Don't cry for journalists…

Look at this photo from the Olympics. I count about 75 photographers, each decked out with a $9,000 (or more expensive) camera and lens (and most of them are carrying several cameras).

This is in a year when tons of journalists are getting laid off.

This is in a year when there are tons of stories around the world that aren’t getting reported on.

Could we take half of those photographers and send them to Russia, for instance?

Or, Somalia?

Or, New Orleans?

Or Iran?

Or Congress?

You’re telling me that 67 of the world’s most expensive photojournalists are needed to make pictures of a sporting event and that they couldn’t be better used somewhere else?

OK, let’s say you’re correct. Well, then, don’t ask me to cry when your jobs go away because your business model is being disrupted. Don’t ask me to cry when a gossip magazine breaks a story that you should have. Don’t ask me to cry when Huffington Post gets more page views than your Olympics photos do.

Comments

  1. That’s nothing, you should see how many cameras are on the sidelines at an NFL game on any given sunday :-)

  2. Why are they all wearing the “Daily Show Fishing Vest”?

    Another thing – they aren’t “our photojournalist” resources. Since when did photographers become socialized?

    Love it, hate it – it’s a simple equation at play here. The Market for Olympic photos is throwing off way more cash than the market for Somalia photos.

    that is – until they discover oil there and we invade.

  3. Unfortunately our society is not run by a brain, or a conscience, but by market forces, and this is what the market dictates…

  4. Why are they all wearing the “Daily Show Fishing Vest”?

    Another thing – they aren’t “our photojournalist” resources. Since when did photographers become socialized?

    Love it, hate it – it’s a simple equation at play here. The Market for Olympic photos is throwing off way more cash than the market for Somalia photos.

    that is – until they discover oil there and we invade.

  5. Unfortunately our society is not run by a brain, or a conscience, but by market forces, and this is what the market dictates…

  6. Is that really fair? That’s well under one per nation there, and this is a pretty unusual event. You can’t expect the Russian media to trust the American media to take all the photos they want of their athletes, and vice versa.

  7. Is that really fair? That’s well under one per nation there, and this is a pretty unusual event. You can’t expect the Russian media to trust the American media to take all the photos they want of their athletes, and vice versa.

  8. I’d love to be able to see the contact sheets for that entire group… 10,000 shots of Michael Phelps all from the same angle… amazing productivity.

  9. So in your mind a photographer == a journalist? Whatever. You’ve been on some sort of soapbox now for the last few posts and it’s really getting old. Who cares? If you really feel strongly about it, then YOU’D head to Tblisi, but you don’t, you’re going to sit in your comfy chair and blog the world to death. Yaaawwwwwnnnnn.

  10. So in your mind a photographer == a journalist? Whatever. You’ve been on some sort of soapbox now for the last few posts and it’s really getting old. Who cares? If you really feel strongly about it, then YOU’D head to Tblisi, but you don’t, you’re going to sit in your comfy chair and blog the world to death. Yaaawwwwwnnnnn.

  11. I bet that just behind that wall of high priced glass a kid with a cell phone is snapping the most compelling shot in the arena.

  12. I agree with ceejayoz. IIRC there are 211 nations competing in the Olympics, so odds are that the majority of photojournalists in that photo aren’t “ours” to send wherever we (or you) would like.

  13. I agree with ceejayoz. IIRC there are 211 nations competing in the Olympics, so odds are that the majority of photojournalists in that photo aren’t “ours” to send wherever we (or you) would like.

  14. So what?: you’re absolutely right. Read my next post about how we get the journalism we ask for by paying our attention on things. Me? I’d rather watch sports.

  15. So what?: you’re absolutely right. Read my next post about how we get the journalism we ask for by paying our attention on things. Me? I’d rather watch sports.

  16. Haha. Is this a serious post? Are you really serious? Wouldn’t these photojournalists represent the media from all over the world, not just the United States? Don’t you think that most papers/agencies that would send photographers to the Olympics are exactly the same companies that ALSO cover politics and warzones? And do you REALLY think that Huffington Post is getting more pv’s than Olympic photo galleries?

    I’ll agree with you 100% if you want to argue that sports and entertainment get WAY too much attention from the media and the general public. I hate it, but it is what a lot of people want and it’s paying the bills for a lot of media companies. And the money that Reuters and the Associated Press and Getty Images are getting from their Olympics coverage helps pay to send their other people to cover war zones and New Orleans.

