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August 14th, 2014

Philly Paper Swaps Ferguson Riot Photo: Did It Do the Right Thing?

Reading a Philadelphia Magazine report about the decision by editors at the Philadelphia Daily News to change a cover photo in response to some outrage on social media left us wondering:  Did photo editors at the Philadelphia Daily News change their minds because they thought they’d made a mistake? Or did they change their minds to avoid controversy and public outcry?

philly DN covers_555

The Philadelphia Daily News cover in question (above, left) featured a photo from Ferguson, Missouri that showed a protestor about to hurl a burning Molotov cocktail gas canister at police. Protests began in Ferguson over the weekend, after police shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. The protests began peacefully, and have remained mostly peaceful, but some violence and looting have erupted, and police have been widely criticized for their iron-fisted and highly militarized response to all protestors.

Against that backdrop, the Daily News published a cover photo of a protestor with the Molotov cocktail burning canister over the headline, “Hell Breaks Loose.” The photo drew immediate and harsh criticism on Twitter: Readers said the image could be taken to suggest that the (mostly white) police response was justified because the (mostly black) protestors were being so violent. In response the Daily News put out another edition of the paper with a different photo.

The second cover photo shows a distraught-looking female protestor, holding up a sign demanding answers from police about the shooting of Michael Brown. Police in riot gear can be seen lined up behind the protestor. The Daily News did not change the headline.

And that leads to some larger questions about photo editing in the social media age: Should editors show deference to the instant opinions on Twittering readers, on the theory that input from the public leads to more informed picture choices? Or does deference to the instant opinions on social media undermine photo editors by encouraging readers to constantly demand changes and retractions on coverage of controversial or sensitive topics?

Philadelphia Magazine published Tweets from Daily News readers, followed by a Tweet from a Daily News senior writer who wrote, “Based on reader reaction we’re changing our front page image — so we actually do listen.” That was followed by a Tweet from Daily News assistant city editor David Lee Preston that said: “Big takeaway from tonight should be that a bunch of pros with hearts & souls inhabit this newsroom.”

But it remains unclear why the Daily News changed the cover photo: Did they think they’d made a mistake? Or were they simply bowing to pressure from some angry readers?

Regardless of their motives, we throw open the floor to PDN readers: Did the Daily News make a mistake publishing the Molotov cocktail-throwing protestor? Should the paper have changed the cover photo? Should photo editors let social media reaction influence their decisions, and if so, to what extent?

Note: Earlier version of this story described the burning object in the protester’s hand as a “Molotov cocktail.” Readers noted it was a burning gas canister. We changed it.  In this case, we listened to readers on social media, too.

July 21st, 2014

New York Daily News Lays Off Nine Photo Staffers, Including David Handschuh

The New York Daily News has laid off at least 17 newsroom staffers, including five photographers and four photo editors, according to the New York-based publication Capital. Among those who lost their jobs were photographer David Handschuh, who has been with the paper for 27 years; and Jim Alcorn, the paper’s second ranking photo editor.

Reached by telephone, Handschuh told PDN that he was “absolutely speechless” yesterday when he was called into the office from an assignment, “and told I was no longer an employee of the New York Daily News.

“I was shown the door and walked out by myself.”

Handschuh says the other photographers laid off with him include Andrew Theodorakis, Aaron Showalter, Enid Alvarez, and Mark Bonifacio. Besides Alcorn, the photo editors who lost their jobs were Karlo Pastrovic, Kevin Coughlin, and David Pokress, Handschuh says.

According to the Capital report, Daily News staffers were particularly outraged about the decision to lay off Handschuh, who nearly died while covering the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center for the paper on September 11, 2001.

Handschuh posted a message on Facebook saying, “I know that with support of my family and friends, I will overcome this minor hiccup in life much as I did 12 years ago when I was crushed under the the falling steel and concrete [of the World Trade Center]. The buildings are back. The spirit survives.”

