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February 5th, 2014

Pulitzer Center Releases Annual Report Highlighting Photography

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, which provides funding to journalists and news organizations, allowing them to carry out independent, in-depth reporting, released its 2013 annual report today. Several projects involving photographers were among those highlighted in the report, providing a good overview of the types of work the Center is funding, and the types of projects the media is willing to publish, given the means.

They included:

Sea Change, the multimedia story on ocean acidification created by The Seattle Times and staff photographer Steve Ringman (our story about the creation of Sea Change is here.)

A series of photo stories and reports on Japan’s collapsing social safety net, including images by Shiho Fukada. (Our story on Fukada’s project on Japan’s “disposable workers” is here.)

An issue of Poetry magazine dedicated to Afghan landau poems and women’s rights, with photographs by Seamus Murphy. (For more on Murphy’s coverage of Afghanistan, beginning in 1994, see our story on his multimedia project, “Afghanistan: A Darkness Visible.”)

Documentary photographer Larry Price’s work on child labor in Philippine gold mines.

Reporting on gun violence in Chicago featuring photography by Carlos Javier Ortiz. (Our story about Ortiz’s long-term project, “Too Young to Die,” is here.)

And reporting on the perpetual conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo that includes work by photographer and filmmaker Fiona Lloyd-Davies.

Related Article: Getting Funding from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting (available to subscribers with login).

January 23rd, 2014

HuffPost Ignoring PhotoJ Credits For Images of Kiev Clashes

Yesterday Huffington Post UK published “29 Incredible Pictures Of Kiev Transformed Into A Warzone,” but didn’t bother to caption or credit the images to the photojournalists who are risking personal harm to create them.

(Oddly, another gallery published by the Huffington Post empire using some of the same images did include proper credits and captions.)

Several news outlets are carrying wire images of clashes in Kiev between protestors and police. Among the photographers whose images are featuring prominently on the websites and front pages of major news media are Sergei Grits and Efrem Lukatsky, who are covering the protests for AP; Valentyn Ogirenko, Vasily Fedosenko and Gleb Garanich for Reuters; and Sergei Supinsky, Anatolii Boiko, Anatoliy Stepanov and Vasily Maximov for AFP/Getty.

Show some respect, HuffPost UK, while you count your clicks.

December 13th, 2013

White House Press Secretary to Photographers: We Respect You, But We Don’t Need You

In an exchange yesterday with reporters over why press pool photographers were kept away from President Barack Obama on his trip to Nelson Mandela’s funeral last week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney ducked, dodged–and said times have changed.

“This is part of a bigger transformation that’s happening out there that’s driven by the ability of everyone to post anything on the Internet free of charge so that you don’t have to buy that newspaper or subscribe to that wire service to see that photograph.”

In other words, the White House doesn’t need press photographers anymore, and neither does the public, now that the White House can distribute its own pictures of the president online.

The exchange began when a reporter asked why White House photographer Pete Souza was allowed on the speaker’s platform when President Obama spoke at  Mandela’s funeral, but press pool photographers were not allowed. Reporters also pressed Carney hard on why press pool photographers were not permitted to photograph the President and First Lady, along with former President George Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, on the flights to and from the funeral in South Africa.

The White House released its own photos, shot by Souza, from the flight.

Carney took the questions with a preamble of praise to photographers. “I have huge admiration for that service to the free flow of information and the unbelievable bravery that cameramen and photographers display, especially overseas in hard areas, in dangerous areas, like Afghanistan, like Syria and elsewhere,” he said.

He added later on after reporters kept pressing the issue, “From the President on down–and I mean that–there is absolute agreement that there’s no substitute for a free and independent press reporting on a presidency or the White House, on Congress, on the government. It’s essential. Essential. And that includes photography.”

