Earlier this month our photography department staffers learned we aren’t who we thought we were, or more to the point, we’re not what we used to be.
The term “Photojournalist” is passé; we are “Visual Journalists.” In a meeting with our top editors it was made official, complete with updated job descriptions, part of which reads:
“Work for print and interactive media simultaneously, consistently working assignments from angles that benefit both platforms.”
This is not a bad thing. Audio lets people tell their own stories while reporters can only interpret.
Up until the past few years there were two kinds of news photographers: those who shot stills and those who shot video. I would suggest most of us chose our respective careers based on our strengths and passion for the medium.
But the line between the two has nearly disappeared as news platforms shift to the internet, some exclusively. TV stations have still images on their web pages and newspapers have audio slide shows and video.
At first it seemed odd to see KFDI radio station reporter John Wright at a spot news event packing a point ‘n shoot camera, but not any more. NPR has a very popular Daily Picture Show on its website.
Although reluctant at first, I am growing to embrace the expansion of my duties as a news guy. It’s a challenging new learning curve, that’s for sure.
Rather than publishing individual or clusters of images and captions on a page that is news today and wrapping fish tomorrow, we have multiple tools at our disposal to tell a story in the best way possible, and those stories can be accessed by readers on a global scale — weeks later.
If video is necessary to tell the story better, then video it shall be. I personally believe still images pack a better punch, but now I’ve got a choice.
That said, I have yet to see a video I can stick on my refrigerator.