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August 27th, 2013

Police Intimidation Watch: Cop Charged with Lying About a Photographer’s Arrest

A New York City police officer has been charged with felonies and misdemeanors for lying about why he arrested a freelance news photographer, according to a report in The New York Times.

The officer, Michael Ackermann, claimed that he had arrested Robert Stolarik, a freelancer for The New York Times, because Stolarik had repeatedly flashed a camera strobe in Ackermann’s face, thereby interfering with another arrest Ackermann was making at the time. On the basis of photographic evidence and eyewitness accounts of the incident, the Bronx district attorney concluded that Ackermann was lying, according to the Times story.

Stolarik was arrested in August, 2012 when police got angry with him for allegedly refusing to stop taking pictures of an arrest, according to an earlier Times report.

At the time, Stolarik was accompanying two reporters who were conducting street interviews when they came upon a street altercation. When police at the scene ordered Stolarik to cease taking pictures, he identified himself as a journalist for the New York Times, and continued to shoot. A police officer then “slammed” Stolarik’s camera into his face. Stolarik asked for their badge numbers, at which point they took his cameras, dragged him to the ground, and arrested him.

According to a police report, police said they had ordered the crowd and Stolarik to move back “numerous times,” and that Stolarik had resisted arrest “violently.”

Stolarik received minor injuries during the arrest. Police returned his gear about a week after the arrest. The charges against him were eventually dropped.

The Bronx district attorney investigating the case concluded that Stolarik didn’t use a flash during the incident, and didn’t have one on his camera, despite Officer Ackermann’s claims.

Ackermann was charged with filing false records and official misconduct. If convicted of the most serious charges, he could be sentenced to prison and lose his job, according to the Times report.

Police Intimidation Watch: NYPD Arrests Times Freelancer
Police Intimidation Watch: NYPD Returns Cameras to Times Freelancer

August 23rd, 2013

Freelance Photog’s Tale of Abduction By Syrian Rebels Serves As Warning

Today The New York Times published a story about a freelance photographer’s abduction and captivity in Syria. The tale should serve as a warning for photojournalists—particularly those who are inexperienced—who might be inclined to freelance in a war zone.

Matthew Schrier was abducted in Aleppo on December 31, 2012, he told the Times, taken out of a taxi by Syrian rebels with ties to Al Qaeda and passed among rebel groups for seven months. According to the article by CJ Chivers, Schrier believes the driver of the taxi he was riding in out of Aleppo “probably” participated in his abduction.

“His experience reflects the sharply deteriorated climate for foreigners and moderate Syrians in areas subject to the whims of armed religious groups whose members roam roads, staff checkpoints and occupy a constellation of guerrilla bases,” Chivers writes.

Schrier’s captives accused him of working for the CIA, tortured and interrogated him, and assumed his identity online and communicated with his friends and family. In an account of one of the beatings Schrier suffered, Chivers writes, a captor asked Schrier, “Have you heard of Guantánamo Bay?”

When he escaped he left behind another American who couldn’t fit through the small basement window Schrier had slipped out of.

“Mr. Schrier’s detention is one of more than 15 cases of Westerners, mostly journalists, being abducted or disappearing in Syria this year,” Chivers writes. “The victims range from seasoned correspondents to new freelancers, like Mr. Schrier, who was covering his first war.”

Read the full story: http://nyti.ms/1c0IJfh

August 21st, 2013

From Twitter to TIME: An Egyptian Photojournalist Finds His Voice Amid Violence

A difficult reality of photojournalism is that photographers often define their careers by covering conflict. Egyptian photojournalist Mosa’ab Elshamy is the latest example. Elshamy began photographing as a citizen journalist during the Arab Spring protests in Egypt in 2011, when he documented demonstrations against then-President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Two and a half-years later, he’s made the transition from being an amateur to being a photojournalist who is watched by top photo editors and a nearly 40,000-strong Twitter following.

Elshamy’s work in Egypt, and from Gaza during the 2012 war there, has been published by the likes of The Economist and Harper’s among others, and he’s won awards in the Egypt International Photography Contest and Arab Union of Photographers competition. Yet during the last few weeks his photos of Egypt’s descent into violence, particularly his images of the clearing of a pro-Morsi sit-in at Rabaa at the end of July, have earned him the cover of The New York Times and bylines for TIME International and AlJazeera English, among other publications.

