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The Decline (and Maybe Demise) of the Professional Photojournalist


The rise of the citizen journalist is not a new phenomenon. People have been witnessing and taking pictures of notable events for a long, long time. And they’ve been selling them to traditional news organizations just as long.

But professional photojournalists, and more recently videographers, have continued to make good livings at a craft that helps inform the rest of us about the world we live in. That craft has never been more vibrant, or vital. But the ability to make a living at it will crumble soon.

The pros who deal in breaking news have a problem. They can’t possibly compete in the media-sphere of the future. We’re entering a world of ubiquitous media creation and access. When the tools of creation and access are so profoundly democratized, and when updated business models connect the best creators with potential customers, many if not most of the pros will fight a losing battle to save their careers.

Let’s do a little time travel.

Zapruder cameraThis movie camera captured the most famous pictures in the citizen-media genre: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Abraham Zapruder, the man pointing the camera that day in Dealey Plaza, sold the film to Life Magazine for $150,000 — about half a million dollars in today’s currency.Zapruder Frame 246

In Dealey Plaza that day, one man happened to capture a motion picture — somewhat blurred but utterly gruesome nonetheless — of those terrible events. Zapruder’s work, by any standard we can imagine, was an act of citizen journalism.

Now consider what media tools people carry around with them routinely today — or, better yet, consider what they”l have a decade from now. And then take yourself, and those tools, back to 1963.

Dozens or hundreds of people in Dealey Plaza would have been capturing high-definition videos of the assassination, most likely via their camera-equipped mobile phones as well as devices designed to be cameras and little else. They’d have been capturing those images from multiple perspectives. And — this is key — all of those devices would have been attached to digital networks.

If soon-to-be-ubiquitous technology had been in use back in 1963, at least several things are clear. One is that videos of this event would have been posted online almost instantly. Professional news organizations, which would also have had their own videos, would have been competing with a blizzard of other material almost from the start — and given traditional media’s usually appropriate reluctance to broadcast the most gruesome images (e.g. the Nick Berg beheading in Iraq), the online accounts might well be a primary source.

(Less germane to the topic here, we’d also soon have a three-dimensional hologram of the event, given the number of cameras capturing it from various angles. And we’d probably know for sure whether someone was shooting at the president from behind that famous grassy knoll.)

Consider, as well, how we might remember the horror of September 11, 2001 under similar circumstances. Recall that people inside the World Trade Center towers and on the four hijacked airplanes were making mobile-phone calls to loved ones, colleagues and authorities. Suppose they had been sending videos of what was going on inside those buildings and planes to the rest of us? The day’s events would go into history with even grimmer — and even more human — detail.

London bombingNow consider another famous picture, the one at the left. It’s the single image that we will most remember from the July 2005 bombings in London. It was taken by Adam Stacey inside the Underground (subway), as he and others escaped from a smoky train immediately after one of bombs exploded.

Again, the production values of the image are hardly professional. But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is the utter authenticity of the image, made so by the fact that the man was there at the right time with the right media-creation gear.

In a world of ubiquitous media tools, which is almost here, someone will be on the spot every time.

And there will be business models and methods to support their work.

Today, YouTube is the site of choice for all kinds of videos, including newsworthy ones such as the recent abuse-by-taser of the student at the University of California, Los Angeles (more than 764,000 viewings as of today), and the racist nightclub rantings of Michael “Kramer” Richards (more than 1.2 million viewings). Both were captured by mobile-phone video cameras.

Others will make their way to sites like the newly announced projects such as YouWitness News (a joint project of Yahoo and Reuters), or operations like Scoopt or NowPublic. They and other companies want to be aggregators of, and in some cases brokers for, citizen-created media. (Disclosures: I am teaching a class with Yahoo’s editorial director, and I’m an advisor to NowPublic.)

If reputable photojournalists face big changes, so do the paparazzi who capture celebrities’ public (and sometimes private) doings. Bild, the trashy German tabloid, asks its Leser-Reporters to send in their own pictures — and pays handsomely. (I’ve been told, but haven’t verified, that some of the professional paparazzi are submitting photos this way, because they can make more money than through traditional dealings with the newspaper.)

The business part of this is important. I’m highly skeptical of business models, typically conceived by Big Media Companies, that tell the rest of us: “You do all the work, and we’ll take all the money we make by exploiting it.” This is not just unethical.. It’s also unsustainable in the long run.

Not every person who captures a newsworthy image or video necessarily wants to be paid. Stacey’s picture was widely distributed, including onto the front pages of many newspapers, in part because he put it out under a Creative Commons license allowing anyone else the right to use it in any way provided they attribute the picture to its creator. There were misunderstandings (including at least one use by a photo agency that apparently claimed at least partial credit for itself), but the licensing terms almost certainly helped spread it far and wide in a very short time.

The problems this trend will create are not trivial. One is that democratized media tools also include easy and cheap ways to fake or alter reality.Fakeplane

The picture at right circulated widely around the Net after Sept. 11. It purportedly shows an airliner about to hit a World Trade Center tower, with an unlucky tourist having his picture taken just before the moment of impact. The photo is fake — a composite created by a not-so-funny prankster. It was quickly debunked (see this Snopes urban-legends page, for example), but not before a lot of people were initially fooled. Some who saw the “photo” are probably still believing it was authentic.

To weed out the phony stuff, we’ll need to combine traditional means of verification with new kinds of reputation systems. It won’t be easy, but the need for such methods is plain enough.

So, back to our friends, the professional photo or video journalists. How can people who cover breaking news for a living begin to compete? They can’t possibly be everywhere at once. They can compete only on the stories where they are physically present — and, in the immediate future, by being relatively trusted sources.

But the fact remains, there are far more newsworthy situations than pro picture takers. In the past, most of those situations never were captured. Not any longer.

Is it so sad that the professionals will have more trouble making a living this way in coming years? To them, it must be — and I have friends in the business, which makes this painful to write in some ways.

To the rest of us, as long as we get the trustworthy news we need, the trend is more positive.

Remember, there was once a fairly healthy community of portrait painters. When photography came along, a lot of them had to find other work; or at least their ranks were not refilled when they retired. Professional portrait photographers, similarly, are less in demand today than a generation ago. But portraits have survived — and thrived.

The photojournalist’s job may be history before long. But photojournalism has never been more important, or more widespread.

UPDATE: The comments are producing some fascinating material. Please take a look.

Some folks are misinterpreting what I’ve written. (Part of this is my fault, for not being crystal clear at the top that I’m talking about spot (breaking) news; I’ve fixed that — and also changed the title of this posting to say “Decline” instead of “Demise” as suggested indirectly by a commenter.)

I’m not saying all professional photojournalism will disappear. Great feature photography is a special skill that amateurs won’t match anytime soon, if ever. There will be many cases, as well, where even the pros get in place to capture the spot-news picture.

But they won’t be able to be everywhere at once. And in an era when news organizations are whacking away at staff as fast as they can, the pressure to use what the community can provide will be irresistible given the money it will save.

I’m not saying this evolution is an entirely positive development (though it will help in some circumstances). I am saying it’s inevitable.

Also: I’ve corrected Nick Berg’s first name, which I got wrong in the original piece.

And, welcome to Slashdot readers, whose comments are well worth a look, too. Thanks as well to BoingBoing and Romanesko readers who followed links here, and to the many others who linked to this post.

104 Comments on “The Decline (and Maybe Demise) of the Professional Photojournalist”

  1. #1 Scott Maxworthy
    on Dec 4th, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    Great article.

    Not only is this “flattening” trend appearing in the photojouralism realm but across the whole commercial spectrum, whether content or product, the degrees of separation between consumer and creator is getting smaller.

    Where there is an “uneducated” buyer then “trusted source” increases in relevance.

    What is interesting is the reemergence of “trust” in all transactions and online marketing realtionships – whether that is the creation and sales of product; media or service, the internet increases transparency and accountability.

    Think of an Ebay type user ranking for all information creators and referrers.

  2. #2 ABC Digital Futures » Blog Archive » The demise of the professional photojournalist
    on Dec 4th, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    […] Dan Gillmor, at the Centre for Citizen Media, says “the rise of the citizen journalist is not a new phenomenon. People have been witnessing and taking pictures of notable events for a long, long time. And they’ve been selling them to traditional news organizations just as long. […]

  3. #3 Notes from a Teacher: Mark on Media » The photogs’ futures
    on Dec 4th, 2006 at 10:38 pm

    […] Dan Gillmor gets a lot right in his lengthy post The Demise of the Professional Photojournalist. […]

  4. #4 Kyle MacRae
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 3:23 am

    Agree with pretty much all of that, Dan. One billion cameraphones will be in circulation globally by 2008. One (surely welcome) consequence of this is that the first witness to anything that happens everywhere on the planet will be members of the public. And we’re not far off the point where a global army of ‘stringers’ will be on call to provide content on demand.

    Meanwhile, the latest Reuters/Yahoo initiative ( continues the trend of luring people into contributing valuable content free of charge, although there is, or seems to be, a crumb of a carrot in terms of perhaps getting paid something at some point, maybe.

    But when people submit content freely, can you blame Reuters/Yahoo/every other MSM publisher from trying to cash in? Yes, because the thinking is flawed.

    First, it assumes that people will continue to give away valuable content for free. In fact, this notion is already on its last legs. In the UK, the Sun newspaper, Channel Five TV and now (remarkably, but inevitably) the BBC are all acknowledging that they will pay a price (although not necessarily a fair one) for amateur content.

    Second, it assumes brand loyalty. The Times is banking on the fact that Times readers will send their news pictures to them. But the fact is that they won’t if the Telegraph pays for content and the Times doesn’t. Would you? No, you’d go to the highest bidder – or submit your picture everywhere in search of multiple pay-offs, spoiling any possibility of a scoop.

