You are currently browsing the archives for the Current Affairs category.

December 12th, 2011

POYi Calling for Entries

POYi has put out a call for entries for its 69th annual photojournalism competition. Online registration and entry will be open through January 12, 2012, contest organizers say.

POYi has added a new Sports Division, which will include new categories for Sports Photographer of the Year, as well as categories for Sports Multimedia and Sports Editing.

This year’s competition will include two special categories to recognize the work of photographers who documented the Arab Uprisings and the Japan Earthquake.

The Missouri School of Journalism will host the judging in a public forum from February 8 to February 28.

For more information about POYi and details about the competitions see http://poyi.org/.

December 5th, 2011

Photog Released on Bail After Rough Arrest at Occupy L.A.

A man arrested while photographing the police raid to shut down the Occupy L.A. encampment last Wednesday was finally released on $10,000 bail late Friday, according to press reports. Tyson Heder was charged with assault and battery on a police office and resisting arrest.

Heder, who has worked in Hollywood as a film editor and shoots concert videos for rock bands, was among a number of freelancers at the scene of the Occupy raid working without press credentials. The Los Angeles police issued a limited number of credentials, and warned those without credentials they would be subject to arrest.

This video released by CBS shows Heder angrily confronting police officers after one of them pushed him backwards down a set of stairs. “What’s your name?” he demanded several times of the officer who pushed him, before at least two officers tackled him. Several others piled on, and it took them more than two minutes to handcuff him and haul him away.

It isn’t clear from the footage what is happening in the middle of the scrum during Heder’s arrest. At one point, Heder can be heard saying, “You are beating me.” A police officer at the scene says, “Stop resisting the officers.” Heder can also be heard saying “I’m not doing anything” several times.

After his release on bail, Heder uploaded a self-portrait on Facebook showing a black eye. He said “I look like hell and my body hurts pretty much from head to toe.”

Heder thanked his family and friends for bailing him out, and said, “I look forward to proving the charges against me to be completely and thoroughly fraudulent.”

(Watch the video, and tell us what you think of the actions of both Heder and the police officers.)

November 16th, 2011

Photogs Arrested in Raid on Occupy Protest at Zuccotti Park

Two photographers were among several journalists arrested in the vicinity of Zuccotti Park, where New York police cleared out Occupy Wall Street protesters early yesterday morning.

Other journalists reported they were roughed up by police and kept at a distance, while TV news helicopters were prevented from covering the police raid on the park from the air.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference on Tuesday morning that journalists were being prevented from covering the raid “to protect members of the press,” according to a Huffington Post report.

But because journalists were not asking for protection, and were not being attacked by the protesters, many viewed the police action against them as a forced media blackout, intended to prevent coverage that might cast the police in a bad light or generate sympathy for the protesters.

The photographers arrested yesterday included Associated Press photographer Seth Wenig and Paul Lomax of DNAInfo.com, a local news site for Manhattan. Both were arrested shortly after noon near Duarte Square, where some Occupy Wall Street protesters had gathered after the police raid on Zuccotti Park, according to a report from The Guardian newspaper.

DNAInfo reported that Lomax was released after about four hours, and all charges against him were dropped

Police raided Zuccotti Park before dawn on Tuesday, forcing protesters out of the encampment they have occupied for nearly two months. Police then cleared the park of tents, personal effects, and debris. Police said they arrested about 140 protesters in the park while they were clearing it out, and another 50 or 60 people nearby.

Yesterday afternoon, protesters won a court order that allows them to continue their protest in Zuccotti Park, but they will no longer be allowed to set up tents or lie down in the park.

November 8th, 2011

Video Shows Oakland Police Shooting Photographer

Yesterday we posted a story suggesting that the police are under pressure to respect constitutional rights, now that so many people are photographing their activities (especially at protests.)

But along comes this video of an Oakland policeman shooting the photographer for no obvious reason. The photographer, identified by the San Jose Mercury News as Oakland resident Scott Campbell, was filming the line of riot police last Thursday from a distance of about 50 feet. The police had moved in after Occupy Oakland protesters had defaced a nearby building, but the scene photographed by Campbell appears mostly calm.