Handschuh, who is 55, says he’s been busy with various projects and had had no plans to retire from the paper. “I was hoping to end my career being carried out of there,” he says.

Despite a dearth of newspaper staff jobs, he is optimistic about finding another job. “I have passion for this business and a desire to keep telling stories. It’s [a matter of] just finding the right place,” he says

The layoffs were the latest round in a series of layoffs at the paper. Like many newspapers, the Daily News has been facing declining circulation and print advertising sales revenue in recent years. Capital quoted a memo from the paper’s management saying that the latest lay offs would “put our company in a stronger position to be more competitive and accelerate our plans for digital expansion.”

More details about the layoffs are available at capitalnewyork.com

February 26th, 2014

Brent McDonald Named 2014 POYi Multimedia Photographer of the Year

Video journalist Brent McDonald of The New York Times has won 2014 Multimedia Photographer of the Year at the Pictures of the Year International competition, organizers have announced. He won for a portfolio that included a video called “A Deadly Dance” about a surge of heroin use in Portland, Maine; and a story about Christine Quinn’s campaign for mayor of New York.

A Deadly Dance from The New York Times – Video on Vimeo.

Documentary Project of the Year honors went to NPR’s Planet Money team for a project called “Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt.” The project also won first prize for Documentary Journalism (multimedia).

National Geographic won Best eBook (app) honors for “The Photography Issue, October 2013.”  The Best Website award went to Narratively.

Adam Panczuk won the Best Photography Book award for “Karczeby,” about the people of a region of east Poland with a strong cultural attachment to the land.

Contest organizers also announced on Monday that The New York Times won Best Newspaper honors, while National Geographic won for Best Magazine.

Judging for the competition, which began February 5, ended today. Various teams of jurors judged entries in five separate divisions: News, Sports, Reportage, Editing, and Multimedia. (Click links to see our stories on category winners in each division.)

Related:

Who’s Winning at POYi? PDN Links to First Place Entries in Editing and Multimedia Categories
Daniel Berehulak Named 2014 POYi Freelance Photographer of the Year
Barabara Davidson Named 2014 POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year
Patrick Smith Named 2014 POYi Sports Photographer of the Year

February 24th, 2014

Who’s Winning at POYi? PDN Links to First Place Entries in Editing and Multimedia Categories

©The Denver Post/Craig F. Walker. From "Cecil & Carl," first place winner of POYi's Newspaper Feature Story Editing category.

©The Denver Post/Craig F. Walker. From “Cecil & Carl,” first place winner of POYi’s Newspaper Feature Story Editing category.

After naming Newspaper and Freelance Photographers of the Year and winners of various other categories during the past three weeks, the Pictures of the Year International competition continues to release results in other categories.

Jurors have weighed entries for the Editing and Multimedia Division categories this past week. Here’s a round-up of winners in those categories so far, with links to online versions of the stories and videos:

Editing Division:
News & Issue Story Editing (newspaper): The Washington Post, “Never the Same: Refuge Stories from the Syrian Exodus.” The entry features photography by Linda Davidson.

Feature Story Editing (newspaper): The Denver Post, “Cecil & Carl,” featuring photography by Craig F. Walker.

News & Issue Story Editing (magazine): National Geographic, “The New Oil Landscape,” featuring photography by Eugene Richards.

Feature Story Editing (magazine): TIME magazine, “A Portrait of Domestic Violence,” featuring photography by Sara Naomi Lewkowicz.

Series or Special Section: The New York Times, “The Lady Jaguars–Year 2,” featuring photography by Ruth Fremson.

Editing Portfolio (newspaper): Becky Hanger and Jeffrey Furticella, The New York Times.

Editing Portfolio (magazine): Kira Pollack, Time Magazine.

McDougall Overall in Excellence in Editing Award: The New York Times.

Best Newspaper and Best Magazine winners have yet to be named.

Multimedia Division:

Feature: “Sensei” by freelancer Ora DeKornfeld.

Sports Feature: “The Lights Go Out: the final season of Hollywood Park” by a team from the Los Angeles Times, including videographers Spencer Bakalar and Bethany Mollenkof.

