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Category Archives: Rants and Rambles

You’ll be in good company …


Ahh, it must be a Monday, because someone is writing about the Death of Photojournalism. It seemed for a few years that this headline popped up in the trade and mass market magazines about every six months. Now, it’s about every seven days.

Is my beloved photojournalism in trouble? Yes. Is it dead? No. Dying? Maybe – but it is eminently salvageable.


Michael Jackson’s funeral doesn’t matter. Four hundred pictures from the crisis du jour in some obscure country don’t matter.

What’s happening in your community matters. Don’t deceive yourself into believing you need to fly off to Obscuristan to sate your visual desires or, worse, further your career. There are stories right where you live that are in need of being told. Right now.

Go tell them.

I love audio slide shows. They are wonderful journalistic creations, able to mix the depth of still images with the power of a subject’s voice. I teach all my students how to do them – and they do them well.

The wire services have started to push them out, as well, which is fantastic. There are so many stories that can be told so well this way.
But … and you knew there was a but … not all of them succeed. It is not enough to just do one anymore because they are easy to build with programs like SoundSlides. They have to be crafted, they have to be shot for this reason and they need to have a story.
Take, for instance, Brian Synder’s foreclosure auction piece on the Reuters site. Snyder, who I’ve known for 15 years, is an amazing photographer – and the images here prove that. Good variety, strong technical skills and great moments.
But the audio – of one auction, start to finish – doesn’t tell us a story and it doesn’t match with the photos very well. During our workshop last week, one of our editors was showing me a few audio slide shows his staff had done. Thirty seconds into one of them – one which was beautifully shot – I stopped the player and said I couldn’t watch anymore. There was no connection between the photos and the audio. There was no sense of synchronization, there were really good photos AND really good audio, but they weren’t working together. The timing of the transitions didn’t make any sense. Even the types of transitions didn’t make any sense.
It’s time we stop playing with audio slide shows and start telling stories with them. It’s not enough to say, “Gee whiz, that’s cool!” when one finishes watching. You need to have a deeper understanding of the story.
And I feel the same way about video … when did we decide to abdicate storytelling and just play with technology?

File this under ego … today marks the second anniversary of the UGA PJ blog. While there was one experimental post in February, on March 5, 2007, the first two real posts went online – a look at the Faces of Rochester and another on low angle sports photography.

There won’t be a cake, but a simple nod to surviving for two years would be appropriate.

It is a Big Day here in America. Many of my students are fanning out across Georgia and South Carolina as they work on election day projects. We’ll be posting stories on The Grady Journal later today, as well as seeing their work on the Greenville (S.C.) News site. 

But before they dash off, I hope they acted as citizens first, then students, then journalists.

Picked up from Steve Yelvington’s blog

Yep, a lawyer is suing because the paper announced cuts after he paid his subscription

So, instead of being able to put money into staff or resources, they now have to spend it fighting off a frivolous lawsuit. But, the lawyer says he could have cancelled his subscription, but “filed the suit to make a point.”
Proving, again, that in the legal system, the lawyers always win.

Not as blatant as the Iranian missile mess, but maybe as sensational as some of Weegee’s work … further research has shown that the image of a baby with two legs casts on may not be what it originally was reported

I could launch into a bit about not knowing the sources of your information because of the automation of the news-gathering process, but most of you have heard this before …

I am all for news organizations finding a way to stay financially viable. Mostly, I believe if they can remain relevant to their readers, they’ll make it. (I know, overly simplistic, but that’s the core for me – stay relevant.)

While poking around today, I saw an extra little icon at the end of a couple of story headlines. I was used to seeing the video icon, telling me this was a video story instead of a text one. But the new icon looked like, well … a t-shirt.

And it was.

Next to the following stories, you could click on a link and order a t-shirt with the headline printed on it:

We wonder why our readers don’t turn to us? Maybe it’s because we’ve given up hope on being news sites and are now entertainizing everything, trying to make it palatable.

I thought the “spotted” idea was bad … now this.

There should be a rant right here about how JOURNALISTS need to take their news product back. How we need to fix this before a bunch of business-school drop-outs try to entertainize all that we do in a search for unrealistic profit margins, but if you’re reading this, you’ve probably got your own rant going.

This will only be filed under my “Rants and Rambles” category, because that’s all it is.

A student of mine, while working on a project for his history class, took some photos of a chicken processing plant. He stood on the side of the road, took photos of what was plainly visible … and was then questioned by not just a local sheriff’s deputy but by the FBI, as well.

Timing is everything – in his class this week, we’re talking about ethics, copyright and the law.