    Third, Scoopt ha slong advised people not to give away their copyright. The real value in an image or video is not just in the first sale but rather in secondary sales all over the world. I believe that the message is getting across and publishers and broadcasters who think they can grab copyright should rethink their strategies. (Notably, the chap who made £60,000 on the day for his amateur footage of terrorist suspects being arrested in London has gone on record since to say he wished he’d kept his copyright and seen some of the long-term value.)

    Finally, people – content creators – don’t necessarily think in terms of scoops in the way that obsesses old media. As well as the cash reward, they want to get the news ‘out there’ as quickly and as honestly as they can. What this means is that the next hot pic will likely show up on Flickr and MySpace as well as on your daily newspaper’s front page and website. And the front pages and websites of all its competitors.

    User-generated content tends towards an open marketplace. It wants to be ‘free’ (that’s free to self-propagate virally, not free of charge). Citizen journalists are not like professional journalists: they’re not on staff, not on a salary, and they have no particular loyalty to any title or channel. They’re increasingly inclined to maximise the value of their content while simultaneously sharing it everywhere. Rights-grabs aren’t going to cut it. UGC in general and citizen journalism in particular are bigger than this.

    This is when the role of a trusted, independent broker becomes essential, which is what we’re trying to build with Scoopt. Anybody who wants to contribute to the news should be able to do so instantly, easily and globally, with a guarantee of fair compensation *if they want it* when their content is used commercially (which pretty much covers all print, broadcast and web usage). Anything less than this is simple exploitation.

  5. #5 Piranha Daily News » The Demise of the Professional Photojournalist by Dan Gillmore
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 6:33 am

    […] Read More… […]

  6. #6 » Blog Archive » What Will Happen to Professional Photographers?
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 8:07 am

    […] Dan Gillmor writes about the fate of professional photographers and videographers in an age of user-generated content – what will happen to the pros, he wonders, when content creation is democratized? Whether photojournalist or videographer, immediacy and authenticity are virtues alongside artistic quality, and there are many more events to record, and citizen journalists, than there are pros. It seems clear that many pros are going to get squeezed out – a lot of content that has been created by people with more equipment than ability is going to be displaced, and those 10,000,000 typing monkeys are inevitably going to produce some interesting work. We may well see immediacy and authenticity displacing creative quality to some extent as well – it’s happening in print; there’s no reason to suppose it won’t also happen in photo and video. But quality will always matter, and paradoxically may even come to matter more. […]

  7. #7 Ralph Grabowski
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 8:58 am

    London subway bombing photos are the exception. One of the problems of citizen photojournalism is the poor quality of their photos. I was just over at CNN looking at the reader-submitted “i” photos of the Eastern US’s recent snow storm. Ho hum.

    As for “Citizen journalists … have no particular loyalty to any title or channel,” they do have their biases and are ripe for takeover by pressure groups.

  8. #8 » links for 2006-12-05
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 12:47 pm

    […] Dan Gillmor: The Demise of the Professional Photojournalist I’m really struck by how pervasive cameras are these days. It seems like a third of people at a protest or a party are taking photographs. Gillmor suggests that the profusion of cameras will erode the professional role of photogs. (tags: journalism photography JFK Web2.0) […]

  9. #9 Chris Krewson
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    From a newspaper multimedia editor’s perspective, much of this makes perfect logical sense.

    So we’re training our photographers to use HD video cameras and professional audio equipment to create mini-documentaries of stories and projects for the newspaper (and its Web site, natch).

    Some places (Dallas, Newark, etc.) are doing this already. We’re catching up. Is it the answer? Dunno. It’s AN answer, and it gives these increcibly talented professionals a shot.

    Breaking news is only part of the news report. There are things to fill the rest of the day/week/month/year. It’s on the strength of those that audience is built, not who got the best photo of last night’s fire.


  10. #10 john curley
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    There’s an awfully long leap between being able to better capture what you are position to witness and the demise of professional journalism.

    Are people with cellphone cameras going to send themselves to Iraq or Darfur or to the scene of a national disaster? No. Are they going to do the explanatory or investigative journalism that newspapers and magazines and television stations routinely do? No.

    I can’t believe Gillmor could for a second seriously believe that the proliferation of digital devices will bring about the end of professional news photography.

  11. #11 Dan Gillmor
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    John, I was talking about spot news for the most part — that’s where it’s going to be hard for professionals to match the competition.

  12. #12 Rob Ray
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    I couldn’t agree less. As someone who isn’t a photographer at all, it is still pretty easy for me to understand there is a HUGE difference in quality in what I see on the cover of the New York Times Magazine and what I see on Flickr.

    Its like saying that a programmers days are numbered because the advent of the blog will render them redundant.

    The job of a photojournalist is not to simply “take pictures.” It is to tell a story (journalist) with photos (photo). That telling of a story takes time, it takes patience, and it takes people skills, and it takes a trained eye that can capture moments in interesting ways. Take a look at James Nachtweys pics on 911 and you’ll immediately understand the difference.

  13. #13 Jonathan
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    I disagree with just about everything you’ve said.

    The climate that you’ve described has allowed witnesses and participants of newsworthy events to document, report, and publish their experience.

    Professional photojournalists and videographers don’t do that. As professionals by trade , they choose or are assigned stories to cover. Sometimes they will travel in search of a story, when an area presents potential.

    Seldom are professionals witness to events as they happen, and when they are they play a special role — offering the insight of both a participant and a trained professional.

    When you look at visual records from the World Trade Center attacks, you can see a dramatic difference in what is covered (and how) between the professional photographers who were among those escaping, amateur photographers among those escaping, and the professional photographers later sent to document the scene.

    I found little overlap in the approach to the situation across those perspectives– and I find it hard to see how the amateur ‘witness’ threatened the professional in any way.

    The proliferation of cameras isn’t going to erode the professional role of photographers, the only thing it will eliminate are the hacks with little talent– and i think that’s something that professionals and consumers alike would see as positive.

  14. #14 D
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 3:41 pm

    Mr. Gillmor;

    You write: “Zapruder’s work, by any standard we can imagine, was an act of citizen journalism.” Something is wrong with your imagination, then.

    It’s wrong to put the words “citizen” and “journalism” together. “Journalism” is an art and craft that requires training and experience. So what is a “citizen journalist”? Are trained, employed, professional journalists NOT “citizens”? Can any “citizen” be a “journalist”?

    You insult and devalue the whole profession by using this term. Stop now and create a more accurate term for what you are describing.

    A person with a camera who records a newsworthy event is not necessarily a journalist, nor is the person necessarily a citizen. Please consider more accurate words like “witness”, “eyewitness”, “camera witness” or make up something new and internetty like “MeTVMonkey” or something.

    Do you think Zapruder knew Kennedy was to be shot at that spot and positioned himself at the right location for photography? Do you think he knew it was important to carry a camera and film that day? Get a grip, this was mere chance.

    Do I have any credibility? Yes, I have a BA in Photojournalism, with honors, and have worked professionally and earned awards for my work.

    Please consider coming up with a new and more accurate term for what you want to say. Be creative, you might just create a new buzzword!


  15. #15 Ferry Fey
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 5:23 pm

    Regarding trust that content will be fair and accurate — you’ve made an error in the name of the man who was beheaded in Iraq. It was Nick Berg, not “Scot” Berg.

    In addition, there are some good reasons to believe that not all of what were claimed to be cell phone communications from the 4 hijacked jets on September 11 stand up to scrutiny. Leaving aside the questions of whether the cell phone calls could have been made at all from planes rapidly leaving a cell phone tower’s zone, there are a number of contradictions in the accounts of those phone calls which can’t all be simultaneously true.

    So can you be trusted as a source?

  16. #16 Dan Gillmor
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    Thanks, appreciate the correction on Berg…

    Are you suggesting that all of the calls on Sept. 11 were somehow phony? I don’t understand your point.

  17. #17 Phil Wolff
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    One response may be to sustain a capital barrier. Everyone may carry around the equivalent of a small television studio in their pocket, but a pro may carry around gear costing a year’s salary. More pixels, colors, frames per second, dimensions, better lighting, audio, software. The technology may be a moving target, but it’s the difference between spending $300 a year on your news gathering and production tools vs. $10k a year.

    Swarming is the other effect I’m eager to see supported. 3 people shoot a bloody car accident; the swarm engine notifies stringers within a 5 minute walk of the spot of the opportunity to join in. Why sit watching mediocre YouTube when I can walk a block and see/capture live news? Alerting will change the citizen journalism dynamic even more. Once we swarm, we’ll get to organize ourselves based on the subject, our tools, our talents.

  18. #18 Jim O'Connell
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 6:33 pm

    Dan, all of the examples above of “civilians with cameras” catching news stories are not examples of photo journalism, they are eye witnesses.

    As such, they cannot replace true photo journalism, except perhaps in the minds of budget-conscious old media owners and editors. The stories they capture are the same stories they would capture as eye witnesses, though now, of course, they have a bit more credibility than they might have with their words and memories alone. In that, they do, of course, have more value and deserve new channels of distribution, but must not displace a professional with a camera.

    These “camera witnesses” may add depth to a story, but lack often objectivity and detail. The professional photojournalist will be where he or she has always been, finding stories, following hunches, making contacts, taking risks, maintaining professionalism and objectivity and perhaps most importantly, accountability to bring photos that truly tell a story or report an event.

    I am a longtime blogger and enthusiastic amateur photographer. As I sit here in a café, with my laptop and ever-present camera, I would fall neatly into the category you describe, yet I do not fancy myself a journalist, nor would I want to be seen as such. I do read blogs and see great value in them. In my home, my girlfriend and I are great fans of YouTube’s immediacy and unfiltered style. In Flickr, I have found an audience for my photos that would have been impossible five years ago. Still, these outlets, while they have created an interesting new media, are no replacement for the New York Times or the BBC.

    This discussion is extremely important and I’m glad you have addressed it. I hope that it will help those in a position to employ true journalists avoid the mistake of short-sightedness and a decline in quality in favor of short-term savings.

    It is my sincere hope that in adding more ubiquity, transparency and democracy to the creation of the news, the effect will be to raise the bar of quality, not lower it.

