Photos not allowed

ajc bill campbellThere’s undoubtedly some sound business rationale behind the AJC’s decision to eliminate nearly half of its photo staff.

Everybody and their dog is carrying a camera these days.  The most talked-about images — the ones that are “trending” — tend to be self-shot.  Or from surveillance video.  Or from paparazzi stalking celebs.

Used to be that compelling photos helped to sell newspapers.  We all know how that’s trending.

So the AJC is saying that photos don’t matter as much as they used to, which means that it’s all but giving up on an essential element of newsgathering.

When history documents events, the photos often record the emotion of the moment.  The press photographer records scenes, while writers gather information that often overlook the broader scenery — or the isolated moments within.

When the AJC’s Joey Ivansco recorded the scrum that surrounded former Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell’s March 2006 conviction in the above photo — which I saved for obvious reasons — I had no clue that the side image was remotely compelling.  The photo shows energy (and maybe a bit of confusion), contrasting the almost serene image of the mayor calmly listening to an undoubtedly convoluted question from yours truly.

The AJC ran the photo across the entire front page.  This weekend, a former AJC photog told me that there’s now an edict against such prominent photo placement.

Now, the AJC can continue to rely on reporters to competently shoot photos that aren’t especially challenging.  The newspaper can do screen-grabs of WSB-TV footage.  Thank goodness WSB isn’t thinning its photographer ranks.

And there’s always the stuff submitted from readers, nearly all of whom are carrying cameras these days.

But it doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing.

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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

6 thoughts on “Photos not allowed

  1. live apt fire Post author

    On the plus side, read the piece in Sunday’s paper by Bill Rankin and Shannon McCaffrey about how federal judges in Georgia routinely dismiss sexual harassment cases! Nice work, yo!

    Reply
  2. stevedec

    AJC has not had copy editors for some time. Witness incorrect headline in Sunday’s travel section and gross typo in today’s Metro about street “sings”.

    Reply
  3. Jim Dean

    I recall a discussion at a training course for new photographers that I helped out with a few years back.
    The instructor asked the students what purpose they sought to serve when they shot a news photo…what their goal was.
    Answers ranged from “I want to capture something vibrant and dynamic” to “I want to capture a single image that tells you absolutely everything you need to know about the event”.
    Then he asked me. “I want to capture your attention immediately, and do it so that you KNOW you have no choice other than to dig out fifty cents and drop it in the machine to find out what the hell that picture is all about.”
    The sad truth is that this as a paid profession is dying fast. It’s happening in TV as well. How many times during a nightly newscast do your folks solicit images or video? If you give your news director two clips, one shot from a somewhat shaky phone showing a car getting washed away in a flood, the other a rock steady edited clip of shots of the now dry creek bed, we both know which one’s going on air. People would rather see shaky video of the actual even than great video of the empty street an hour later.
    In my mind, there is still a need for good photojournalism, and some shoots simply can’t be done well enough to make the cut by someone who doesn’t really know their stuff. But breaking news stuff? Look for more and more phone video and less and less empty street after the fact video. I

    Reply
  4. Redrum Jones

    Um, people still read the AJC? The bias did my subscription in years ago. Though we do make fun of it every now and then in the Monday morning meetings.

    Reply
  5. wheresthenews

    Whats surprising about this? the AJC gave up news gathering several years back. But you can always find out the latest on Kim and Kanye. The AJC is pathetic and the Kennedy’s should just take it out back and shoot it..rather than continue to disgrace what was once a respected institution….

    Reply

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