The White House got as much access as it could for press pool photographers on the speaker’s platform at the funeral, Carney said. When pressed about the lack of access on the flight, which reporters pointed out was 20 hours each way, Carney said, “For a lot of those hours, the President, the former President, the First Lady and the former First Lady were asleep. So we probably weren’t going to bring in a still pool for that. Or they were having dinner or something like that. But look, I think I just made clear that I want to work on this issue.”

How committed he is to “work on this issue” is unclear. Reporters pressed repeatedly for details, and Carney offered none, other than to say his office has met with representatives of the White House Correspondents. And he added, “I can promise you that the outcome of that will not be complete satisfaction” because of inherent tensions between all administrations and the press over access.

Last month, Carney rejected a request from 38 news organization for a meeting to discuss their complaint about a lack of access for press pool photographers to the Oval Office. In doing so, he told them the public interest was served well enough by the stream of photos the White House was releasing on social media.

The media has dismissed those photos, by Souza and other White House photographers, as “visual press releases.” In an op-ed piece published in The New York Times yesterday, Associated Press Director of Photography Santiago Lyon labeled the White House handout photos as “propaganda.”

Related:
AP Photo Chief Appeals to Public About White House Access. Will It Help?
Media Protests White House Limits on Photographers

December 9th, 2013

Photogs Richard Mosse and Zanele Muholi Named Top “Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy

Two photographers, Richard Mosse and Zanele Muholi, made Foreign Policy (FP) magazine’s list of “The Leading Global Thinkers of 2013.” The list of 100 people Foreign Policy chose to single out in its hefty digital feature includes Edward Snowden, John Kerry, Elon Musk, The Pope, Rand Paul, scientists, innovators, politicians and artists.

FP cited Mosse for “seeing war through a new lens.” His pink-hued images of military and militia in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, created using now-discontinued Kodak Aerochrome film developed for the U.S. Military, have captivated audiences through their unusually esthetic interpretation of a conflict-ridden landscape and population. FP notes that Mosse’s film, “The Enclave,” “stole the show” at the 2103 Venice Biennale.

Mosse’s works “are allowing viewers to see conflict in a way they never imagined they could,” FP writes.

Zanele Muholi, a South African artist, has documented the black LGBT community in her country through striking black-and-white portraits. FP singles Muholi out “for photographing hidden lives,” and notes that her work has been widely published and exhibited, bringing much-needed awareness to the gulf between the legal rights of LGBT South Africans and their actual treatment in their communities.

FP divided their list of Global Thinkers into groups that included “Artists,” “Advocates,” “Challengers” and “Decision-Makers” among others. Mosse and Muholi are considered “Chroniclers,” people who, FP says, “[show] us novel ways of understanding the world and our place in it.”

Related: Theft of South African Photog’s Work May Be Attempt to Silence Her
Field Studies: Exploring the Complexities of War-Torn Congo

November 21st, 2013

Media Protest White House Limits on Photographers

Visual press release? President Obama and Vice President Biden met with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in the Oval Office, July 30, 2013. Media organizations say their photographers were excluded on the grounds that it was a "private meeting." The White House issued this photo by staff photographer Chuck Kennedy afterwards.

“Visual press release”? President Obama and Vice President Biden met with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in the Oval Office, July 30, 2013. Media organizations say photojournalists were barred because the administration declared it a “private” meeting.  The White House issued this photo by staff photographer Chuck Kennedy afterwards via Flickr.com.

More than three dozen news organizations and journalists’ trade associations have submitted a joint letter of protest to the Obama administration, charging it with denying the news media the right to photograph and videotape President Obama while he is performing his official duties.

“We write to protest the limits on access currently barring photographers who cover the White House,” the letter to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney began. “We hope this letter will serve as the first step in removing these restrictions and, therefore, we also request a meeting with you to discuss this critical issue further.”

To get Carney’s attention, the letter includes an indirect threat of legal action on First Amendment grounds. It says the restrictions on photographers “raise constitutional concerns,” and goes on to cite a 1980 Supreme Court ruling that protects the First Amendment right of the press to access information about the operation of government.