Patrick Witty, international picture editor of TIME, says he first heard about Elshamy’s work on Twitter at the end of July. “After the massacre at Rabaa Square on July 27, someone I follow tweeted about a picture he made,” Witty told PDN in an email. “I tracked it back to his Flickr account and reached out to him.” (more…)

August 2nd, 2013

Laid Off, Maddie McGarvey Offers Touching Homage to Small-Town Newspaper Photography

Photojournalist Maddie McGarvey has written a touching tribute to her work as a newspaper photographer at Gannett’s Burlington Free Press. McGarvey was laid off yesterday, along with 200 other Gannett employees, she reports in a blog post published today, which she titled “Looking Forward.”

Despite the setback, McGarvey says that several of the subjects she’s met in her year on the job have changed her life and given her a sense of optimism, perseverance and community, and she shares her photos and stories of those people. She writes: “I’m hopeful for this career that so many friends and I have chosen to follow. This job, in my short time, has led me to some incredible people who have absolutely changed my life for the better.”

It’s worth a read: http://maddiemcgarvey.com/2013-08-02

July 26th, 2013

French Editor and Photographer Charged Over Topless Kate Middleton Photos

The editor of French Closer magazine and an unidentified photographer have been charged with violation of French privacy laws for their alleged role in the publication last September of topless pictures of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge (and now new mother of baby Prince George).

Last spring, Closer’s publisher and photographer Valerie Suau were charged in the case.

The Telegraph reports that Closer’s editor, Laurence Pieau, was charged earlier this month for her role in the publication of the photos, which show Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, sunbathing topless while on vacation in France last September. Authorities did not announce the charges until yesterday. Pieau has defended her decision to publish the photos in various interviews, saying “I did my job as a journalist,” according to the report.

A third unnamed photographer may soon be charged as well, The Telegraph says.

Suau and Ernesto Mauri, the publisher of Closer, were charged in the case under France’s strict privacy laws last April. Suau has admitted taking images of the Duchess sunbathing topless, but Suau says the pictures she took were “all decent.”

Suau is suspected of having helped other photographers take topless pictures of the Duchess, according to The Telegraph report.

Kate Middleton and her husband, Prince William, have pressed authorities to charge Closer with “grotesque breach of privacy” and have gained public sympathy and support for their efforts, in part because of bitter memories of the death of William’s mother, Princess Diana. She died in a car crash in Paris in 1997. The driver of the car was intoxicated, but many people have blamed the princess’s death on the paparazzi, who were in pursuit of the car to get photos of Diana and her boyfriend when the crash occurred.

Related stories:
French Photog Could Go to Jail Over Topless Pictures
French Court Orders Magazine to Hand Over Topless Photos of Kate Middleton

 

July 18th, 2013

Startup Aims to Help Media License Amateur News Photos for $20 Apiece

An image sourced by CrowdMedia from a Twitter user who was on the tarmac at SFO during the Asiana Airlines crash was used in a gallery on Huffington Post.

© Huffington Post. An image sourced by CrowdMedia from Twitter user @mcc_maryland, whose plane was on the tarmac at SFO during the Asiana Airlines crash, was used in a gallery on Huffington Post.

A six-week-old company that connects media organizations to amateur photographers who have taken newsworthy photographs is creating some buzz, and could add yet another wrinkle to the market for news photography—one professional photographers and their photo agencies may not like.

CrowdMedia, the Montreal-based startup, uses a combination of an algorithm and a manual process to analyze more than 100 million images shared everyday via Twitter. The company identifies the .03% of these images that they consider valuable and newsworthy, reaches out to the creators via Twitter, and asks them to click a link if they would like to make their image available to media organizations. Once the creator of the photo creates an account, images are uploaded to the CrowdMedia platform, where media companies can find and purchase them for roughly $20 apiece, regardless of the usage.

Roldan says, “News outlets want [photos shared on social media] but it’s really cumbersome.” CrowdMedia promises to streamline the process, connecting editors directly to social media users.

CrowdMedia launched in June, shortly after the Chicago Sun-Times layed off its photo staff.

