January 19th, 2011
Can we rescue great photojournalism?
Photojournalists are yesterday’s heroes. True, there are still some big names out there, among them Gilles Peress and Sabastiao Salgado. But the significance of their work is unclear. Do they shape political or social opinion through their images? Or are they mostly regarded as imaginative artists who just happen to be drawn to tough, newsworthy subjects? Few photographers are any longer seen as providing definitive information about some national or international trouble spot, at least very few who are what used to be called professionals. The news magazines, which turned certain photojournalists into superstars, have been fading for decades, and the newspapers are in dire health. The proliferation of amateur photographs and videos on the internet has swamped whatever sense there was of photojournalists and their editors as gatekeepers, providing some judgment and oversight. The whole idea that photography has some particular purchase on the truth has been called into question in places high and low, from the writings of Susan Sontag to the rants on cable TV. Definitive is itself nearly a defunct concept.
True enough, photojournalism has always been met with a certain degree of skepticism. A half century ago, there were intellectuals who quite rightly saw the world as represented in Life and Look as in many respects a fiction, ….. Read the full article: The New Republic