  19. #19 Hamish Grant
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 8:11 pm

    If ppl had today’s cameraphones in Dealey Plaza on November 22nd, 1963, you can be sure the assassin would have either video’d himself shooting the president or had a friend record it for kicks, and THAT would end up on the ‘Net.

  20. #20 Notes from a Teacher: Mark on Media » The photogs’ futures redux
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 8:52 pm

    […] Dan Gillmor has updated his very important post, The Demise of the Professional Photojournalist, offering some clarity and pointing to the debate that’s broken out in his comments. He writes: Some folks are misinterpreting what I’ve written. (Part of this is my fault, for not being crystal clear at the top that I’m talking about spot (breaking) news; I’ve fixed that.) […]

  21. #21 Lisa Williams
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    One of the most interesting questions I’ve heard yet about people outside the newsroom capturing news events was asked of me by Amy Gahran. She said, “Is the Zapruder film journalism?”

    The near-ubiquity of digital cameras in the hands of nonprofessionals resulted in one of the major stories of the Iraq War. Does anyone think Abu Ghraib would be a household name if Charles Graner didn’t have a digital camera? As professional photojournalists know, having a picture often determines whether something is a story or not. Graner demonstrates the fact that people will become news because of their camera in completely unexpected, even unwelcome, ways. My guess is that is going to happen a lot; in fact, digital camera ubiquity may result in more coverage in the traditional media than blogs have, simply because of the power and immediacy of visual images is going to beat a blog entry nearly every time.

  22. #22 Lisa Williams
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 9:01 pm

    Oh, and on a lighter note, the ubiquity of cameras gives non-notable people the opportunity to experience the completely weird and unnerving experience of having your own paparazzi. Example: my main takeaway from the SXSW conference last year was a bunch of really bad photos of me on Flickr.

  23. #23 ethicalBob
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 9:06 pm

    As a photographer of over 20 yrs, and a photojournalist of 15, I can tell you for a fact that Dan is not only largely correct, but the level of quality that the public will accept as “journalism” has greatly diminished.

    The over-democratization of the media (and the Internet) have a dulling effect on society in general. We now live in a time where “reality” TV encourages every-day people to act as offensively as possible to extend their 15 minutes of fame; and anyone with a domain name can post false “facts” on almost any subject, and will be taken an authority simply because they have “published” their opinion.

    The percentage of REAL news published has decreased dramatically, and has been replaced with an endless stream of celebrity news and programming consisting of lame wannabes with an over-blown sense of entitlement.

    Look at your news-stand any day, and see how many magazines even mention Darfur, and how many have the latest inane details of “Britney and FedEx”.

    Corporate media wants to keep the general populace uninformed – distracted from anything that might reduce advertising dollars; and with the masses helping to create their own opiate – we are further distracted every day from the realities that good journalism helps bring to light.

    There certainly have been some VERY important instances of witnessing that has become historically important (the JFK assassination is an obvious example, as is the Rodney King Beating) – but so much of what is being passed off as “journalism” today is brought to you from organizations such as which practially encourages “citizen journalists” to act recklessly for the next scoop of linsay lohan walking out of a bar.

  24. #24 George Dunbar
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 9:16 pm

    The greatest danger to photojournalists is that they will be competing with amateurs who are prepared to give-away their images just for the satisfaction of seeing their camera-work on TV or in the press.
    I suspect that media managment will will force the professionals to lower their fees because there will be a plentiful supply of free images.
    Many TV and newspaper proprietors already advertise for their subscribers to “send in you photos of spot news.”
    How will we taech these amateurs to charge fair rates for their valuable images?

  25. #25 Neil Michael
    on Dec 5th, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    It’s telling that your trophy examples of citizen photography are so many years apart. Telling too that one of them was a hoax. When you consider how many photographs are taken by professional photographers EVERY DAY compared to the number of photographs taken by punters published, I think your doom-monguering is a little premature.

    I totally agree with you that the tools of creation and access to photography and video are becoming more and more accessible and I can’t see how anyone can deny the impact of a growing army of so-called citizen snappers or video jockeys has.

    All the professional photographers I know are in no way fighting a losing battle to save their careers, nor do they see such a struggle in the forseeable future.

    Sure there are far more newsworthy situations than there are pro-picture takers, but that has been the case for decades.

    I think there is a risk that people get so carried away with the various changes in technology that they think it will sweep all before them. While the traditional media has been caught on the hop in many respects, it is catching on and I hardly think the odd flash in the pan on YouTube and other such sites every now and again amounts to a revolution that is going to have professional photographers and video journalists heading for the nation’s dole queues.

    I take your point that new technology is one of the biggest challenges the industry faces, but it’s waaaaaaaaaaay too early for what is becoming a never-ending stream of dreary and premature obits.

    I think these sort of articles get hauled out almost as frequently as a new digit gets added to the latest technological “G”.

  26. #26 Social Media
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 12:28 am

    The Demise of the Professional Photojournalist…

    By Dan Gillmor: The rise of the citizen journalist is not a new phenomenon. People have been witnessing and taking pictures of notable events for a long, long time. And they’ve been selling them to traditional news organizations just as long. But pro…

  27. #27 Zeitung mit Zukunft
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 12:30 am

    The Demise of the Professional Photojournalist…

    By Dan Gillmor: The rise of the citizen journalist is not a new phenomenon. People have been witnessing and taking pictures of notable events for a long, long time. And they’ve been selling them to traditional news organizations just as long. But pro…

  28. #28 Em
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 4:00 am

    It’s interesting to note that CCD imaging chips seem to be showing some kind of Moore-type law. Combined with a proper lens, this means that we’ll have extremely high resolution extremely cheaply. Hell, 10 years from now a camera phone might deliver enough resolution to allow us to look into someone’s pores later. So Gilmore’s trend described above seems inevitable.

    On the other hand, amatuer photographers still haven’t replaced professional stock photographers, though there’s a chance they might. A professional cameraman can take much better photos, given the same technology, as an amatuer, so I believe this will be a niche that will always exist, even if it gets smaller.

  29. #29 StockPhotoTalk | Special Interest Blog
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 4:59 am

    Why Dan Gillmor Got It Wrong With The Announced “Demise of the Professional Photojournalist”…

    Dan Gillmor, former well-known columnist for the San Jose Mercury News and author of the manifesto We the Media, published on Monday on the Center of Citizen Media´s blog his…

  30. #30 ChrisE
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 6:16 am

    An interesting article but I think it’s blurring the lines between what photojournalism is and the emerging “citizen journalism” if you can call it that.

    The images from cameraphones and amatuer photographers tap into our vouyeristic desires to witness the moment. Quality and storytelling are not an issue. When I see a still frame from a cameraphone in a news article I almost always have to read the caption or the story to get the point of the photo.

    Good photojournalists, on the other hand, have the craft it takes to tell the story with a single defining image that communicates emotionally. Only a trained professional has the intuition and the skill to take advantage of environment, framing, lighting and photographic technique. In both of the examples above you can easily find professional shot photography that tells the story and portrays emotion much better. The amatuer photos simply capture it “at the moment” but don’t follow through to capture the visual story as it unfolds.

    As an artist I clip images from the newspaper everyday that inspire me. Images from New Orleans after Katrina. Pakistan after the Earthquake. Iraq. To date not a single one of those images has been produced by an amatuer photographer.

    I think citizen journalism has it’s place but for it to displace photojournalism the general public will need to stop caring about the visual impact a single photograph can make.

  31. #31 Greg Cannon
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 6:49 am

    Back in my days as a newspaper reporter I worked with a lot of great photogs. The problem is that, too often, their skills were overmatched to the job at hand. So they’d show up for an assignment to shoot a story about new green house, for example, and wanting to make a great photo they’d shoot the owner through a skylight or whatever. But then a friend would see the story and photo in the paper and say, “Cool shot, but I still don’t know what the house looks like.” Great photos and informative photos aren’t always the same thing.

  32. #32 Piranha Daily News » Professional Photojournalist’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 8:04 am

    […] Mike Johnston writes, “A lot of people seem to be talking this morning about Dan Gillmor’s “The Demise of the Professional Photojournalist.” About five people have sent me the link. Well written and well reasoned though his piece is, I don’t think I agree with his premise much at all. The reductio ad absurdum of what’s he’s saying is that because there are now so many people with cellphones and digicams, we no longer need photojournalists.” […]

  33. #33 Photojournalism on decline? Not so fast… « Scobleizer - Tech Geek Blogger
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 8:42 am

    […] Dan Gillmor says professional photojournalism is on decline. […]

  34. #34 Lisa Williams
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 9:36 am

    If there’s an afterlife, Marx is laughing. One of the central notions he had about capitalism was that the powerful in capitalist societies pitted the less-powerful against one another, getting them to fight while they walked off with all the cash. Cue pros v. bloggers clash.

    Many people assume that free markets create money, but the fundamental thing that they create is this: they create winners and losers. The more efficient the market, the fewer winners and the bigger the win for those lucky few.

    I run a local news site for Watertown, MA. The reason that sites like mine exist — apart from free tools — is because of the economics of media consolidation. In essence, I and others in my community are using the web to restore service to the levels they might have gotten from the local paper 20 or 30 years ago, levels of service that no news organization can afford anymore.

    The fact is that nobody’s willing to pay to provide that level of service, whether it’s done by me or by a traditional news organization. The tools have fallen to free or near free, but the cost of acquiring an advertiser has stayed exactly the same. And web ads just don’t pay the bills.

    Today, almost all newspapers are owned either by private investors or by investors who buy stock on stock markets. Both kind of investors want the same thing: profitability and growth. As we’ve seen with Knight and Tribune, profitability alone is not enough. And in an era of declining circulation, the ONLY place growth is going to come from is from the web. News organizations have to go to the web, and they have to find any number of ways of delivering product cheaply, or investors will pull the plug and send their cash to Google and Yahoo! and AskLocal and many, many web startups.

