.

In a world of diversity, the ethics have created a path that journalists can use to guide themselves in the decision of publishing graphic pictures or even strong language.

Each news organization has its own journalistic values and it will have different reasons to decide whether to publish a graphic picture or not. And the profession itself has set its standards through codes of professional standards and ethics.

The Miami Herald will have a different perspective on a graphic picture than the Sun Sentinel.

It is also important to evaluate the news value of a picture, because people depend on what journalist report and how they document reality.

Journalists are also human beings and they act differently under varying influences. However, when it comes the time to decide whether to publish a picture of a person, for example, falling from the World Trade Center, the decision must be based on the person’s own guidelines as well as our professional values and the decision should be free from outside influences.

In contrast, it could be argued that a strong graphic picture might attract a great quantity of viewers. However, ethically speaking, journalists should minimize harm at all cost.

Some of the things that get published can have a negative effect on some individuals. People can be harmed by what they see, even more when they deal with death, pain and traumas.

This is an endless topic. Communication is a human act, and therefore it cannot admit perfection. This means that the most thoughtful story will be submitted under the judgment of the masses. For obvious reasons, the judgment can’t be unanimous.

Some people will acclaim a publication, and there will be others who will critically disapprove the same exact publication.

Only one thing is for sure, you can’t please everyone. Act responsibly and thoughtfully.