The letter was delivered to Carney today. It was signed by all major TV news networks, wire services, major newspapers, as well as American Society of Media Photographers, National Press Photographers Association, and other organizations.

“As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government,” the letter says.

It accuses the administration of excluding photographers by labeling the President’s meetings as “private events.” The letter lists 8 examples of meetings that amounted to “governmental activity of undisputed and wide public interest,” including meetings between the President and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, and other officials, dignitaries, and activists.

After all but one of the meetings, the White House issued official White House photos of the meetings, according to the letter.   “You are, in effect, replacing independent photojournalism with visual press releases,” news organizations complained to Carney in the protest letter.

The letter says that previous administrations were more transparent, and adds, “[T]he restrictions imposed by your office on photographers undercut the President’s stated desire to continue and broaden that tradition.”

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the letter.

The Obama administration has been subject to past criticism for its handling of the press.

For instance, the Committee to Protect Journalists says in a recent report, “Despite President Barack Obama¹s repeated promise that his administration would be the most open and transparent in American history, reporters and government transparency advocates said they are disappointed by its performance in improving access to the information they need.

“”This is the most closed, control freak administration I¹ve ever covered,’ said David E. Sanger, veteran chief Washington correspondent of The New York Times.”

The Times was one of the 38 organizations that signed today’s letter of complaint to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

November 12th, 2013

Newspaper Job Cuts Hit Photographers Hardest, Pew Research Says

In an article published yesterday by the Pew Research Center, writer Monica Anderson noted that photographers and other visual journalists have borne the brunt of newspaper layoffs from 2000-2012.

Basing her findings on newsroom census data released by the American Society of News Editors, Anderson wrote that “The ranks of photographers, artists and videographers have been trimmed by nearly half (43%)—from 6,171 in 2000 to 3,493 in 2012.” By comparison, the number of full-time writers and reporters fell only 32%, and editor and producer jobs by only 27%.

Related: Chicago Sun-Times Eliminates Photo Staff

Via Poynter

October 11th, 2013

Nick Brandt’s Photographs Go Viral, But Media and the Internet Miss the Point

We recently interviewed Nick Brandt about his new book of fine-art photographs from East Africa, and how his photographic work led to the creation of Big Life, his foundation, which protects elephants and other wildlife from poachers across a two million acre swath of land in the Amboseli ecosystem.

Brandt’s photographs and commitment to conservation speak for themselves. In the past week his work has appeared on websites like Huffington Post, ABC News, Grist, Gizmodo, The Verge and several others.

Yet the majority of the coverage of Brandt’s new work hasn’t focused on the animals killed by poachers; instead writers and editors have keyed on the images in his book showing birds and bats that died in—and were calcified by—a caustic lake in Tanzania. While those images of birds that look strangely alive in death have generated fascination and thousands of comments across various sites, Brandt’s conservation message of has gone largely unremarked both by the media outlets and their audiences.

“Media only wanted to cover the calcifieds, not anything related to conservation.” Brandt told PDN via email. “I tried to persuade some to expand their coverage from just the calcifieds, but in all but two instances failed—the calcifieds were the story du jour. Elephants and lions being annihilated across Africa seemed to be met with a cyber-‘whatever’ on the whole.” (more…)

October 4th, 2013

If We Spend $25K On A Photo Essay, Readers Should Pay to See It, Says Harper’s Publisher

Harper’s publisher John R. MacArthur wrote a letter for the October issue of the magazine in which he took a strong stand against publishing free writing and photography on the web. He tackles the question of how journalism should be funded and distributed today, arguing that publishers, readers and journalists should reject the idea that good journalism should be given away for free in hopes of gaining page views. When he talks about good journalism, he includes good photography. (We’ve noted previously that Harper’s has become a great publisher of photography, winning National Magazine awards and other accolades.)