    The chain that owns the local newspaper where I live is going to make a switch in their web platform, this week. One of the central features? User contributed content. Now, let’s say they’re commercially successful with that — who wins? Well, a very small group of investors. Only a fraction of it will be reinvested in news.

    The question that everybody’s asking is: how do you provide and even expand current levels of service — particularly in restoring service to communities that have seen their news coverage shrink dramatically — without spending more money, or spending even less money?

    I think everyone in this thread would like to change the question, but we’re not in charge.

  35. #35 Lisa Williams
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 9:37 am

    God, that’s a long comment. Sorry.

  36. #36 Trevor Butterworth
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 9:56 am

    That there are so many digital cameras in circulation only has relevance for spot news. And this is great. But let’s thing of the ways in which citizen photo-journalism won’t change anything. Broadly speaking any credentialed event excludes the amateur. And that isn’t going to change.

    Sports: even if citizen photojournalists could afford $30k worth of equipement, no-one is about to let them near a serious sporting event. Moreover, the point about hiring a pro to cover this kind of even is that they are the best guarantee of getting the shot.

    War: spot news aside, citizen journalists are not going to be assembling a body of meaningful work along the lines of Salgado or Nachtway. Unless they turn pro.

    Politics: again, I’m sure the future will provide more and more fodder for u-tube, but contolling the media environment will simply up the ante on credentialing.

    Celebrities: who has the time or resources to be a papparazzo without the contacts to bring in the moolah? Stand in line at a celebrity event and see how the most-favored publications get access while those down the food chain bicker and squabble.

    Advertising, product shooting, editorial illustration: one word separates the amateurs from the pros – lighting.

    I could go on. I got my first break in journalism through photography and not writing. Why? I had good pictures that no-one else had. A good news picture will sell, with enough hustle. And if you can keep selling your work, then I guess you’re a pro.

    What is more important to the future of photography is that newspaper editors push their photographers to do better work and allow them to be creative. The number of dull photos that show up on a daily basis is unforgivable given the talent out there. Think about how the launch of the Independent in London blazed a path for some truly great photojournalism. The dramatic spot news event will take care of itself.

  37. #37 Roger Bruce Feinman
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 10:04 am

    It’s unfortunate that Dan Gillmor uses the Zapruder film example to make his point about the democratization of photojournalism, because he neglects to mention that Time/LIFE, which purchased the film from Zapruder, suppressed it for a dozen years, except for publishing a limited number of still frames, until a bootleg copy was broadcast on Geraldo Rivera’s ABC prime time series in March 1975. Also, a woman named Beverly Oliver claims to have been one of the closest eyewitnesses to the assassination holding a movie camera that day, and that her camera and film were later confiscated by the FBI. There are also instances such as press photographer Tom Dillard, whose still photo of the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository Building within seconds after the shooting was irreparably damaged by investigators. It is far less likely that any similar suppression would occur today.

    Professionals who know how to tell a story through pictures have little to fear, I think, from amateur photo enthusiasts and their mini-megapixel cellphones. Besides, there are many off-the-beaten-track stories in this world that deserve telling. The more resources that are available to discerning editors and publishers, the better informed the public will be.

  38. #38 Patrick Yen
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 1:47 pm
  39. #39 fj
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    Excellent comment, Lisa. As with so many journalism ‘trends’ (another one recently was the outsourcing of journalism to India…), it’s more about getting consumers to accept lower quality, more glitz, and of getting more bang for the shareholders’ buck than it is about really driving a media revolution.

    Look at all the stock photography: all the good stuff has been gobbled up by Gates & Co, and the rest comes from unpaid amateurs.

    Look at the interns who do all the court reporting these days.

    Look at the scrimping and saving that goes on in layout, editorial, expenses etc, which instead goes towards promotion and management bonuses.

    But nobody writes about this.

  40. #40 Menlo Bob
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 4:09 pm

    Considering the average person’s access to the tools of traditional journalism–a descriptive vocabulary and computers–your assessment of photojournalism would apply equally to journalists in general. In that way the distorting filter might be lifted.

  41. #41 steve berman
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    Once again a writer feels qualified to lend his “expert judgement” on a visual profession. If any form of journalism is threatened it’s the written one. As photojournalists gravitate more and more to video forms and voice recordings to augment their still images THEY will be the working journalists ( BECAUSE THEIR EXPERTISE, RELIABILITY,INTEGRITY AND TRACK RECORDS OFFER ASSURANCE OF SUCCESS) not the self-professed all knowing writers. The reader/viewer will have direct access to the sounds and visuals of events more frequently and will make judgements on their own. It will be a leap forward from the mere words of a reporter filtered through and biased by the hubris of a thought pattern that says because they can wordsmith, they are qualified to offer their interpretations of a multi-sensoryl world.

  42. #42 Dean
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 4:39 pm

    I don’t think the proliferation of high end, amateur-friendly, digital cameras is anywhere near the threat to the professional photographer as bad management among newspapers and websites is.

    For one thing, how often do you see newspapers or websites post spot news, as it is traditionally defined? Newspapers long ago tired of overturned cars and smoking kitchen fires – although TV still loves that stuff today. Newspaper editors – none of them visual by background – have steered their products away from blue collar, nitty-gritty NEWSpapers, and instead love the political, or the cute, or the intellectual. Gotta love a rainbow over the city skyline. A homeless person? Not likely.

    That’s probably the biggest problem facing professional photographers today: the dumbing down of photojournalism such that ANYBODY with a digital camera can produce an acceptable, publishable image. The standards for imaging in newspapers is becoming more mediocre.

    Websites complicate this.

    How big is the average picture on a news website? About two and a half inches wide? What’s the point of paying a craftsman to make a quality image when any reporter with an 8 megapixel point and shoot with fill flash can produce a reasonably good-looking image in the same space?

    There was a great book published some decades ago called “Visual Impact in Print,” and it talked about how size of a published image and impact on the reader went hand in hand.

    Where is the impact of imaging in today’s news websites?

    Every 20-something hired to produce a newspaper website has only a fraction of journalism experience that any 40-year-old veteran has. Yet, for some unknown reason, editors place more confidence in the web techie to create a journalism site than they do their own staff. Consequently, almost all newspaper websites look alike. Young tech heads aren’t really thinking about impact, and they definitely model their ideas on existing platforms. There is very little originality to the typical newspaper website.

    Scads of headlines and points of entry jammed into about five inches of screen real estate. Pictures have to compete with all that mush, and they don’t have a chance to compete very well.

    How many print products publish their front page the same way? With 30 headlines all above the fold? They don’t. Bigger headline and pictures balance the desire to put the kitchen sink into half a page. But for some reason the standards are different on the web. And the standards are slipping.


    Photography isn’t dead, but it’s dying due to a lack of leadership or imagination on the part of the people vested with the authority to shape the presentation of the news in tomorrow’s news products.

  43. #43 Danny Defreitas
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    I think photojournalists generally hold themselves in a far too exalted position. Anyone with a good camera can take a good photo. There’s some great stuff Flickr. Sports is the only area that’s hard for the citizen journalist to compete. They don’t have the credential or the equipment to cover big sports events.

  44. #44 giornalismi possibili » Dai video “little brother” al citizen journalism
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 7:10 pm

    […] Grazie all’ampia diffusione di video-phone e mini-camere digitali, stiamo entrando alla grande “nell’era del citizen journalism”. Nel caso qualcuno fosse distratto, ce lo ricorda un articolo su USA Today, in cui si segnalano eventi di diversa natura avvenuti di recente in alcune statunitensi, immediatamente ripresi da qualcuno e rilanciati su internet, dove hanno subito trovato “grande attenzione nazionale e finanche internazionale”. L’occhio di “little brother” apre così le porte al giornalismo diffuso e di base. Analoga riflessione arriva dal pionere dell’e-journalism Dan Gillmor: commentando uno di tali episodi, segnala il fallimento del fotogiornalismo professionale: «I professionisti hanno un problema. Non possono affatto competere nella media-sfera del futuro. Stiamo entrando in un mondo dove la creazione di media e l’accesso saranno onnipresenti». […]

  45. #45 Thomas
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    I don’t think I’d automatically presume professional photographers are doomed. More likely the value of photography – and photographers – will be greatly reduced because it’s going from an art form to point and shoot. With skill level goes pay, and I don’t see a lot of skill guys getting hired anymore. That’s really not the point with the web; it’s about speed. So, how many guys will be able to make a living from it?

    I do think though it’s presumptuous to think that, with all the great photography that might be out there in the ether, that any of it will go with the day’s news. As the previous poster correctly notes, credentials mean something. But credentials go a lot further than in just sports. Just because you have a great cell phone camera doesn’t mean you’re going to cover the mayor’s press conference. You’re not covering the state legislature. You’re not walking into Bill Gates’ office. Isn’t that most of what’s in the newspaper anyway? Any skilled amateur who commits himself to documenting the plight of the disadvantaged isn’t an amateur anymore anyway.

    But the unique skill that photographers in the era of film may have possessed is well in the past. Anybody can take a great picture. But not anybody can make a great picture. It’s a smaller skill set, but still important.

    Still, overall, I think the web is filled with crap – even on newspaper sites. Nobody cares about a great picture. They just want a picture. And if that’s the standard, it’s going to be really hard for a lot of guys to make a living doing only photography.

  46. #46 Karen
    on Dec 6th, 2006 at 8:55 pm

    The website that figures out how to use pictures effectively will probably be the website to set standards for journalism online, citizen or other.

    Take Wednesday’s Washington site. The cover picture goes with the story on a suicide bomb attack. It looks interesting. But can you really read it? It’s tiny. And when you click into it, instead of getting a larger version of the picture to see you go instead to a story that doesn’t contain the picture at all. So just what was the point of having a complex picture on the website, where each face is less than half a fingernail in size, and that you can barely make out anyway? If it runs too tiny to really appreciate what’s going on, it’s arguable what value it brings.

    I’ve read where newspaper editors have said they’re concerned about retaining rights to their images, so they run them small or low res to avoid having them pilfered.

