Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/05/09

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

Subject: Re: [Leica] Photojounalism lives
From: Eric Welch <>
Date: Sat, 09 May 1998 17:18:26 -0500

At 09:09 PM 5/9/98 +0200, you wrote:

>Given that the traditional magazines are in the control of the money hungry
>bean counters, but hasn't that always been the case?  More or less.  Isn't
>it more likely that bean counters are more likely to play safe and employ
>graduates from a PJ school with "documentation" rather than risk employing
>a "natural" like a traditional editor would have done.  

Dirck Halstead, a very well known photojournalist explained it much better
than I could. He has been there covering the White House and world events
for many years for Newsweek. If people are interested, I'll dig up his post
and put it here, or send it privately. It's very articulate, insightful and
really nails the journalism industry for why they were pro photography for
so  many years, but now no longer feel the need.

Anyway, the short version is this. They used photographs to justify having
so many color pages together. Now they can put color on every page, so they
are just going with shallow, illustrative photos rather than documentary
photography. Check it out. US News seems to be the only magazine outside of
National Geographic that still uses serious photojournalism on a regular
basis. Time and Newsweek don't much any more.

It's not good "economics" to commit to good photojournalism as opposed to
easy slick illustrative work. Environmental portraits and fancy
Photoshopped illustrations with wild color and shallow content.

Even newspapers are getting that way. Mine still has a strong commitment to
documentary photojournalism. But it's family owned, and they demand a good
return on investment, not an insane return that many of the chains do.
They're already obscenely rich. So they can "play" a bit with quality. For
which I'm thankful.

Newspapers are still in a better position than magazines. They don't have
to cover the world, just their little neck of the woods. So it's easier to
do more important work. And readers demand it too. I'm hoping the pendulum
will swing the other way some day, but I'm not too hopeful.

Like I said, Dirck can do it better.

>Do PJ schools in the desire for uniformity stifle individuality and hence
>produce bland copy for the magazines they work for.  Don't please

Depends. Some do and some don't. They all have more emphasis on the quality
stuff than most publications allow. But they leave it up to the journalists
who leave their portals to make intelligent articulate arguments for
quality journalism, and photojournalism, and to change the journalism
world. The old "stiffs" who have been in the business call 'em wet behind
the ears, and say they'll come to their senses some day. Because it's
easier to do the shallow work, and they are tired of fighting. 

>I don't understand why, in a world thirsty for news and news in pictures,
>photojournalism should be in decline.  I haven't expressed myself well at

Because the bean counters are convinced it's the smarmy type of photography
people want. It's cheaper, and if you can get people used to it, then they
won't complain that quality, expensive stuff, is gone.


Eric Welch
St. Joseph, MO

The young child is looking in the world to find himself -
reflected in a mirror with a thousand faces.

- -Maria Montessori