As Campbell walked parallel to the line of police, the camera’s audio recorder picks up his voice asking, “Is this OK?” After about 30 seconds, one of the police fires a non-lethal projectile at Campbell, hitting him. As he falls, he cries out in pain and then says, “He shot me!” before the video cuts off.

The video, posted on YouTube and the tech site boingboing.net, prompted a news report in today’s San Jose Mercury News.

Campbell explained to the San Jose Mercury News that he asked “Is this OK?” because police had told him he was too close, so he had stepped back five or 10 feet. After he stepped back, he started filming.

Campbell was struck in the upper right thigh by the projectile. He told the San Jose Mercury News, “Since then what I’m really wondering is what was going through that person’ s head that made him think it was OK to shoot another person with a less-than-lethal weapon for doing absolutely nothing wrong.”

The newspaper quotes a criminal justice expert saying, “Unless there’s a threat that you can’t see in the video, that just looks like absolute punishment, which is the worst type of excessive force.”

The Mercury News said police and city officials did not respond immediately to emails seeking comment.

Related story: Pictures of Photog’s Arrest Force Police Accountability

November 1st, 2011

Banned for 20 Years, Photographer Returns to Tunisia

© Le Monde/photos © Karim Ben Khelifa

As a kid growing up in Belgium, photographer Karim Ben Khelifa spent all his school vacations in Tunisia, visiting his aunts, uncles and cousins, enjoying family gatherings in his grandparents’ home, going to the beach. But in the last 20 years, he had been unable to return. Family members in Tunisia warned him that his work covering Islamic insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan would make him the target of the government of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, described as a “predator of press freedom” by Reporters without Borders. Because Ben Khelifa, 39, holds a Tunisian as well as a Belgian passport, the government of Tunisia could jail him with impunity.

After the ouster of Ben Ali in January inspired demonstrations across the Middle East, Ben Khelifa says,  “I managed to go to Yemen and Libya on assignment for Newsweek, Le Monde and Stern,” he says, but his dream was to return to Tunisia. “This is my country. It’s the one I want to work in more than any other.” In September, at the Visa Pour L’Image festival in Perpignan, he convinced editors at Le Monde to send him to Tunisia during the run-up to the country’s elections on October 23.  But he asked for a deal:  “If you send me back, I don’t want to cover any news. The work is about me going back to my roots after 20 years. They decided to take a different angle on the story.”

© Le Monde/photos © Karim Ben Khelifa

(more…)

October 19th, 2011

Leica Sells 44% Stake to Private Equity Firm Blackstone

US-based private equity firm The Blackstone Group has reached an agreement to buy 44 percent of Leica Camera AG in a deal to be completed by the end of the year, Blackstone and ACM Projektentwicklung GmbH, Leica’s parent company, announced today.

Blackrock investment funds will acquire the stake through a holding company, the announcement said.

In a statement, Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, the chairman of Leica’s supervisory board, called Blackstone “an experienced and internationally established strategic partner.” The deal, which is likely to be completed by the end of the year pending approval from government regulators, will help fund Leica’s “growth plans into new markets such as Asia, South America and the Middle East,” he added. Leica is coming off a 2010/2011 fiscal year when they turned record profits, the company reports.

Axel Herberg, Blackstone senior managing director, also emphasized a focus on emerging markets in his statement. “We are very excited about supporting Leica to secure long-term commercial relationships, specifically in emerging markets, and help strengthen the company¹s operational and retailing capabilities globally,” he said.

September 14th, 2011

PDN Video Pick: Fighting Malnutrition, at Home and Abroad


Jessica Dimmock and Antonin Kratochvil, photojournalists with the VII Photo Agency, created the video “Double Standard” as part of Starved for Attention, the multimedia campaign about malnutrition created by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The video highlights the disparity between the US government’s approach to preventing malnutrition at home and the food aid it ships to developing countries.