    But what exactly are they saving them from? Or for? Are they making that much money on resales?

    If online editors want to motivate their audience to embrace online photography and return to their website often, they’re going to have to give up a little on copyright concerns. Use the pictures bigger, and allow readers to view and download much larger images than they can currently access. Everything online can get lifted and reprinted someplace else anyway, so stop worrying about it. Make the images useful. Encourage pilfering and printing. If pictures matter, prove it online.

  47. #47 Web Strategy by Jeremiah » The web enables sharing of life’s experiences, a discussion with Dave CEO of HDS
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 7:14 am

    […] On one of Joseph Jaffe’s podcasts, he indicated that by 2010, half of all media will be created by consumers. Using the web amateurs are now creating images, video, media, and reporting the news and it’s scaring the professionals. […]

  48. #48 W
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 7:50 am

    I could not disagree more with Mr. Gillmore, not because most of what he points out isn’t true, most of it is. But the reasons behind these declines in our industry are numerous, at least as far as photojournalism is concerned. I think only a small part of our woes deal with citizen journalism.
    Citizens, by and large, will always lack consistent access to breaking news for several reasons: the media continues to gain access to situations the general public cannot, the public often lack the knowhow to navagate breaking news situations (9/11 is a prime example of this,) and most people simply won’t dedicate themselves to breaking news content unless it is easy. So, you will always see the occasional blip when a bystander gets something great, but by and large, if you put a trained professional’s work from any given breaking news event up against a citizen journo…my money is on the pro. Especially when the breaking news event is more serious. 9/11 generated a tremendous amount of citizen content, but it is very obvious to me that professionals rulled that event without question. Citizens in general do not have the stomach, the dedication or the brains to stick with it and not a lot will change that.
    I think there are much more pressing, fundamental issues facing most newsrooms at present which are a much greater threat and none of these issues are new by any means. The most difficult challenge for news media is and will continue to be delivery and content quality. For decades, we’ve forced consumers to come to us for both great and less-than-great content.
    The web has in large part broken that system and Google specifically has replaced most delivery systems for all sorts of information, especially for upcoming generations. And too many newsrooms have done little to adapt aiside from pushing more print-based content to their websites. The fact that a majority of smaller newsrooms all over the country and world are only now really starting to embrace web content signals how hard the industry has tried to ignore that trend (There are, of course exceptions.) News organizations are also, for the most part, extremely arrogant in their opinions about what defines good content. This more than anything has hurt the profession, both journalism and photojournalism. To worsen the situation even more, many organizations continue to pump out content that is not that good and have little to no plan to improve that trend or think that their content is fine. But criticise anything in just about any newsroom out in the open and you will be stoned almost instantly because newsrooms and creative criticism are like oil and water for the most part. And this is the way many many newsrooms have operated for a very long time and readers know it. How? Because we grumpily defend ourselves every time they call to criticise us or, better yet, we just don’t answer the phone.
    The excuse for most of this is almost doctrine now:
    We don’t have enough time, enough people, enough resources, enough money, the company tries to make too much money…etc. Well, the good news is before too long many of us won’t have newsrooms either so we will be released from our suffering.
    In my experience, photojournalist — aside from being one of the most vocal complainers in most newsrooms — are at least embracing all things web. They are, again in my experience, the ones experimenting with new media, collecting audio, using Soundslides, experimenting with video, combining different medias to tell stories. They have been the one hope in many newsrooms, leading movements to learn new technologies and even, could it be true, offering a positive attitude that is desperately needed.
    So, is photojournalism dying? I think not. Photojournalists are an important resource now more than ever. But the profession is changing like it always has since the first camera was invented. Maybe now at a faster pace, no doubt.
    But as a profession, we all need to take a hard look at what we are offering the readers, our customers, and how those offerings are delivered. After all, the news biz is just that, a business, and it is not beyond the mechanics of supply and demand. All of us can take a serious, cold, rational look at what we are asking them to pay for without compromising our obligation journalism. Only then will things start to get better.

  49. #49 Clicked : The marketing mind trick
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 9:20 am

    […] Posted: Thursday, December 07, 2006 8:55 AM by Will Femia Why interactive websites can create false memories – You may want to copy this into Word and increase the font size to read it, but ultimately it’s a really interesting summary of a paper that shows people to be more prone to false memories about interactive models.  Looking at the paper itself, the idea seems to be that interactivity helps us visualize an object in our minds, but once we’re imagining it, we can lose track of what we actually saw and what our imaginations are adding.  It seems to me the real question is how to plant imagined details into a person’s mind (without using the Force).  I didn’t read through the whole paper, so maybe it’s there. Speaking of marketing mind tricks, A toy story, YouTube-style – You may remember clicking some remote control helicopter videos here in the recent past.  Turns out that was part of a wave of alternative marketing.  This makes two days in a row I find myself wondering if I’m actually participating in exploring word-of-mouth on the Web or whether I’m making myself a marketing tool.  Remote control helicopters are cool, the videos were cool, isn’t that all that matters?  Is it better that it’s not being forced down my throat with overt advertising or is it more insidious that it’s being snuck into my daily life?  Does word-of-mouth Web marketing foster a more honest kind of capitalism? NewTeeVee is a new blog monitoring the online video scene.  More text than video, but I’ve already learned some interesting things from it and it’s only a couple days old. Speaking of new online video coverage, Blogpulse has added a yesterday’s top videos list.  It’s a little hard to go through with only the URLs as a guide.  The most interesting thing I clicked that I hadn’t seen elsewhere was this documentary on Hitler’s home movies.  It looks like it’s for BBC5.  The movies were silent so historians used lip reading technology to find out what Hitler was saying.  Most of the video is build-up.  The translations come around the 30 minute mark.  I was interested to note (at 34:14) Hitler’s enthusiasm for giving every German household a camera so they could record the nation’s growth.  I don’t think anyone gives Hitler credit for being an early envisioner of citizen journalism, but that’s OK, screw him. Speaking of citizen journalism, The demise of the professional photojournalist – He’s talking about photojournalists who do breaking news and whether they can compete with citizen journalists who happen to be on the scene when news breaks.  Dan Gillmor is probably the most prominent student/teacher/proponent of citizen journalism, so I respect his views, but I don’t think I agree with this one.  Speaking as someone who makes an active effort to be aware and prepared for citizen journalism opportunities, I can see how a professional with good equipment, listening to a police scanner and with personal contacts in emergency services could get much better pictures of breaking news than police tape gawkers holding their cell phones in the air.  Of course there are those amateur photos and videos of news taking place, but I think those only expand the available breaking news media, not replace the existing system. What really troubles me about citizen media is that it’s not necessarily reliable coverage.  Yesterday there was a stabbing in Union Square in New York City.  Not only is New York a very wired place, but Union Square is extremely crowded and there are NYU students everywhere over there who are presumably tech savvy and gadget equipped.  “Witnesses said as many as 50 youths went after each other with canes, belts, fists, and more during the melee…”  But these were the only citizen photos I could find of it and it turns out the guy who took them is a professional photographer!  Maybe the citizen journalists didn’t get around to upload them yet? Free file conversion – By chance, the other day I was looking for a way to turn a wma file into an mp3 file and all the free services online were downloads.  Since I wasn’t feeling very bold about putting strange software on my machine I didn’t do anything.  Then I randomly came upon Zamzar.  You tell it what file you want converted and what you want it converted to and then e-mail you a link to download the converted file.  So far I don’t think I’ve received any spam for giving them my mail address, but I used my junk mail address anyway.  The whole thing worked great.  (The audio was only 2 megs.) Graffiti generator – This is for MySpace pages, and naturally no die hard graffiti fan would tolerate it, but it’s fun for what it is. Speaking of letter styles, there are few souls more tortured than designers.  See how they view the world. “Free Jamil Hussein” is a new meme circulating among warbloggers.  You’ll recall that Jamil Hussein is an unusually often-quoted source in AP stories about the situation in Iraq.  The call to “free” him is directed at the AP to allow public verification of the guy.  See also this lengthy reply to New York Times coverage from earlier this week. The finalists in The 2006 Weblog Awards – The list isn’t linked yet, so you have to search for the ones you’re interested in.  There are so many categories it’s a wonder everyone in the blogosphere isn’t a finalist in something. I really like the idea of this mp3 digest.  I’d prefer to be able to listen to the whole thing as a podcast, but I appreciate the reviews.  So many mp3 blogs I click link as fans instead of critics. And by the way, on Rex’s list of worthwhile blogs yesterday, The Morning News is one that could have been on that list.  Though it can be a little NYC-centric, I often find interesting things there, like this Commuter Click: The geopolitics of Asian Cyberspace. Speaking of the Web’s unseen structure, Avatars consume as much electricity as Brazilians – How much electricity does it take to run the servers that support Second Life and it’s virtual inhabitants?  Find the math done here. Pencil art – This is funny to see in the wake of the carved crayons from the other day.Unusual navigation on this site, but if you click around enough there’s a lot of neat stuff here. I’ve been running into a lot of links to National Geographic lately.  I don’t know how new the current design is, but I really like it.  Especially the extra information in the side bar.  And especially especially the camera meta data in the slide shows.  The comments from their illustrations editor in their user submission section are also very insightful. The girl guitar – Not really perverse, but still a little weird. Making Atlas Shrug in Venezuela – Can the U.S. manipulate its immigration policy to orchestrate a sort of brain drain (productivity drain) in Venezuela? While the rest of us go insane waiting until January for new episodes of Heroes, if you haven’t been watching you can catch up on the entire series on the NBC site – free.  (Take advantage of this while it’s the hot gimmic.  I can’t imagine free online rebroadcasts are going to be the norm for long.) Top ten naked people on Google Earth – Totally safe for work because a naked person on Google Earth is just a blur but it’s a pretty funny distinction to have if you’re one of the ten. Another online Christmas tradition:  the Scared of Santa gallery Tea cups that stain in an attractive pattern – This reminds me of a history I once heard of why blackbelts are black.  The idea was not that you advance to a new color but that your continued use of the belt while training would lead to it gradually turning darker with dirt and sweat.  I don’t know if that’s true, but the idea of becoming a blackbelt(cup) tea drinker has some appeal. “Wordie lets you make lists of words — practical lists, words you love, words you hate, whatever. You can then see who else has listed the same words, and talk about it. It’s more
    fun than it sounds.”  That’s good because it doesn’t really sound very fun. Wii Safety: The Missing Pages (from the safety manual) If I saw my kid throw himself on the floor like this I think I’d have a heart attack.  This one in the series may be better. […]

  50. #50 Lisa Williams
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 9:41 am

    Dean, you make a good point:

    Newspapers can do audio and video now, thanks to the web. What if a paper did a video segment of the day, along with a recap of news, done in a fresh and interesting way (no people standing around with mikes with cubes on them?) They might be able to tap into the pool of broadcast advertisers that TV gets.

