We’ve done a lot of thinking here at the PowerBlog on the future of journalism in a digital age. A recent piece in Forbes by Leo Gomez brings into focus (ahem) the question of digital innovation and it’s influence on photojournalism.

In his August 24 “Digital Tools” column, Gomez writes that “cameras are becoming what computers already are: cheap, ubiquitous, powerful and utterly transformational. There are now a billion digital cameras, counting the ones in mobile phones. They are chronicling everything about life on Earth, from birthday parties in Topeka to street protests in Tehran. Many more are on the way.”

With this explosion of video and still pictures, what role will professional photojournalism play? Both written and photojournalism faces the current challenge of a deluge of community and consumer-generated information (word blogs, video blogs, photo-sharing sites, et al.). As the technological developments have tracked with computers, so will the editorial and production side of photojournalism track with the developments in wordsmithing.

And as with the larger world of professional journalism, there will be a corresponding increase in the need for gatekeepers and editorial review to screen through the mass to find and polish the gems. And with regard to the influence of culture, given the increasingly non-verbal (i.e. illiterate) nature of today’s digital consumer, photojournalism might just be a fulcrum of cultural and social formation in the Internet age.

The same issue of Forbes includes a collection of seven profiles of the leaders in Internet video innovation. What’s true for photojournalism is also true for other forms of visual communication, including theatrical and documentary film productions. And so we need Story in the visual as well as the written arts.

  • http://floydandpartners.com Bob Floyd

    There is no denying the power and influence of photojournalism in shaping opinion. I would offer one caveat, however: that just as we must carefully consider the veracity of the words in an article, we must also consider the authenticity of any image. It’s easy to contrive a little drama with some clever electronic manipulation and, thereby, create a stir or even launch an urban legend. McCurry’s Afghan girl, for example, could easily have God-given dark-brown eyes before a skilled retoucher gets a hold of that image to create that penetrating and unexpected stare. To paraphrase Twain, these days we must be on the look out for lies, damned lies and Photoshop.

  • http://www.theupsstorelocal.com/4553/ PATRICK POWERS

    Bob,
    I agree Photoshop journalism is troubling. Although, I followed the Iranian elections on Twitter and found the commentary and photos to be sufficiently coherent to be compelling…along with being far ahead of the MSM reporting.