    So yeah. Cry for those journalists who are getting laid off. Because I’ll tell you what, they’re not the ones taking pictures on the red carpet.

    -Jeff

    ps. While the cameras aren’t cheap (typically about half of what you claim), the big price tag in that photo goes to the lenses. Many of those lenses could very well be loaners from Canon or Nikon. I’ll be borrowing one or two at the Conventions in the next couple weeks.

  17. Haha. Is this a serious post? Are you really serious? Wouldn’t these photojournalists represent the media from all over the world, not just the United States? Don’t you think that most papers/agencies that would send photographers to the Olympics are exactly the same companies that ALSO cover politics and warzones? And do you REALLY think that Huffington Post is getting more pv’s than Olympic photo galleries?

    I’ll agree with you 100% if you want to argue that sports and entertainment get WAY too much attention from the media and the general public. I hate it, but it is what a lot of people want and it’s paying the bills for a lot of media companies. And the money that Reuters and the Associated Press and Getty Images are getting from their Olympics coverage helps pay to send their other people to cover war zones and New Orleans.

    So yeah. Cry for those journalists who are getting laid off. Because I’ll tell you what, they’re not the ones taking pictures on the red carpet.

    -Jeff

    ps. While the cameras aren’t cheap (typically about half of what you claim), the big price tag in that photo goes to the lenses. Many of those lenses could very well be loaners from Canon or Nikon. I’ll be borrowing one or two at the Conventions in the next couple weeks.

  18. Yes, it would be better to have 1 American photographer who could sell the photographs to the other 203 countries taking part in the Olympics.

    I can hardly believe that all 75 of the worlds professional photojournalists turned up for this single event!

  19. Yes, it would be better to have 1 American photographer who could sell the photographs to the other 203 countries taking part in the Olympics.

    I can hardly believe that all 75 of the worlds professional photojournalists turned up for this single event!

  20. Significance, Timing, Proximity, Prominence and Human Interest, that’s what makes news, if you recall such from freshman journalism class. There’s always tons of stories that don’t get reported, when’s the last time any news ever hit from South America or Africa, almost never. The market wins out, kick, scream, hold your breath till blue, but it won’t mean a thing.

    And those super expensive digital cameras are way less expensive than the old film infrastructure, so your rant is flawed on the economic argument alone, plus it’s faster, and far more convenient.

    Somalia? No one cares, and no one ever will, unless another Black Hawk Down-like event. Pitch to National Geographic for some boring spread. New Orleans? Old story, the same constant complaints, no action. Doesn’t make for good pictures either. Iran? You need to be a CIA agent to get good pictures there. They couldn’t even get decent shots of the Iranian satellite launch failure. Israel will provide the real Iranian pictures, all the smoldering city shots. Congress? Pictures don’t tell the political backroom stories. Besides, one or two Wash Post guys all you need, even so. Headshots of Congresspeople at press conferences, stop the world. The Michael Phelps story made the Olympics a big story again, tho still nowhere near the ‘Good vs. Evil’ 1980 USA vs. Soviet hockey team triumph.

  21. Significance, Timing, Proximity, Prominence and Human Interest, that’s what makes news, if you recall such from freshman journalism class. There’s always tons of stories that don’t get reported, when’s the last time any news ever hit from South America or Africa, almost never. The market wins out, kick, scream, hold your breath till blue, but it won’t mean a thing.

    And those super expensive digital cameras are way less expensive than the old film infrastructure, so your rant is flawed on the economic argument alone, plus it’s faster, and far more convenient.

    Somalia? No one cares, and no one ever will, unless another Black Hawk Down-like event. Pitch to National Geographic for some boring spread. New Orleans? Old story, the same constant complaints, no action. Doesn’t make for good pictures either. Iran? You need to be a CIA agent to get good pictures there. They couldn’t even get decent shots of the Iranian satellite launch failure. Israel will provide the real Iranian pictures, all the smoldering city shots. Congress? Pictures don’t tell the political backroom stories. Besides, one or two Wash Post guys all you need, even so. Headshots of Congresspeople at press conferences, stop the world. The Michael Phelps story made the Olympics a big story again, tho still nowhere near the ‘Good vs. Evil’ 1980 USA vs. Soviet hockey team triumph.

  22. While I applaud your effort to point out there are “more important stories” in the world…I am questioning why you’d take on photogs at the Olympics.

    With 204 countries, you’re still at less than half if each had a photographer there shooting the event.