    Ditto radio. Radio, in particular, may offer newspapers the ability to create content for the web that can be syndicated, perhaps even broadcast over the air.

  51. #51 Lisa Williams
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 9:42 am

    Uh oh. Looks like I muffed the blockquote tag. Let’s try that again. Dean says:

    “For one thing, how often do you see newspapers or websites post spot news, as it is traditionally defined? Newspapers long ago tired of overturned cars and smoking kitchen fires – although TV still loves that stuff today.”

    Newspapers can do audio and video now, thanks to the web. What if a paper did a video segment of the day, along with a recap of news, done in a fresh and interesting way (no people standing around with mikes with cubes on them?) They might be able to tap into the pool of broadcast advertisers that TV gets.

    Ditto radio. Radio, in particular, may offer newspapers the ability to create content for the web that can be syndicated, perhaps even broadcast over the air.

    What if newspapers stopped competing with each other and started rattling the cage of TV and radio?

  52. #52 Hans Hermans
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 10:06 am

    Long story to prove nothing.

    What is said here about professional photographers can also be said about professional (writing) journalists. As everybody has a pen and a piece of paper and can be connected within seconds by phone to any newspaper or tv-station, people are where the news happens to be (with or without a camera). People can offer their news for free and sure many do. Has that been the demise of the professional journalist? No.

    Now it is up to Dan Gillmor to prove what the difference is between photojournalism and the journalism of reporters. I didn’t see any proof of a difference.

    After the demise of the brick-and-mortar store (happened 5 years ago), and the abolition of copyright (happened also a couple of years ago) now the demise of the professional photographer is about.

  53. #53 Dean
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 10:26 am

    Lisa Williams’ observation that newspaper web sites should do more to compete with radio and television is a good point. I might modify it though to say this:

    Newspaper web sites need to compete online, period. With radio and TV? I’m not sure.

    For one, radio, TV and newspapers really do cover some different turf if you really compare them head to head. A lot of similarities too, but each has gravitated to an area of expertise they alone can own. Think of how helicopters frequently become mainstays of TV spot news coverage, for example.

    But the web can become the great equalizer, and in fact newspapers – with vastly larger staffs – could easily become the major supplier of local news online. That they aren’t though suggests two things: management is too reliant on translating the print product to online, without really redefining what online can mean; and two, that there is a lack of revenue to seriously adapt a large staff to a new paradigm in technology.

    It’s more than a laptop and a modem and a point and shoot. It’s audio, video, editing, bandwidth, storage, software and online organization and presentation of new content. It’s who does the editing. It’s who creates the presentation.

    Newspapers are loathe to spend money on assets that have a two-year effective life. They create artificial barriers that prevent many veteran staffers from learning new technologies. They don’t fund curiosity or initiative. Newspapers are very formulaic where the web favors innovation.

    Newspaper editors really need to dig down into their ranks and encourage people to break out of templates, and re-imagine content. And find ways to bring imagination to online, rather than reshape imagination into the narrow funnel of the way we do business today.

  54. #54 Sean Carman
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 1:12 pm

    Nice article, although I tend to think these kinds of pieces generally over-estimate the impact of technology and the consequent decrease in demand for professional photojournalism. As you acknowledge, you’re only talking about one small slice of photojournalism — the spot news video or photograph. But that piece of the market has to some extent already been outsourced, to news and picture agencies. But even within that realm, your examples tend to undermine your argument. Zapruder was there with an 8mm camera, and yet his presence didn’t reduce the demand for spot news photos of the Kennedy assassination. If your thesis is correct, no other photos from the incident would have been published, but we know that wasn’t the case. In the end, citizen videos and photos have their own (sloppy, fuzzy, weirdly composed) sensibility. The demand for that aesthetic will always be limited to the snap photo of the not-usually-seen moment. Yet there will, also, always be a demand for an artful journalistic photo, even of the same event or moment in time. One last word: as someone who has practiced “citizen journalism” myself, let me say something about it: It comes with extreme limitations. It can’t substitute for the real thing. There’s a reason professional journalists can make a living at what they do: they have a unique set of skills that ordinary citizens don’t possess, and that are worth paying for.

  55. #55 Dean Hoffmeyer
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 1:41 pm

    Interesting, compelling and visual stories will continue to be told, and valued. Any suggestion otherwise underestimates the intelligence of the public. But when a reader looks at a magazine, website or newspaper and thinks, “I could have shot that picture,” we as professional photojournalists are hastening our own demise.

  56. #56 mobileforum
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 7:39 pm

    Help Yahoo and Reuters make more money off you…

  57. #57 David Friend
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 7:43 pm

    Dan Gillmor rightly points out: “Suppose [those trapped in the towers on 9/11] had been sending videos of what was going on inside those buildings and planes to the rest of us? The day’s events would go into history with even grimmer — and even more human — detail.”

    The first person I know to have shared this sentiment was the former editor of Paris Match, Alain Genestar. In my new book, Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11 (in which I actually quote none other than Internet sage Dan Gillmor), the following observation appears (page 217): “Alain Genestar … would insist in 2006: ‘If 9/11 had happened today, the people inside [the towers] would have taken photographs on their cell phones, from inside, and sent the pictures out [over the Internet].”

    For me, the power of Dan Gillmor’s insightful essay is his ability to imagine our technology in Zapruder’s age. (For more on this, see:

  58. #58 FotoWarung » Blog Archive » The Demise of the Professional Photojournalist
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    […] more. […]

  59. #59 Lisa Williams
    on Dec 8th, 2006 at 10:07 am

    Dean: you make a good point about the difficulty of learning even the basics of editing video and audio. I remember making my first halting web videos, and staring dumbly at Audacity.

    The thing you envision is, well, expensive: a big professional staff of “multimedia professionals” that are going to stay on top of things. Yes, that’s a lot more expensive than a laptop and a digital camera that takes short video clips.

    I say this with a wink, but maybe we should think of keeping reporters current with the average 15 year old — able to use the stuff the average teenager can get off the shelf at Best Buy, and able to do interesting things with that.

    A paper may or may not have a multimedia department to do stuff like the really wonderful slideshows and videos at the NYT, but some coverage might be enhanced by elements produced with much less formality and cost. Not every story is big, and not every story requires a big production. But low cost tools — hardware and software — may be a way to increase the average quality of the bread-and-butter coverage, particularly outside major metro dailies. I’m more interested in how these everyday technologies — cameras, cell phones, the web, participation from nonjournalists — affect everyday coverage: football games, school committee, Town Fair.

    Outside the major metros, these technologies might (might) be able to restore some of the levels of service that those communities had decades ago, where the paper was much more central to the community and much more effective in connecting residents to each other (a very important non-news-gathering aspect of papers).

  60. #60 David Clifford
    on Dec 8th, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    sobre fotojornalismo e nuvens negras pela frente…

    (…) e só se fala de crise…
    sobre o início de um possível fim, do advento do jornalismo do cidadão até à ‘democratização’ da fotografia e cameras digitais, um post um pouco negro sobre o futuro da profissão. é uma sugestão de leitura e reflexão, embora pouco optimista, mas oportuna. o link (alguns comments são interessantes também).

    Center for Citizen Media: Blog » Blog Archive » The Demise of the Professional Photojournalist:
    The pros who deal in breaking news have a problem. (..)

  61. #61 Doug Blane
    on Dec 10th, 2006 at 3:02 pm

    Doug Blane’s quotation on “Viral Marketing for Photographers” in Scoopt press release

    “As a photographer, I find that Flickr is a valuable viral marketing resource for low-resolution samples of my pictures. (There is no point in making high-resolution electronic images freely available over the internet if your business is all about selling pictures.)”

    “I am not interested in selling my pictures directly to publishers as this takes up too much of my time, especially when they are inevitably late paying my invoices. I would much rather leave this to a specialist third-party such as Scoopt, therefore freeing up my time to take more pictures. I am however willing to spend time on marketing myself and my stock pictures as this generates sales and further work.”

    “If the picture editor can’t see my pictures, they won’t know that they exist and therefore won’t use them. Viral marketing techniques enable my pictures to be seen. Photo-sharing sites such as Flickr allow me to market my pictures to the world’s media instantly and automatically.”

    “The use of integrated RSS (Really Simple Syndication) websites allows low resolution samples of my pictures to be automatically distributed, not just on the Flickr web site, but by any website in the world that has RSS & API integration. My web site is also RSS enabled, therefore allowing seamless integration to any other RSS module worldwide as well as seamless integration from my Flickr account to my web site. This allows me to host & manage my pictures centrally on one web server.”

    “By keywording/tagging my pictures with the word ‘Scoopt’ and joining all relevant Flickr groups, I am able to market my work worldwide and direct any sales to the professional team at Scoopt.”

    Doug Blane is planning to write a book on ‘Viral marketing for photographers’ where he explains methods of using the internet to help improve picture sales.