News: “Spanish Bank Scandal Wipes Out Savings,” by freelancers Almudena Toral, Suzanne Daley and Rachel Chaundler.

Issue Reporting: “The Last Clinic,” by Maisie Crow (See Maisie Crow’s web site for the trailer and photographs).

Jurors will select winners of the Documentary Journalism category today. Tomorrow, jurors will select Documentary Project of the Year, Best eBook, Best Website and Multimedia Photographer of the Year.

Related:

Daniel Berehulak Named 2014 POYI Freelance Photographer of the Year

Barbara Davidson Named 2014 POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year

Patrick Smith Named POYi’s 2014 Sports Photographer of the Year

February 11th, 2014

Barbara Davidson Named 2014 POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year

Los Angeles Times photographer Barbara Davidson has won Newspaper Photographer of the Year honors in the 2014 Pictures of the Year International (POYi) competition, contest organizers announced this afternoon.

“[T]he judges noted a strong balance of powerful aesthetic with solid journalistic content” in Davidson’s portfolio, POYi organizers said in a prepared statement. Her portfolio included two picture stories: “A Healing Bond,” about a girl from Afghanistan who came to the US for medical treatment; and “LA’s Shooting Season,” about the trauma team at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Runners up for Newspaper Photographer of the Year honors were James Oatway of The Sunday Times (Johannesburg) and Lacy Atkins of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Winners of all the POYi Newspaper Division categories were identified by PDN earlier today.

Meanwhile, POYi judges also selected winners in two Sports Division categories today. They include Alex Goodlett of the Daily Herald (Provo, Utah), who won first prize in the Recreational Sports category; and Daniel Ochoa De Olza won first prize for Sports Picture Story.

Related:
POYi Posts Winning Entries for Its Newspaper Division Contest (And PDN Names the Photographers)

February 11th, 2014

POYi Posts Winning Entries for Its Newspaper Division Contest (And PDN Names the Photographers)

 

©Taslima Akhter

©Taslima Akhter

Taslima Akhter of Bangladesh has won first prize in Spot News category of the Newspaper Division in the Picture of the Year International (POYi) competition, and Niclas Hammarström has won top prize for the General News category.

POYi organizers have not yet announced the names of the winners, pending completion of judging in all divisions and categories of the competition on February 25. But POYi is posting the winning entries on its web site as they are selected, enabling visitors to the site to figure out who they are. (The Newspaper Photographer of the Year entry has not been posted, however.)

Akhter and Hammarström both won prizes for heartbreaking images. Akhter’s image (shown here), called “Final Embrace,” shows two garment workers who died embracing each other in the collapse of a factory building in Dhaka, Bangladesh last April. Hammarström’s prize-winning photograph, from Aleppo, Syria, shows the badly burned face of a child.

Other categories and first prize winners for the Newspaper Division include:

Feature Pictures Story: Lacy Atkins (San Francisco Chronicle) for “100 Black Men Community Charter School.” (original story here.)
Issue Reporting Picture Story:  Lisa Krantz (San Antonio Express News) for “Twice Betrayed: Military Sexual Trauma.”
News Picture Story:  Tyler Hicks (The New York Times) for “Massacre at a Kenyan Mall.” (see Lens Blog)
Portrait Series: Sara Brincher Galbiati for “Circus Kids of Kabul.”
Portrait: Magnus Wennman (Aftonbladet) for “Merullah.” (Fourth slide in gallery here.)
Feature: John Stanmeyer for “Signal.” (lead and second image here.)
Natural Disaster: Philippe Lopez (AFP/Getty) for “Philippines Weather Typhoon.

Judging for the POYi Sports Division began yesterday. Mark J. Terrill of Associated Press won first prize for Sports Action for his photograph of welterweight boxer Pablo Cesar Cano landing a punch on the face of opponent Ashley Theophane. Jabin Botsford, a student at Western Kentucky University, won first prize in the Sports Feature for an image he shot at a Kentucky high school cheerleading competition.

