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Practicing Journalists Required to Provide Photographs with Stories

What have the effects been on you as a working journalist (not a photojournalist) with the added requirement to provide photographs to supplement your stories when reporting where a professional photographer may have been used in the past?


More and more is being asked of reporters. Now, in addition to producing stories every week, reporters are asked to be photographers, Web designers, bloggers, podcast creators and video producers. Media organizations don't want to look like they are behind the technology trends. So, in addition to offering news, they fill their Web sites with blogs and slideshows and video clips and Twitter threads. I'm not sure anyone even knows if all these things add to people's news experience or knowledge. How many people really explore all those versions of a story?

Of course, even if all these things are extremely important, it's a bit absurd to ask one person to be a skilled reporter and writer as well as a photographer and video producer. As a reporter, it's not easy to be engaged with an interview subject and be recording what that person says, but, at the same time, be trying to get their picture.

Sure, reporters can push the buttons on a camera. Some might even be good photographers and be able to capture wonderful images. But I do think the stories get watered down when this happens. Reporters are expected to take the photos and do the reporting in the same amount of time it used to take them to only do the reporting. Something has to give.

I think this ignores the fact that photojournalists have skills. Some news organizations think they can just give every reporter a camera and that's as good as having a trained photojournalist. I find it annoying. Most bosses would never even consider having a "novice" report a story. They like to believe it takes a special kind of person with special skills to be a reporter. It's a bit ironic then to believe that anyone you hand a $100 automatic camera to would be able to be a photographer.

Yes. This also creates more work for the reporter. But I'm more frustrated by way things are being watered down. I'd prefer a society where people strive to do the best -- not one where everyone is asked to be mediocre.

It'd be one thing if news organizations trained reporters to be photographers. (I'd argue the majority still wouldn't come close to being as good as a professional photojournalist.) But it's just unacceptable to give reporters crappy cameras and just expect them to know what they are doing. Taking a look at most reporters' photos, you can see they clearly don't know what they are doing.

What’s perhaps most sad, though, is that I’m not sure the public really cares. Which is probably why bosses don’t put the extra money into having professionals take photos.

It is much more work these days to be a journalist. But I do think there is a positive side to having to take your own pictures. It encourages reporters to really notice details. Sure, reporters should always be taking in everything. But having to take pictures in addition to gathering facts and interviews forces them to absorb everything. Composing pictures lets the reporter focus in on facial expressions, interesting juxtapositions, colors and textures, scenes, all kinds of things that they then can work into the reporting and writing. If photography helps people see the world better, it can also help reporters see their story better. And that can result in better stories.