    If you use pool photographers, everyone would be complaining that bloggers or others did not have the access and big media controls it all.

    If you are a major newspaper, for instance, you can’t ignore the Olympics and you can’t ignore the DNC or RNC coming up next week and the following week.

    I think you can argue the time spent covering the Olympics against the time spent cover the war or something, but counting Photogs doesn’t seem fair.

  23. While I applaud your effort to point out there are “more important stories” in the world…I am questioning why you’d take on photogs at the Olympics.

    With 204 countries, you’re still at less than half if each had a photographer there shooting the event.

    If you use pool photographers, everyone would be complaining that bloggers or others did not have the access and big media controls it all.

    If you are a major newspaper, for instance, you can’t ignore the Olympics and you can’t ignore the DNC or RNC coming up next week and the following week.

    I think you can argue the time spent covering the Olympics against the time spent cover the war or something, but counting Photogs doesn’t seem fair.

  24. Did you see the statistics on how many journos are going to the conventions?
    15,000!!! Imagine how many important local stories are being missed because 15,000 reporters need to report the same angle on the same event.

    Totally agree with you – it’s a bit of a waste. But the problem isn’t the individual reporters – they are acting as cogs in a machine. That machine (corporate) has determined that the end goal is to make money – so the least important cogs (the ones that would normally do investigative journalism) are being left behind. What stays in motion are these cogs.

  25. Did you see the statistics on how many journos are going to the conventions?
    15,000!!! Imagine how many important local stories are being missed because 15,000 reporters need to report the same angle on the same event.

    Totally agree with you – it’s a bit of a waste. But the problem isn’t the individual reporters – they are acting as cogs in a machine. That machine (corporate) has determined that the end goal is to make money – so the least important cogs (the ones that would normally do investigative journalism) are being left behind. What stays in motion are these cogs.

  26. Agree, you’ve got a strong point here… but would the US want to see the world through the lens of a foreign photographer? The same story can be told / filmed very differently. Anyway, yes I agree with you in general.

  27. Agree, you’ve got a strong point here… but would the US want to see the world through the lens of a foreign photographer? The same story can be told / filmed very differently. Anyway, yes I agree with you in general.

  28. Mmmmmm not everyone wants to got to warzones anymore. They shoot at the red cross, so forget photographers. And 75 photogs for a little event called THE OLYMPICS isn’t much really.

    Most news outlets don’t even have intl news bureaus anymore, much less money to expedite photogs to those zones unless its necessary. They rather not spend money and have citizens produce the news with crap they submit. Olympics=cash. Thus endeth the economics lesson.

    Don’t blame the photojournalists, they take what they can get. Blame the audience, the vapid, vacuous, brain dead short-attention…. yo back here… span philistines who would rather know about Lohan’s lesbian romance than know what’s going on in Georgia. Most people are dumbshits as proof I give you:

    http://failblog.org/2008/08/19/geography-fail/

    As a photog I wouldn’t pass up the chance to go take pictures at the Olympics even though I’m no big sports fan. But as a photojournalist I’d also LOVE to go to all sorts of places to take pictures of world events. But who’s gonna pay for that? You? The audience pays for it in the end. They get what they want or the supplier goes out of business. People like crap and crap they get.

    How many Flickr members that are idolized simply because they are cute girls flaunting themselves? A lot, because most people aren’t into great photography, they just want to see boobs or even just the promise of boobs.

  29. Mmmmmm not everyone wants to got to warzones anymore. They shoot at the red cross, so forget photographers. And 75 photogs for a little event called THE OLYMPICS isn’t much really.

    Most news outlets don’t even have intl news bureaus anymore, much less money to expedite photogs to those zones unless its necessary. They rather not spend money and have citizens produce the news with crap they submit. Olympics=cash. Thus endeth the economics lesson.

    Don’t blame the photojournalists, they take what they can get. Blame the audience, the vapid, vacuous, brain dead short-attention…. yo back here… span philistines who would rather know about Lohan’s lesbian romance than know what’s going on in Georgia. Most people are dumbshits as proof I give you:

    http://failblog.org/2008/08/19/geography-fail/

    As a photog I wouldn’t pass up the chance to go take pictures at the Olympics even though I’m no big sports fan. But as a photojournalist I’d also LOVE to go to all sorts of places to take pictures of world events. But who’s gonna pay for that? You? The audience pays for it in the end. They get what they want or the supplier goes out of business. People like crap and crap they get.