Other Sports Division category winners will be selected today and tomorrow. Judging for the Reportage Division (formerly Magazine Division) entries begins on Friday and continues through this weekend. Editing and Multimedia Division entries will be judged next week.

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).

December 5th, 2013

The Pleasure—and Challenges—of Photographing Nelson Mandela

©Jillian Edelstein

Nelson Mandela in 1997. © Jillian Edelstein

Nelson Mandela, the legendary African National Congress leader and former South African president, was a symbol of hope, justice and human rights to people around the world. South African photographers who saw him up close over the years—both before his international fame and afterwards—recall a man who was every bit as charismatic, gracious, and good humored as his public image suggested. Despite all the access Mandela gave them—or perhaps because of it—photographers found it challenging to get a unique portrait of him.

“He was unendingly charming,” says South African photographer Louise Gubb, who covered Mandela as a freelance photographer, and shot several portraits of him for various publications in the 1990s.

Gubb recounts one of Mandela’s ceremonial walks around the presidential compound in Cape Town. Mandela was surrounded by a phalanx of photographers when a photojournalist working for a local Afrikaans newspaper suddenly fell backwards into a fish pond.

“And Mandela—he was so sweet—he went and tried to help him out” of the water, Gubb says. After that, whenever Mandela saw that photographer at official events, “He would say, ‘Now you all watch your step today. I don’t want you swimming in my fish pond again.’”

The last time Gubb saw Mandela, four or five years ago at a press conference, he greeted her, “Hello, Louise. I thought you would be on pension by now,” she recalls.

“He always told jokes. He would have been a good comedian,” says Jürgen Schadeberg, who first photographed Mandela in 1951 at an African National Congress meeting, and took his portrait in 1952 in his law office. Schadeberg and Mandela met many times in the coming years, when the photographer was freelancing for Drum, the groundbreaking magazine that covered black life in South Africa.  Says Schadeberg, “He was what we call in German a mensch.” Mandela always held the press in high regard for the role it played in freeing him, and moving South Africa beyond apartheid. He didn’t play favorites, and never seemed to tire of the media attention (or the long parade of politicians, activists, and celebrities who trekked to South Africa just for an audience with him).

South African-born photographer Jillian Edelstein photographed Mandela for The New York Times Magazine in 1997. Meeting him at Tuynhuys, South Africa’s presidential office in Cape Town, Edelstein says she was awestruck.

“I started smiling and I thought my face would crack. It was like meeting a saint,” she says. “It was something I’d never experienced before or since.”

“I suppose for me, he emerged from what had been the bastion of the government oppressors.”  Seeing the first freely elected president, she says, symbolized “the oppressor supplanted,” Edelstein continues.

Since Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 (he ascended to the presidency of South Africa four years later, in an historic election), photographers have shot thousands upon thousands of images of him at public events. He was almost always smiling, as if he was truly delighted to be there, and he was often seen interacting with children or the downtrodden, giving them his full attention.

“He [would] always break ranks to say hello to the person in the wheelchair, or some little child,” says Gubb, noting that Mandela particularly loved being around kids.  “So if you knew that, you could [anticipate] and get great pictures … If there were children there who were going to sing, he would go over there and dance, and sometimes sing back to them.”

Because Mandela was photographed so often, and because he had one predominant mood (bright and sunny), it was a challenge to photograph him in any truly distinctive way. Edelstein says that when she photographed Mandela in 1997, his automatic reaction was to make a “thumbs up” sign. Finally she caught a moment when he looked reflective and “somewhat poignant,” she says.

“I think that up until that time the only images I’d seen that were coming out were him dancing or thumbs up or smiling.”

A year after his release from prison, he took a retinue of press back to Robben Island, where he was incarcerated for years. There, Schadeberg took one of the most reproduced photos of Mandela, showing him gazing through the bars of his former cell.  Photographers were given access to Mandela in the cell one at a time, Gubb says. “He was like a piece of putty,” willing to do whatever he was asked to do.

