Photojournalism in the Digital Age

Ever since early man scrawled his thoughts and experiences on the inside of a cave, “journalists” have helped inform the public and shape the course of society. And never has the role of the reporter been more important than it is in today’s complicated, fast-paced world. While the Internet has opened the floodgates of news and information, it has also transformed how reporters, photojournalists and news organizations go about their business.

One astute group keeping tabs on such things is the Neiman Journalism Lab, a project of the Nieman foundation established in 1938 at Harvard. The Lab publishes the quarterly magazine Nieman Reports, the nation’s oldest magazine devoted to a critical examination of the practice of journalism. Today their mission is helping journalism practitioners plot their course in our Internet age.

You can read the Lab’s work online at and I encourage everyone to take a look at the Spring 2010 edition of Nieman Reports dedicated to photography. As the Editors point out, the changes in photojournalism we are witnessing today were not just instigated by innovations in technology and how information is disseminated, but by newsroom budget cuts, multimedia possibilities and the ubiquity of digital images; in short, by a dramatic evolution in both the distribution model and the production model of journalism.

As writer Joshua Benton points out, “A good photo gets spread around the Internet so quickly that maintaining ownership—and the money that comes with it¬—can be almost impossible.”

So what does the future of photojournalism portend? Is the rapidly changing technology a blessing or a curse? Will the nature of the Internet and “eReporters” muddy the careers of professional reporters and photographers? How about the shifting roles of stock photo agencies? What about a world populated by an army of camera phones?

Take a look at the insightful work of the Neiman Journalism lab and you just might find the answers to these and other probing questions. In addition to reading the reports online, you can also subscribe to their work and receive one email each afternoon detailing all their new content from the previous 24 hours.

Carla Bruce's picture

I am a Journalism major and at the same time I indulge myself in photography. I really want to be a photojournalist. Since I am into writing and photography, I think this course and future career fits in. Everyone is flocking into journalism saying they have a knack in writing but not in photojournalism. When I had to write my paper for a college admission, I tackled about why I want to be a photojournalist. I think I made a good reasons about my topic and it is close to my heart. I want to write and at the same time, take pictures. I want to work for TIME magazine or Discovery channel. I always believe that pictures can move people to be better. Photoshop or other picture editing is not acceptable just to promote an very emotional picture and post it on the internet to make it viral and get a good credit. The main purpose of photojournalism is to enlighten and give awareness to people to make their selves and the society better. As for the photojournalists and the future ones, let us be careful on posting our pictures on the internet to avoid big fuzz and controversy. Practice responsible journalism.