    How many Flickr members that are idolized simply because they are cute girls flaunting themselves? A lot, because most people aren’t into great photography, they just want to see boobs or even just the promise of boobs.

  30. I don’t think that’s a very fair post. This is the OLYMPICS, not some county fair. So if there’s 75 journalists, they probably represent 40+ different countries. So is this really excessive when considering the scale of the event?

  31. I don’t think that’s a very fair post. This is the OLYMPICS, not some county fair. So if there’s 75 journalists, they probably represent 40+ different countries. So is this really excessive when considering the scale of the event?

  32. robert, robert, robert…

    one scene, 67 ways to shoot it…

    … I guess that’s the reason why you take snap shots and not photographs.

    your lack of journalistic approach with this blog entry makes me seriously doubt your over integrity as a journo… all opinion, no facts. Ever thought about taking a job with the Fox Network? I hear that’s part of their job requirements list.

  33. robert, robert, robert…

    one scene, 67 ways to shoot it…

    … I guess that’s the reason why you take snap shots and not photographs.

    your lack of journalistic approach with this blog entry makes me seriously doubt your over integrity as a journo… all opinion, no facts. Ever thought about taking a job with the Fox Network? I hear that’s part of their job requirements list.

  34. It’s worse than that, Robert- there are two photo wells, one on either side of the pool, so there are about 120 photogs. Vincent Lafouret is blogging his shooting for Newsweek at http://vincentlaforet.wordpress.com, and you can sense his frustration.

    It is completely unrealistic for photo editors to expect their photographers to get anything unique, given the numbers shooting from the same location. Anyone who thinks that 120 photogs will have 120 different ways to shoot the same scene is dreaming. When Michael Phelps is swimming, they are all trying to shoot Michael, all from the same angle and distance.

    Oh, and the vests? Those are the press passes – each has a number on the back. Since they can’t be washed (can’t get in the venue without the vest, not enough time off to wash them), that means 120 really stinky photogs.

    Robert is right, there are important things going on in the world and the traditional media can’t bring themselves to send a single photog to most of those places.

  35. It’s worse than that, Robert- there are two photo wells, one on either side of the pool, so there are about 120 photogs. Vincent Lafouret is blogging his shooting for Newsweek at http://vincentlaforet.wordpress.com, and you can sense his frustration.

    It is completely unrealistic for photo editors to expect their photographers to get anything unique, given the numbers shooting from the same location. Anyone who thinks that 120 photogs will have 120 different ways to shoot the same scene is dreaming. When Michael Phelps is swimming, they are all trying to shoot Michael, all from the same angle and distance.

    Oh, and the vests? Those are the press passes – each has a number on the back. Since they can’t be washed (can’t get in the venue without the vest, not enough time off to wash them), that means 120 really stinky photogs.

    Robert is right, there are important things going on in the world and the traditional media can’t bring themselves to send a single photog to most of those places.

  36. You’d assume a lot of them come from sporting periodicals or other related places. Even if they all are from newspapers or other such things, that’d be at most one photographer from each paper? and how many do they have? No matter how you cut it, the olympics are news, and they need to come it somehow.

  37. You’d assume a lot of them come from sporting periodicals or other related places. Even if they all are from newspapers or other such things, that’d be at most one photographer from each paper? and how many do they have? No matter how you cut it, the olympics are news, and they need to come it somehow.

  38. Robert, There are enough people covering it. Don’t you think? Besides, Olympics is a major event. Wars – such as these come and go. But Olympics is a one in a few year event.

    I know in your part of the world its breaking news.. the wars et all. But in many parts of the world – east of Greenwich – such things happen.. How many people cover tech ( you included) gadgets versus – rape and assault in a third world?

    Also: Market forces dictate. market is not as evil as we make it to be. We are all responsible for creating the market. Are we not – consumers? can you imagine if we vote for a different consumption pattern – aside from Britteney and K Fed – and still the media will cover it? Media covers what we WANT it to cover.. Just as in a democracy we dont get leaders we deserve, but what we want.. and no its not the same and neither is it subtle..

    Cheers
    Olga Lednichenko
    PS: IF Americans did more sport – it would have been a healthy nation -> which in turn would have driven Mc Donald out the business -> which in turn would not make a bunch of people east of key west – eat mc donalnds because hey its Hip. its american.. Which in turn would drive the medical costs throughout the world – lower.. which in turn.. Ok.. I will stop now.. :)

    PS 2: Would you have said the same, if it wasn’t Olympics – but the WORLD – Footbal Cup.. Where the World = 50 US states ? try Sunday Football or well, how about the super bowl?