But after he was elected president, media access was much more limited. Still, Mandela hated to say no to photographers who asked for time with him.  “He’d say, ‘I’ll have to talk to my chiefs,’” Gubb says. “He  would hide behind his [handlers] because he didn’t like to refuse.”

A few photographers had privileged access. The late Alfred Kumalo of the Johannesburg Star was a family friend, and had freer range around the presidential grounds than other photographers, according to Gubb. Peter Magubane was Mandela’s official photographer between 1990 and 1994, and followed Mandela everywhere. Magubane, who had shot for Drum magazine and later Time magazine, tells PDN he had been hired as Mandela’s official photographer “because [Mandela] knew my credentials, and knew I wouldn’t sell out.” But Magubane describes their relationships as “strictly business.” By most assessments, no single photographer had the defining take on Mandela’s life, public or private.

Says Gubb, “Photographers, writers, television—everyone was [treated equally]. He took them all in their stride, and nobody was excluded.”

One challenge for photographers was that they couldn’t use flash when photographing Mandela; the rule was strictly enforced by his bodyguards. The reason was because his eyes had been damaged by the bright, reflective light of the sun at the limestone quarry where he was forced to work while a prisoner on Robben Island.

For the past six years, Mandela was largely out of the public eye. Several years ago, he invited Schadenberg and his wife to his home for lunch. “He was sitting in his armchair in his slippers. He said, ‘I’m an old man who isn’t doing much, just sitting around. It’s so kind of you busy people to come see me,’” Schadenberg recounts, adding that Mandela was always saying that he wasn’t anybody special.  “It wasn’t to make an impression.  It was genuine.”

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 29th, 2013

PPE 2103: Inside the Mind of a Photo Editor

Have you ever wondered what a photo editor actually does? At the 2013 PhotoPlus Expo panel “Photo Editing: A to Z” attendees got an inside look courtesy of two speakers: Elizabeth Krist of National Geographic and Bronwen Latimer of The Washington Post.

The panel was broken up into short-form and long-form journalism topics, as the two have widely different lead times. Latimer, the deputy director of photography at The Washington Post, noted that the lead-time for an article in the newspaper is anywhere from two to eight hours. She added that the lead-time is even shorter on the Web. Krist said National Geographic has a minimum lead-time of six months, and that they are already working on stories for 2015.

Latimer said she’s constantly looking at photo sources, including blogs, websites and galleries, for work that provides a fresh perspective on a subject. Her presentation included examples of photos from promos, e-mails, and websites that she has hung on to because she either likes the image or may have an article in the future on a topic that the image illustrates. Latimer gave the following advice to photographers interested in catching the eye of newspaper photo editors: always keep your website up to date so editors can see what you’re working on; show the work you want to be shooting; and pitch ideas to the digital extensions of newspapers because they are always looking for new content to post on their blogs and websites.

To discuss long-form journalism, Krist, the senior photo editor at National Geographic, showed David Guttenfelder’s work that was featured in the October issue for an article about North Korea. She shared the edit of images that she pitched to Editor-in-Chief Chris Johns and noted that she likes to have a rhythm to a layout so she often organizes work by different themes, in this case by categories like city life, the countryside, propaganda, etc. (These categories helped to avoid repetition in the layout so there was enough variety to warrant the 20 pages, including a gatefold, that National Geographic dedicated to the story.) Krist also briefly spoke about the exhibition “Women of Vision: National Geographic Photographers on Assignment,” which she curated.

Both Latimer and Krist mentioned that they appreciate photographers who explore a topic in depth. Krist added that she likes to see a whole body of work when photographers show her their portfolios.

When asked what they look for when choosing a layout’s opening image, Krist said she likes an image to be unexpected and draw the viewer in. Latimer noted the photo should grab a reader’s attention, and be the photographic equivalent of a gut punch. This advice seems as applicable to portfolio and presentations as it is for publications.