Photojournalism’s uncertain future

Wow. What a difference a year makes. (A year! How did I get that far behind posting?)

I do have a lot on my mind following the 2016 presidential election, transition and early days of the current administration with respect to photography and photojournalists. We’ll start here though with some broader thoughts.

Don Winslow was the editor of the National Press Photographers Association’s publication, News Photographer, for many years. He’s recently moved to a new position. An interview with him was featured in the New York Times Lens blog on Feb. 15, 2017.

I won’t rehash the whole thing.

The future of photojournalism has been a persistent question for decades. As a teacher of photojournalism history, I can show my students examples of speculation about the health of the profession dating back to the 1970s. I’m sure there have been additional worries even earlier. Every time a significant technology change comes along, speculation about its meaning/relevance to photojournalism isn’t far behind.

This era is a little different though. It’s not just the tools that are changing, it’s the channels. It’s the organizations and owners. It’s the audience. And sometimes it’s the photographers. By agreeing to low rates and contracts that diminish rights, photographers haven’t helped maintain an impression of quality in the information field. It’s made it easier for editors/directors to look for the cheapest way out instead of the best way out. It’s only a mild finger wag. It’s tough to hold out for the profession when the wolf is at the door with his paw out.

So here we are. Winslow has some good thoughts on how we got here and what it means for photographers. Maybe we can figure out where to go from here.

It’s important to read.

I’ll be back.

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