Monday, March 9, 2009

One eyed button pusher

Chihuly blown Glass Desert Botanical Gardens

A couple of interesting topics came up about photography I have found interesting this past week.

I was speaking to a friend who now works for a small newspaper in the Southeast. She brought up an interesting topic that I though was worthy of discussion.

She said at the paper she works at the owners don't put a lot of effort into the online product. They don't do video or slide shows. What she is finding to be her biggest challenge is going out and getting the definitive shot that best illustrates the story or the event in one or two pictures.

The challenge is with her previous newspaper jobs were the priority is coming up with 20 pictures for the web slide shows. Now she has to find the definitive shot! If haven't done that before let me tell you it is challenging and very subjective.

This information came to me as no surprise but it is the first time I have heard it with my own ears. The cause and effect of the run and gun photography mentality at most newspapers today.

For the entry level photojournalist and those who have survived the lay-offs its all about the web were good pictures are homogenized into slide shows.

When the slide show concept was becoming a priority at the Tribune Newspaper many of us pushed back. I argued that quality would drop and it is impossible to go to an event and turn in 20 pictures that have the quality standards of the print product. To no avail the rush to multimedia was ON and getting page views (clicks) was the priority. Slide shows are now the norm when covering any event for a community newspaper.

The executive management said quality doesn't matter. We (that's us as journalist) were the only one who cared. The readers could care less. It's good enough. I was absolutely shocked that an executive editor would be steering the business under this standard. Its good enough I heard on several occasions. I knew the end was near, at least for me.

There is a lot to be written on this topic. Does it really matter? Is content important anymore or is it only about advertising revenue. Are the standards important anymore and to whom? Do advertisers care about content. What is the future for newspapers and the web. I have seen slide shows on Gannet sites that have over 100 images on them. Seriously, who has time to look at all these bad pictures?

I would like to use a quote from a former editor of mine. Have community photojournalist become "one eyed button pushers". There is no respect from the public or even your own editors anymore in this profession. Case in point entire photo departments have been laid off from newspapers across this country. Think about it!


debbie said...

Nice Brad! I poked around a bit. I am in love with the windy carnival on your website. So, do you sell prints? If not, you should.



As a newby to the industry I have yet to learn a lot, but what I do see is that though a paper may push for a gazillion images it only makes me strive to produce as many decent images as possible. At the same time I am still discovering how to find that one perfect frame that sets the tone and tells the story. I push myself to accomplish both. That's not to say I do, but it is a goal. When it comes down to it the photogs and the photo editors care and as long as they push and fight for the images they love, then those images will hopefully be seen a majority of the time and ocassionally appreciated by the public.