There’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.