  39. Robert, There are enough people covering it. Don’t you think? Besides, Olympics is a major event. Wars – such as these come and go. But Olympics is a one in a few year event.

    I know in your part of the world its breaking news.. the wars et all. But in many parts of the world – east of Greenwich – such things happen.. How many people cover tech ( you included) gadgets versus – rape and assault in a third world?

    Also: Market forces dictate. market is not as evil as we make it to be. We are all responsible for creating the market. Are we not – consumers? can you imagine if we vote for a different consumption pattern – aside from Britteney and K Fed – and still the media will cover it? Media covers what we WANT it to cover.. Just as in a democracy we dont get leaders we deserve, but what we want.. and no its not the same and neither is it subtle..

    Cheers
    Olga Lednichenko
    PS: IF Americans did more sport – it would have been a healthy nation -> which in turn would have driven Mc Donald out the business -> which in turn would not make a bunch of people east of key west – eat mc donalnds because hey its Hip. its american.. Which in turn would drive the medical costs throughout the world – lower.. which in turn.. Ok.. I will stop now.. :)

    PS 2: Would you have said the same, if it wasn’t Olympics – but the WORLD – Footbal Cup.. Where the World = 50 US states ? try Sunday Football or well, how about the super bowl?

  40. Robert, I’m appaled by your simplicity.

    First these guys are sports photographers not photojournalists – different skill set and the transition isn’t easy.

    Secondly it’s the free market model at work. These guys are supplying a demand for images from the media who in turn are supplying demand from readers. The reason photojournalists are having such a hard time is that we the readers aren’t interested in a) still images anymore b) images of Russia (did you mean Georgia?), even less congress.

  41. Robert, I’m appaled by your simplicity.

    First these guys are sports photographers not photojournalists – different skill set and the transition isn’t easy.

    Secondly it’s the free market model at work. These guys are supplying a demand for images from the media who in turn are supplying demand from readers. The reason photojournalists are having such a hard time is that we the readers aren’t interested in a) still images anymore b) images of Russia (did you mean Georgia?), even less congress.

  42. If the Cubs win the World Series this round…that’s a few World Cups and SuperBowls in one.

  43. If the Cubs win the World Series this round…that’s a few World Cups and SuperBowls in one.

  44. Robert, if they hung around for 2 weeks I would agree, but the Opening Ceremony to me deserved the attention. To me, in terms of technology, political and other impact China’s ambitious “moonshot”ranked far higher (see two of my posts below) than the iPhone launches or the g6 summits and you know how many journalists and bloggers cover those

    http://florence20.typepad.com/renaissance/2008/08/technology-at-the-olympics-opening-cermony.html

    http://dealarchitect.typepad.com/deal_architect/2008/08/weekend-stuff-our-moonshot.html

  45. Robert, if they hung around for 2 weeks I would agree, but the Opening Ceremony to me deserved the attention. To me, in terms of technology, political and other impact China’s ambitious “moonshot”ranked far higher (see two of my posts below) than the iPhone launches or the g6 summits and you know how many journalists and bloggers cover those

    http://florence20.typepad.com/renaissance/2008/08/technology-at-the-olympics-opening-cermony.html

    http://dealarchitect.typepad.com/deal_architect/2008/08/weekend-stuff-our-moonshot.html

  46. You suggest that we use half those photographers on Congress? Are you serious? That’s absurd. You don’t even need one photographer there but if one was needed one would be totally sufficient. Why do you need photographers at Congress? A journalist (not a photo journalist) is all that is needed there. There is no newsworthy need for photos at Congress. Would you truly be more interested in looking at photos of tired old politicians that you seen thousands of times over the years, or some action shots of the worlds top atheletes competing in one of the worlds greatest sporting events?

    Send half those photographers to Congress indeed! LOL!!

  47. You suggest that we use half those photographers on Congress? Are you serious? That’s absurd. You don’t even need one photographer there but if one was needed one would be totally sufficient. Why do you need photographers at Congress? A journalist (not a photo journalist) is all that is needed there. There is no newsworthy need for photos at Congress. Would you truly be more interested in looking at photos of tired old politicians that you seen thousands of times over the years, or some action shots of the worlds top atheletes competing in one of the worlds greatest sporting events?

    Send half those photographers to Congress indeed! LOL!!