why I love news / the new photojournalism


White House Press Photographers, circa 1924 (Library of Congress Archives)

I must admit, it’s hard to concentrate on photography at the moment, given all that’s happening here in the U.S. financial markets. News on the bank failures abound, I won’t rehash them here, but it has us glued to the radio at Daylight Photo. Through every crisis of the last 25 or so years emerge memories of the different photo studios I’ve worked in and the respective radios that would bring us news and updates.

My love for news developed in the early ‘70s, a gift from my parents. During the Watergate hearings my dad and I would hop on his motorcycle every Sunday a.m. (early, before mom was awake) and we’d ride down to the Acme Book Store for an armload of newspapers and magazines. Living in central West Virginia, we had access to the Washington Post, the paper that broke the Watergate story (remember Woodward and Bernstein?). We had to get there early, though, because ACME only received a limited supply of The Post. We were always there early and never missed an issue.

Through that paper, at the age of 10, my parents taught me how to witness history as it unfolded week by week. We also had the Pittsburgh Press, U.S. News and World Report and TIME Magazine to keep us informed. The papers would get passed around and I’d dissect the sports sections until the NFL kicked off their one o’clock game.

It was only natural that I’d fall in love with photojournalism and pursue a news career. At one point, circumstance pointed me down the road toward commercial photography and that eventually became my career path. But photojournalism really remains the heartbeat of photography for me, personally.

So, it’s with great interest that I follow photojournalism. It’s no secret that newspapers are on the rapid decline (in the U.S., at least). But there is still some wonderful work being done. Picture stories that are as powerful as ever, maybe even more so, thanks to new technologies. Enter the audio slideshow.

At a conference of news photographers held earlier this year I saw an audio slideshow that just yesterday came back to memory. It was the 2008 NPPA (National Press Photographers Association) national winner in the audio slideshow category. The story follows the trials and tribulation of inner-city Calvin Coolidge High School in Washington, D.C. Yes, the same newspaper that introduced me to quality news reporting is still leading the way, winning awards for outstanding journalism. If I should ever doubt the power or future of photojournalism, the bookmark for this slideshow will remind me that stories worth telling with a camera will always find a way to be told.

It takes a minute or two to load (due to the audio track) but I hope you’ll find time to turn off your other distractions and watch the Calvin Coolidge High School story here.

For more great photojournalism, visit The Best of Photojournalism 2008.