MacArthur says he has been distressed in recent years as publishers give away the work done by journalists and editors “in the quest for more advertising. Instead of honoring the reader, writer, and editor, this new approach to the publishing business instead insulted them,” MacArthur writes, “both by devaluing their work and by feeding it—with little or no remuneration—to search engines, which in turn feed information to advertising agencies (and, as it turns out, the government.)”

MacArthur says advocates of free content are peddling “nonsense.” “Who needs fact-checkers when we have crowdsourcing to correct the record? Why doesn’t Harper’s give away a particularly good investigative piece… so more people will read it?”

He also has the temerity to suggest that publishers, journalists and editors “have to earn a living.” He singles out a recent photo essay by an anonymous photographer, who risked arrest and imprisonment to report from inside Iran. The assignment cost the magazine $25,000, MacArthur says. “Shouldn’t Anonymous be paid for this courage and skill?” MacArthur asks. “Shouldn’t Harper’s be compensated for sending Anonymous into the field?”

“It is unreasonable to expect that an advertiser would directly sponsor such daring photography,” MacArthur writes. “It is wishful thinking to believe that parasitic Google, now bloated with billions of dollars’ worth of what I consider pirated property, will ever willingly pay Harper’s, or Anonymous, anything at all for the right to distribute Anonymous’s pictures…”

MacArthur will hopefully forgive us for quoting him at length on our blog, which is not behind a paywall. Those who want to read the rest of his statement, and see Michael Christopher Brown‘s fantastic photographs from Libya, or Misty Keasler‘s touching images accompanying a report about a controversial Montana orphanage for Russian children, will have to pick up the magazine on the newsstand, or subscribe for $20, about twice what I will probably spend on lunch today.

September 12th, 2013

Are Women Photographers Being Discriminated Against in the Editorial Market?

A week ago editorial photographer and artist Daniel Shea published a post on his Tumblr, titled “On Sexism in Editorial Photography,” hoping it would “initiate a broader conversation.” Shea began the post with the disclaimer that he is “a white, cis male photographer” who didn’t claim to speak for anyone but himself, before pointing out that, to him, “It would seem that the biggest magazines with the most hiring power hire mostly male photographers.”

The post has generated nearly 550 likes and reblogs on Tumblr, as well as a number of comments.

Without naming names, Shea cites informal conversations with photo editors who offered some interesting explanations as to why a gender imbalance might exist. Some editors said they didn’t know women photographers whose esthetic fit with their magazines. “To further complicate this issue,” Shea continues, “one editor mentioned that most media, art and literature is made to fit a masculine perspective, and perhaps that’s why men are more ‘apt’ at photographing that content.”

Shea notes also that most photo editors are women; one editor floated the idea that women are “natural nurturers” of men. Shea says he’s “skeptical” of that explanation. Instead, he suggests other reasons. One is that sexism in editorial photography is a microcosm. “Larger systems of oppression, like sexism and misogyny, replicate themselves very effectively on smaller scales,” Shea wrote. (more…)

September 5th, 2013

Facebook Makes Alarming Changes to Terms, ASMP Breaks Down the Changes

Facebook has altered their terms of service to make it possible for companies that pay the social media network to utilize Facebook users’ content and likeness without compensation or permission. The changes are sure to alienate Facebook’s users in the creative community, who make a living from licensing their work and content.

Among the changes is this gem:

“You give us permission to use your name, and profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related that content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you. If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.”

ASMP created a handy Q&A about the new terms of use that helps break down the changes and what they mean for photographers.

This comes on the heels of the ASMP-led criticism of Instagram that was recently issued.

We have to wonder, at what point will a social network take the step to actually compensate the users that make it tick and protect them from unauthorized exploitation and surveillance? Seems to us like a network that figured out how to do that would find a community very quickly.

Related: Photography Trade Organizations Take Aim at Instagram Terms
AFP, Washington Post Violated Daniel Morel’s Copyrights, Judge Rules
Morel Case Highlights Copyright Risks of Social Networks