To read the full interview with CrowdMedia’s Roldan and learn more about the company’s pricing and functionality, see our full story, now on PDNOnline.

Related: Chicago Sun-Times Eliminates Photo Staff

July 16th, 2013

Police Intimidation Watch: Detroit Police Apologize After Video Shows Them Violating Photographer’s Rights

With a public relations mess on its hands, and a video showing that it probably violated the constitutional rights of a Detroit Free Press photographer, the Detroit police department has apologized to the paper’s editors, and promised to issue a directive reminding officers that they can’t interfere with anyone videotaping them in public.

The apology to Free Press editors came after reporter Mandi Wright was arrested while making a video of police arresting a criminal suspect on a public street, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press.

The video (above) shows an officer approaching Wright and ordering her to turn off her iPhone, which she was using to make a video of the arrest. (more…)

June 25th, 2013

Chicago Sun-Times’ Suburban Papers to Pay $10 Per Photo, Give or Take

The photo editor for a chain of suburban newspapers owned by Sun-Times Media of Chicago told freelance photographers yesterday that news and feature photo assignments will pay $65 each, and that photographers are expected to deliver 5 to 7 photos per assignment.

“Of course more photos is always nice for choices and file art if the story is revisited,” Pioneer Press Newspapers photo editor Geoff Scheerer wrote in a memo to freelancers. The memo was obtained and published today on the Jim Romenesko media blog.

The rate for sports photo assignments is $90, according to the memo.

In May, Sun-Times Media fired its staff photographers at the Chicago Sun-Times and its suburban papers. STM executives explained that they were diverting resources from photo to video because readers wanted more video. They said the papers would rely on reporters and freelancers for photo coverage.

Scheerer told freelancers for the suburban papers in his memo that he was clarifying rates “now that I’ve been given a hardcore budget.” For more details about the rates and Scheerer’s expectations of photographers, see the original memo.

Related: Chicago Sun-Times Eliminates Photo Staff

May 30th, 2013

Chicago Sun-Times Eliminates Photo Staff

The Chicago Sun-Times has laid off its entire photography staff, and will instead rely on reporters and freelancers for pictures, according to a Chicago Tribune report. The lay-offs affect about 20 full-time staff.

In announcing the layoffs, the Sun-Times issued a statement saying its “business is changing rapidly and our audiences are consistently seeking more video content with their news. We …are focused on bolstering our reporting capabilities with video and other multimedia elements….[A]s a result, we have had to restructure the way we manage multimedia, including photography, across the network.”

The Chicago Newspaper Guild says it will take actions against the cuts, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. “We will be looking into all of our options, legal and non-legal,” guild executive director Craig Rosenbaum told Crain’s.

Over the past decade, newspapers around the country have drastically reduced staff, including photographers. Few papers rely entirely on freelancers for their photography, however.

May 20th, 2013

NY Times Public Editor Questions T Magazine Photoshopping Policy

In an editorial published yesterday in The New York Times, the newspaper’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, questioned the rules regarding Photoshopping at T, the monthly style magazine published by the Times, and suggested that readers should be notified when fashion images have been digitally manipulated. She also pointed out that editors shouldn’t assume that readers understand the difference between the standards for a news photograph and a fashion photograph.

Responding to comments last week from readers that a T cover model was too skinny, T editor Deborah Needleman told Sullivan that T editors had considered “adding fat” to the model using Photoshop.

Another Times reporter called the comment “jaw-dropping” because journalistic standards would never allow for photography manipulation.

Drawing on comments from other Times picture editors including Michelle McNally of The Times and Kathy Ryan of The New York Times Magazine, Sullivan affirmed the Times’ photography standards: “The Times does not stage news photographs, or alter them digitally.” Except, Sullivan noted, in T‘s case, where it’s deemed acceptable to alter fashion and glamour photography. The assumption being that readers are aware that fashion and glamour is a “different genre of photography,” and therefore the Times’ obligation to those readers is different.

“It would be best if all the photography produced by the Times newsroom could be held to the same standard,” Sullivan wrote. But, she said, if fashion photography must exist as its own world of assumed fantasy, there should be a disclaimer for readers.

Is it realistic to expect that the Times could hold fashion photography to the same standards as news photography? Do readers need to be told that fashion images aren’t “real?”