  62. #62 Information Law Possum » Blog Archive » Law & Emotion of Earthquakes
    on Dec 11th, 2006 at 2:13 am

    […] P.S. A quick scan of the blog posts on the topic of the man-made earthquake has revealed that most bloggers rather seem to act as news brokers than as citizen journalists (or eye-witnesses, depending on your standpoint). […]

  63. #63 CGB
    on Dec 11th, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    The “demise” is being fed by companies like Gannett. For example, in New Jersey, a state where more than half of the daily newspapers are owned by that company, all new photo positions are to be “entry level” with a starting pay in the sub 20K range, . . . and you need to have two years video experience, to live on that pay in this state, you’ll also have to be getting food stamps and other government hand outs.
    No one can afford to raise a family and be a PJ, the bottom-line companies like Gannett know they can eat-up kids just out of college; as soon as they wise up, another class is graduating. Also to blame are photographer factories like Brooks – students get big heads but not business education. Bad for any one trying to live as a PJ.

  64. #64 Jay Fitzgerald
    on Dec 11th, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    Reminds me of the monkeys on typewriters argument. Most people can not reliably take a sharp photograph. Yes, amateurs occasionally get lucky and take a good photograph. I really don’t see how professional photo-journalists can disappear before profressional journalists do. If blogs push out the professional journalists, the professions photo-journalists go to. It takes far less equiment to write than to reliably take high photographs. As long as there is a market for high quality journalism done by profressionals, there will be professional photo-journalists.

  65. #65 Nate
    on Dec 11th, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    Em said: “It’s interesting to note that CCD imaging chips seem to be showing some kind of Moore-type law. Combined with a proper lens, this means that we’ll have extremely high resolution extremely cheaply. Hell, 10 years from now a camera phone might deliver enough resolution to allow us to look into someone’s pores later. So Gilmore’s trend described above seems inevitable.” I’d have to disagree with that, because the camera makers cannot shrink the photons. So, holding the size of the camera constant (for now), higher resolution means more pixels packed in the same space. This leads to more noise. “The size of the pixels in the electronic sensor are directly related to the signal-to-noise in the image produced by the camera. Larger pixels are better.” Larger is better?? Travesty! Well, in digital camera sensors it’s true. To get the same quality image from a higher megapixel count, you would need a bigger sensor, which not only leads to a larger camera, but is more expensive to manufacture and also gets harder and harder to make without flaws as you go up in size. We’re already at the point where you can find similar models from the same manufacturer, where the cheaper, lower-MP version will actually take better pictures most of the time because it has the same optics and sensor, with bigger pixels. So you will not be seeing 24 megapixel camera phones, ever. Sorry if this doesn’t look right, there’s no preview and I’m not familiar with this forum.

  66. #66 Dan
    on Dec 11th, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    With this proliferation of camera phones and such we should be getting some great shots of UFOs now! But where are they? Is the government mysteriously filtering with EMI-producing jammers, our attempts at filming alien autopsies, etc?

  67. #67 jeff
    on Dec 11th, 2006 at 7:47 pm

    So if you’re not a citizen (e.g you’re “illegal”) what is your media called? I dislike the term “citizen media”….

  68. #68 Ken Tidwell
    on Dec 11th, 2006 at 8:40 pm

    Nate’s comments (#65) are cached in terms of what is already out-dated digital photography and related terms.

    Cameras are available now that can detect and map out dust and or defects in the lens. Soon we will see cameras where each pixel will have its’ own light meter. As well, we are headed for device-independent imagery.

    All of this means that the rule ‘o thumb we’ve become so comfortable with, the mega pixel, is already on the way out. Yes, we will easily, and soon, eclipse 24mp for mobile phones, etc., but not in terms that are being tossed about today.

  69. #69 Nathan Mcginty
    on Dec 11th, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    Not to completely dismiss photojournalists – but what they’re paid to do is to be where the news happens. Then they take pictures. There are some talented professionals out there. But even they don’t always get it right. Take a look at the Robert Capa first photograph of D-Day. I know it “conveys” the feeling of what was happening at the time with it’s blurriness and lack of center, but if you were to show that picture to someone who had no idea what “D-Day” was and ask them if they thought it was a “great photojournalism” picture, I don’t think they’d agree. I think that anyone with half a brain could have taken just as “great” of a picture if they’d just arrived on the beach at D-Day. Compare that with the picture of the London Subway bombing and tell me which one was taken by the “professional” photographer.

    As far as breaking news nowadays is concerned – the first photo taken there is gonna win.

  70. #70 Mark Nottingham
    on Dec 11th, 2006 at 10:34 pm

    WRT your correction, you need to change the title of this article to really correct it; it’s not a minor difference, and such a misleading title will only fuel the wrong impression for people who scan and move on.

  71. #71 Tim UK
    on Dec 12th, 2006 at 2:54 am

    Nathan McGinty needs to read some history books. Capa’s D-Day was one of a very few viable images that survived after a lab tech cooked the films in overheated developer in the darkroom and destroyed most of the pictures that were taken.

    It IS a great picture. Consider the circumstances! Anyone with half a brain indeed. Perhaps the most idiotic comment among many here today.

  72. #72 sonny mason
    on Dec 12th, 2006 at 5:15 am

    A demise? I’m compelled by the title of the post to explore it? Why? Well for one I’m an aspiring video/journalist. I’ve been in love with the art form for years, though I have no catalogue of my own to bost, or even a camera for that matter. Truthfully, I’m only recntly begining to grasp the true sigifigance of the whole digital revolution. Needless to say, I am no professional and at best just liesurly strolling along the path of becoming one. So upon being comfronted, along my stroll, with this stark prediction, from someone who seems to be a respected voice of the field, I had to say I was a bitten taken back by it, and my usually hyperctive “next link clicker” froze up on me as my eyes began to stroll thorugh the comments of this post; very informative and very valuable to someone like myself who has, by way of resources, very little save for the all too important, not to be taken for granted, virtual universe of “all” knowledge at my fingertip. Other than that what I do have is a lifetime of priceless visions. My visions come from, are about, and expand beyond a place full of life stories that are begging to be heard and begging for a voice to tell them, and which have been all too often untold, and when so they are in a way that serves no justice to the characters they speak for. They other day a man was slain in my niehborhood and his tragic death made the front page of the daily newspaper only for it to be said about him that he was a convicted drug dealer, possibly a gang member, and to add insult to injury, the unnesessary implication that his death was possibly the result of him being a police witness (a snitch), and all this in plain view to give his grieving grandmother one more thing to remember her son by and to introduce him to thousands of other readers and community people for the first time, as a lowlife his death means nothing to the media except as more shocking content to help sell thier paper. There was ample mention of the police and thier investigation as compared to just a mere mention of his grieving mother and kids. This is typical from my local newspaper, so what did surprise me and always does is that I almost never hear of any complaints from the families of these peolpe who’s lives ang legacies get slandered and exploited or the voices of any outraged political activists. I give you all this to say, first of all my views are not diliberately biased by any political, social, or cultural affiliations. Still I see the general media establishments disregard for the disadvanted communites of people who’s lives they exploit as a major social issue in this country. So any type of influntial power taken away from the media and placed back in the hands of the people is far more a pro than a con and the most signifant pro may be the potential that these popultions will now have to foster movemnts of social change. As far as the role of the journalists, this situatin does not take away from the skill, dedication, obsession even, and importance involved with the work of a video journalists, and on the contrary these movemenst of social chang will open up a new oppurtunity for the professional to step out of their associate positions in the corporate world and back into the trenches to be leaders these revolutions. To be a professional there is special quality involved that lies in the professional’s role as a storyteller, effective communicater of ideas, it’s reponsibilty to be a voice fro those who dont have one, it’s power to incite and inspire the human spirit for it to be harnessed and mobilized into action. For there is no need to travel 3,000 miles to catch a breaking story about a war on the other side of the world, because we have plenty of them going on right in our own backyards, in the inner-cities of America, or is this not even news to anyone anymore?

  73. #73 Nate
    on Dec 12th, 2006 at 8:07 am

    Ken, do you have links with more information on this subject?

  74. #74 Robert
    on Dec 12th, 2006 at 8:44 am


    Ninth paragraph:

    Best Regards,
    Robert W. Hart

  75. #75 Is Photojournalism a bad career path? | Clickstreams
    on Dec 12th, 2006 at 9:19 am

    […] Dan Gillmor makes the observation that the increasing prevalence of cameras and video cameras in the hands of the public will result in the decline of photojournalism as a profession, but without any loss in quality or quantity – if anything, there will be an improvement. […]

  76. #76 The Jenneralist » Oldest Person Dies, Ageless Turtles, Arctic Species - We Only Just Met, Pet Tigers, Goodbye Photojournalists and Librarians
    on Dec 12th, 2006 at 9:27 am

    […] The Decline of the Professional Photojournalist or Location Location Location […]

  77. #77 InfoWhirl » Blog Archive » Center for Citizen Media: Blog » Blog Archive » The Decline (and Maybe Demise) of the Professional Photojournalist
    on Dec 12th, 2006 at 11:24 am

    […] Center for Citizen Media: Blog » Blog Archive » The Decline (and Maybe Demise) of the Professional Photojournalist The Decline (and Maybe Demise) of the Professional Photojournalist […]

  78. #78 Zeit Guy » From professional to citizen photo-journalism
    on Dec 12th, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    […] Read his post here. […]

  79. #79 Notes from a Teacher: Mark on Media » Opening the debate
    on Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:37 pm

    […] In it, Dennis lays out some of the forces at play on photojournalism, using the recent kerfuffle touched off by Dan Gillmor’s The Decline (and Maybe Demise) of the Professional Photojournalist. He goes beyond that and identifies nine areas that are effecting the trade: 1. Media consumption habits and a decreased demand for full-time photojournalists at the daily newspaper. 2. Media Consolidation 3. Digital Photography 4. Electronic photo manipulation 5. Wireless Internet 6. Citizen Journalism 7. Broadband Internet Access 8. Mini-digital video 9. Picture Editing […]

  80. #80 Gary Ell
    on Dec 13th, 2006 at 7:08 am

    Here is my viewpoint as a Pro Shooter and Educator:
    The Photography industry as we know it is collapsing. The Photojournalist is seeing reciprocity fallout from this metamorphic collapse.
    Just look at industry models; Kodak, Ilford, Agfa, etc.. The Quality companies, whom looked out for us Photographers are bowing to the conglomerates (just like the Mom & Pop stores bowed to Walmart)..

