A photojournalist’s lament

A photojournalist suggests that the field is dead – and writers are next.

Photo director Neil Burgess writes:

“Magazines and newspapers are no longer putting any money into
photojournalism. They will commission a portrait or two. They might
send a photographer off with a writer to illustrate the writer’s story,
but they no longer fund photojournalism. They no longer fund
photo-reportage. They only fund photo illustration.

“We should stop talking about photojournalists altogether. Apart
from a few old dinosaurs whose contracts are so long and retirement so
close that it’s cheaper to keep them on, there is no journalism
organisation funding photographers to act as reporters. A few are kept
on to help provide ‘illustration’ and decorative visual work, but there
is simply no visual journalism or reportage being supported by so called news organisations.”

He adds:

“Sure, there may always be the need for specialist sports photographers, portraitists, fashion photographers and a news guy to smudge the President when he shows up to a press conference, but what about the guys who produce stories, who cover issues rather than events? Newspapers and magazines don’t employ them anymore.

“Should we care? Well yes we should. The other photographers cover events which are organised by someone else; events arranged by spin-doctors, PR agents, press secretaries, advertising and marketing executives. Looking at all news and current affairs these days it’s so obvious that what you are seeing or reading is regurgitated information fed to the news organisation by someone else’s press department.

“The photojournalists were the first to go, but once the destruction of the printed media business model is complete and still no-one has come up with a new one, then the writers will have to go as well. So we’ll end up with a couple of sub-editors re-phrasing press-releases and dropping in supplied photos. Hell, that’s happening already!

“I believe we owe it to our children to tell them that the profession of ‘photojournalist’ no longer exists. There are thousands of the poor bastards, creating massive debt for themselves hoping to graduate and get a job which no-one is prepared to pay for anymore.”