Who’s got the flashlight!

Who’s the worst for wear in today’s state of journalism?  While I can certainly lament the loss of jobs in the professional journalism industry, it’s as a citizen that I feel the the loss of skilled journalism the most.  We read mainstream journalism and might not notice that much difference but it’s not what you see that ultimately matters.  It’s what you don’t see.

What is the value to the public of the images photojournalist risk their lives and families to shine a light on?

The drive that it takes for young journalist to show the underbelly of a society or to show how quickly and easily Tallahassee can be hoodwinked or polluted for money. used to be so strong as to cause him bail on a date in order to chase the police scanner at 2:30 am.  We were driven by what we perceived as the right to serve.  “the public has a right to know; to see the realities” I’d say.

You learn from from those that you admire.  You learn from watching and listening.  There will be a day when, as a society, we find out that good enough has doomed us to being exploited by those in charge, police or corporations that are skilled at the spin.

Many of the hours needed to ferret out stories or simply the time and skill to gather the images and words were financed by consumers who paid the freight for trustworthiness.  In many ways, the media choked ourselves to death by not being open to reader feedback.  By keeping ourselves at arms length from those that work to influence journalist, we also kept ourselves at arms length from change.

That mistake, while bad for the professional journalist, is a much bigger issue for the general public who is now willing to accept what they read from unknown sources as the truth.

Every minute was a deadline

Transmitting photos to Singapore for Reuters of the shuttle Discovery from my laptop over a cell phone in a kayak while the shuttle is still airborne.

Kayakers watch as the shuttle Discovery lifts off from Kennedy Space Center.

Photographing the Bear pregame in Tuscaloosa in 1979

Shooting Bowden in Gainesville in the 90

Speaking of The Bear, the first time I remember being beaten out of the mid-field scrum of photographers trying to capture the coaches handshake after a game was Bear Bryant’s 300th victory.  I had my foot stepped on and down I went, trampled like the running of the bulls.  It tore the rubber sole completely off my tennis shoe and tore a 2″ web strap from my camera bag.  Dazed and watching the fluid scrum move away from me, I was sitting at mid-field at Bryant-Denny Stadium smiling because I had gotten beaten out.  A rite of passage so to speak in my second year as a photojournalist only to process my film to find long time AP photographers glasses blocking the shot.  Joe Holloway, a 5′ something ex-marine from the old school wore his glasses on the top of his head.  The sly now-you-see-him-now-you-don’t photographer had one-upped me.

We learn, for better or worse, from the crusty editor and older lensmen.   Maybe I should say that without the 30 or 40 year curmudgeon editors teaching young writers and photographers the finer points of seeking truth and clarity, cubs journalist or citizen journalist are slowly dancing on journalism’s grave.

Listening to : Rod Stewart – The Killing of Georgie

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