    Blame it all on Bill Gates and Walmart
    Ask the Pro’s represented by the Stock Photo agencies that Bill Gates and Corbis gobbled up; Their careers dissapeared to the demand of royalty free imagery. Like agency and advertising photographers for that matter; we cannot surive in the traditional roles that we have become accustomed to. Royalty Free, generic images are everywhere. Look at the ads… Uniquely created, specific to product images are out.. if it looks like stock; it is stock. You’ll probably see the same pics in all kinds of ads. Why? Because why pay me my day rate when Corbis will give you something of much lesser quality, but for next to nothing; or free for that matter. Like Walmart..
    And now.. (since Corbis changed the rules of the game..) Photographers are almost expected to give away their kidneys along with their copyrights.
    Go ahead and suck the blood from hands that are still gripping my camera..

    So what do Advertising and Agency Shooters do? They change careers, settle for lesser pay jobs; like stringing at their local papers, which is now being threatened..

    The over-abundance of amazingly qualified shooters is absurd and exorbitantly growing beyond comprehension. “Photography is fun and stuff ” so I hear; but there is not a market to support the already unemployed. I tell my college students not to expect to find jobs in this industry; only to learn, appreciate and enjoy photography for personal and family fullfillment.

  81. #81 scot hacker’s foobar blog » Decline of Professional Photojournalism
    on Dec 13th, 2006 at 11:13 am

    […] At the Center for Citizen Media, which is a department exploring concepts of citizen journalism at the Berkeley J-School, Dan Gillmor asks whether the ubiquity of hand-held / cell-phone video cameras is leading to a decline in professional photojournalism. He points to the famed Zapruder film as one the earliest and most famous examples of citizen journalism being picked up by mainstream media, and to a handful of other more recent examples. […]

  82. #82 Harro!
    on Dec 13th, 2006 at 11:50 pm

    Welcome to the new World of Community Journalism! :)

  83. #83 Nate
    on Dec 18th, 2006 at 8:49 am

    Thanks Robert, but I was looking for more info about post #68.

  84. #84 Zeit Guy
    on Dec 18th, 2006 at 3:27 pm

    […] Read his post here. […]

  85. #85 M
    on Dec 18th, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    I think Dan Gillmor needs to wake up and smell the coffee.I am repsonding in this unprofessional manner as this is what I consider citizen journalism to be. Calling a blogger a journalist is like calling anyone who takes a photograph a photojournalist.Opps, Seems like I have completely missed the point!
    Check out Sccopt( There you will find the ‘products’ of citizen journalsim par excellance in the gallery section. Perhaps Mr. Gillmor should take a closer look at sites of this nature before he says another single word.

  86. #86 greg
    on Dec 19th, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    are you suggesting that we should judge the mainstream media by News of the World and the National Enquirer, just because they’re printed on paper and distributed to supermarkets and newsstands just like the New York Times and USA Today?

  87. #87 | Fotografía Profesional | Tutoriales | Noticias| Eventos | Lanzamientos | » Blog Archive » La Fotografia esta muerta
    on Dec 21st, 2006 at 8:30 am

    […] Vean el articulo: La Demisa del Profesional Fotográfico RSS 2.0 […]

  88. #88 Thoughts from a Bohemian » Blog Archive » No professional editors needed.
    on Dec 28th, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    […] If this job is too much work, than give it to someone who really cares and will look for the best image. and then explain to the bean counters why this image or this story cost more than this one. or just put links to Flickr and go home. After all, you cost money too, and for what? Crowdsourcing and Prosumming can do the job you do these days . For free. After all, much is said about the Citizen photojournalist ( see London bombing), but the Citizen Photo editor is not far. You just post the wire service feed on your site every day, ask viewers to select their favorite image and by the end of the day, you have your selection. At the end of the week , you have the best images of the week and by years end, something like “The best images of the year”. No professional editors needed. […]

  89. #89 The Decline of Photojournalism |
    on Dec 30th, 2006 at 8:07 am

    […] Dan Gillmor makes the observation that the increasing prevalence of cameras and video cameras in the hands of the public will result in the decline of photojournalism as a profession, but without any loss in quality or quantity – if anything, there will be an improvement. […]

  90. #90 Matthew Brown
    on Jan 3rd, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    Ken Tidwell (#68) asserts that revolutionary new technology will overcome the limits of current imaging. I’m sure in some ways it will, but there are still fundamental, physical limitations. Light is transmitted in discrete photons, and you only get so many of them. No matter what the imager technology, that isn’t going to change. As sensor elements get smaller, the maximum number of photons they can capture for a given exposure goes down and random noise gets higher.

    Yes, there is still plenty of scope for improvement, both in making sure as many of those photons get sensed and as few as possible wasted, and in reducing noise closer to its theoretical minimum, but it is a case of diminishing returns. Greater sales volume allows R&D costs to be amortized against more units and thus permits greater R&D spending and/or lower prices, and with the increasing popularity of digital imaging this is of course happening, but I see the trend of the past ten years (slow but steady drop in price, slow but steady increase in sensor resolution and quality) to continue as before.

    The other issue is that sensors aren’t the only issue limiting the size and quality of cellphone cameras and the like. The data transfer rate limitations of the network are probably a bigger and more important ceiling. The fact is, it’s going to take a while to transfer the 3 megabyte images from a 10 megapixel cellphone camera, and while the cellphone companies are trying to increase their data rates, it’s expensive and difficult. It’s also not the easiest thing in the world to have a cellphone camera lens that provides the kind of quality worth spending ten megapixels on. Again, they’re working on it (liquid lenses and the like), but I’m not sure how quick that’s going to be.

  91. #91 Notes from a Teacher: Mark on Media » The cameraed-up score
    on Jan 6th, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    […] All this adds weight to the point that Dan Gillmor made in his much-discussed and much-dissed post The Decline (and Maybe Demise) of the Professional Photojournalist, that when it comes to breaking news, the citizens are going to repeatedly beat the pros simply because they are there and they’re cameraed-up. […]

  92. #92 Itty-bitty photo blog » Blog Archive
    on Feb 25th, 2007 at 11:14 am

    […] Photojournalism is in trouble, that is what Dan Gilmore argues in his blog found at the Center for Citizen Media. This entry is entitled “The Decline (and Maybe Demise) of the Professional Photojournalist.” […]

  93. #93 Did you see my cell phone video on YouTube and the news tonight? « Richard Farrell
    on Mar 1st, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    […] Read his post here. […]

  94. #94 Tipitina
    on Mar 17th, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    What a fantastic article to help us realize how much our media and information landscape has changed, especially in the five short years since 9/11 …

  95. #95 The Decline of the Professional Journalist » s h u t t e r c h i c k
    on Mar 30th, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    […] Gillmor at Center for Citizen Media posted an article on 12/4/06 about the impact of amateur and cell phone photography on professional […]

  96. #96 Will Cell Phones Be The End of Live Trucks? | Verge New Media
    on Apr 10th, 2007 at 8:31 am

    […] capture moments of both significance and the mundane. The London terrorist bombings of July 2005, highlight the use of phones as ubiquitous newsgathering […]

  97. #97 Usko järkeen
    on Apr 15th, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    […] pro’s have still a place in this environment? At least Dan Gillmore believes that the answer is no: The pros who deal in breaking news have a problem. They can’t possibly compete in the […]

  98. #98 Citizen snappers and the professional photojournalist «
    on Apr 30th, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    […] December 10, 2006 Posted by Alfred Hermida in citizen journalism. trackback There has been a flurry of debate on whether the launch of Yahoo’s citizen journalism portal, You Witness news spells the end […]

  99. #99 Musik und Filme Downloaden - Schnell, Sicher & Gratis
    on Jul 28th, 2007 at 8:34 am

    Gratis Musik und Filme downloaden…

    Dort sind die 3 bekanntesten Usenet Anbieter im deutschsprachigen Raum aufgelistet…

  100. #100 Musik und Filme Downloaden - Schnell, Sicher & Anonym
    on Aug 2nd, 2007 at 7:23 am

    Wo kann man Filme downloaden…

    Eine Seite, die 3 Usenet Anbieter einmal vergleicht, mit denen man u.a. Musik & Filme downloaden kann, mit einigen GB sogar gratis….

  101. #101 Will Sullivan's Journerdism » High def YouTube; Professional photojournalists bite the dust; WSJ redesigns; Yahoo goes for citizen journalism; More on Gannett’s big changes
    on Aug 2nd, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    […] The Demise of the Professional Photojournalist “Remember, there was once a fairly healthy community of portrait painters. When photography came along, a lot of them had to find other work; or at least their ranks were not refilled when they retired. Professional portrait photographers, similarly, are less in demand today than a generation ago. But portraits have survived — and thrived.” … “The photojournalist’s job may be history before long. But photojournalism has never been more important, or more widespread.” (Via Mr. Weiss) […]

  102. #102 Sohbet
    on Apr 27th, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Interesting, compelling and visual stories will continue to be told, and valued. Any suggestion otherwise underestimates the intelligence of the public. But when a reader looks at a magazine, website or newspaper and thinks, “I could have shot that picture,” we as professional photojournalists are hastening our own demise.

  103. #103 New Media Rocks (the boat) « massrapid
    on May 4th, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    […] New Media Rocks (the boat) Posted in General by massrapid on May 4th, 2008 The Decline (and Maybe Demise) of the Professional Photojournalist […]

  104. #104 myanmarforce
    on Sep 13th, 2008 at 2:28 am

    […] 39 million people could be found on any given night sleeping on the greasy concourse floors… The Demise of the Professional Photojournalist – CitMedia, December 4, 2006 Thai Glow Energy to expand power capacity – Reuters, December 5, 2006 […]