Dimmock interviewed mothers in Johnstown, PA, who use Women and Infant Children (WIC) vouchers– not without difficulties– to purchase nutritious food for their growing children. In Uganda,  Kratochvil interviewed a doctor who has treated infants dying of diarrhea, pneumonia and other diseases resulting from malnutrition. She talks about the nutritional deficiencies of the corn-and-soy cereal that the US ships –at great cost– as part of its humanitarian food aid. Kratochvil also shows in expressive black-and-white photos the corn farms in the American heartland where the cereal product originates.

“Double Standard” is one of several videos being shown in a new public exhibition that Doctors Without Borders is staging in four US cities. Visitors can tour an MSF field hospital and get information about an MSF petition which urges donor nations to ensure their food aid meets certain nutritional standards. The videos can also be viewed on the Starved for Attention web site and here.

Related story:
Interactive Photo Display on Malnutrition: Coming to a City Near You

September 13th, 2011

Interactive Photo Display on Malnutrition: Coming to a City Near You

Photo by Amber Terranova/PDN

Commuters and shoppers passing through New York’s Union Square on Tuesday were presented with information on the fight against malnutrition in an unusual way: At an outdoor exhibit of photographs displayed around a field hospital set up by Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).  The photos, as wells as videos shown on monitors inside the hospital tents, were created by photographers with VII Photo Agency as part of Starved for Attention, the global multimedia and online campaign created in association with MSF.

MSF doctors and nurses gave tours of the hospital and describe their work in the field; VII photographers Jessica Dimmock and Ron Haviv were on hand to answer questions about their photo projects.   Union Square was the first stop on an exhibition tour that includes Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington.

None of the photos in the exhibit, taken in Burkina Faso, India, Bangladesh, Congo and elsewhere, show the now familiar images of starving children with bloated bellies, Haviv notes.
(more…)

September 7th, 2011

Photog’s Climate Change Images On Display at Reagan National Airport

Mendenhall Glacier Then and Now

This billboard featuring a diptych from Gary Braasch's project showing climate change is on display at Reagan National Airport for the next year.

Travelers passing through Washington D.C.’s Reagan National Airport over the next year will be confronted with photographic evidence of climate change, thanks to the work of photographer Gary Braasch. A backlit billboard showing the retreat of Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier, one of the country’s largest glaciers, was installed at the airport on August 30th.

The diptych shows an archival 1894 photograph of the glacier next to Braasch’s 2008 image, which was made from approximately the same spot as the first. The photographs, part of a “before and after” project by Braasch, for which he has re-photographed archival images to show how the landscape has changed, show the severity of the glacier’s retreat over the past century.

Sponsored by The Del Mar Global Trust and World View of Global Warming, the billboard is part of This Is Climate Change, a campaign to “educate and increase awareness of climate change among the general public.”

Further public displays are in the works.

More at thisisclimatechange.org.

Related: Consequences of Climate Change, PDN Photo of the Day

August 25th, 2011

Photojournalists Assaulted in Kashmir by Indian Forces

Zuma Press photographer Narcisco Contreras of Mexico and freelance photographer Showkat Shafi of India were beaten by police and government forces, then arrested while covering a violent street protest in Srinigar, Kashmir on August 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports.

Shafi, who has shot for Al Jazeera online and Reuters, reported that he and Contreras were covering a clash between youth protesting Indian rule in the disputed region of Kashmir when police and soldiers charged the crowd, beating protesters and the photographers.  “We were covering the protests, standing on the side of the demonstrators, when the police charged the protesters … we were verbally abused and beaten with bamboo sticks and batons,” he told Al Jazeera.

Contreras said he tried to take shelter in a tailor’s shop. “The soldiers descended there and started beating everyone, including me.”

The photographers were then taken to a police station, along with protesters; according to the photographers and eyewitnesses, they were held for hours. The two have reported that they were beaten while in police custody. Contreras told Al Jazeera, “I repeatedly told them I’m a foreign journalist, but they continued beating me as if I was some criminal,” he said.  A police officer told Al Jazeera that the two photographers were released after they showed their press credentials, and denied that they were beaten.

Responding to reports that the photographers had been beaten, Farooq Khan, president of the Kashmir Press Photographers Association, told Al Jazeera, “Let’s remember that incidents like these have become a routine here.”