Welcome To The ‘Tin Age’ Of Photojournalism

Not long ago a fellow blogger was trying to dispel the notion of the death of photography, so I felt compelled to engage in a dialog that it was not the death of photography but of photojournalism.

Camera phones, Flip cameras and computers with cameras installed have caused a great democratization in the world of photography. Little happens in the word these days that isn’t recorded on a smart phone and then posted to a social-networking site.

In that respect, we have reached a time when more imagery is available than ever before. And the appetite for that imagery is greater than ever before. And the intellectual property piracy is greater than ever before.

The sad truth is that many website producers think nothing of plucking images off the Internet and using them without permission.  The copyright police don’t stand a chance. Plus, the laws cross state and international boundaries, so as a result it is a jurisdictional nightmare

But what really is lost is the greatness of the best photojournalist. What we lose in the quality of the great practitioners of the craft we gain in the speed at which a cellphone image or video can be transmitted and posted to the Web.

Quality be damned, we’ve got an image. And as consumers of content we all buy into this mentality to some extent.

If you are one that believes in the Golden Age of anything, then I would propose that we have embarked on the “Tin Age” of photojournalism. Perhaps the Tin Age for all of journalism.

The paradox is that while there are more outlets for great documentary work to be shown, fewer and fewer of the top photojournalism can afford to make a living at their craft. Newspapers have cut staffs like they used to cut clear cut forests to print their rags, and magazines are no better.

Bloggers and citizen journalists have blurred the line between reporting by trusted and authoritative sources and stories that are created by writers working with a political agenda. Here again, bloggers are everywhere, so nothing goes undocumented. And as with photography, the bounty of information is greater than ever before.

But how many reputations will have to be demolished by inaccurate reporting before the tide will turn

Again, I offer you the Tin Age of photojournalism. Enjoy!


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