Final project: The Evolution of the Photojournalist in the Digital Age

Long gone are the days in which photojournalists shot spot news and waited to see the play their photos got in the next day’s newspaper. Today’s photojournalists still strive to be first on the scene, but are also in a race to be first to post their pics online and on social media, first to record and release raw video captured with their DSLRs and smartphones, and first to tell the story if reporters aren’t on hand.

No, these are not your father’s photojournalists.

Given the ever-changing landscape of photojournalism – and journalism in general – the final project for my Fundamentals of Digital Journalism class will be titled: The Evolution of the Photojournalist in the Digital Age.

I’ve already spoken with Don Himsel, a former co-worker of mine at The Telegraph of Nashua who has worked at the paper since 1989. Don’s been a member of the National Press Photographers Association and has served on the board of directors of the New Hampshire Press Association. He has received state and regional photojournalism awards, including one of the first ever New England Newspaper Association Publick Occurances awards for documentary photojournalism.

And he’s a kickass shooter and all-around great guy, too.

Mark Garfinkel, a staff photographer at The Boston Herald, has also agreed to take part in this project. Mark also runs the great Picture Boston blog, a treasure trove of some of his best work. Mark was a guest speaker at a class earlier in the semester and I knew that, with his experience, versatility and adaptability, he would be a great source for this project.

I’m also thrilled to have already spoken with a pair of Boston-area Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalists for this project. The Boston Globe’s Stan Grossfeld has won two Pulitzers, the first in 1984 for Spot News for his coverage of the effects of war on the people of Lebanon. The following year he won the Feature Photography Pulitzer for his coverage of the famine in Ethopia and illegal aliens along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Former Boston Herald-American photographer Stanley Forman, now a videographer at WCVB-TV, has won three Pulitzers, including two consecutive in the mid-1970s, the first photographer to do so. He won the 1976 Spot News Pulitzer for his series of photos of a fire escape collapse during a Boston fire the summer before, then was awarded the Spot News Pulitzer in 1977 for capturing perhaps the most iconic image from Boston’s busing crisis: an African-American lawyer being assaulted by a white man using an American flag as a lance. Forman was also part of the Herald-American photo staff that won the 1979 Feature Pulitzer for its coverage of the Blizzard of ’78.

Finally, I’d like to speak with a couple of freelance photographers who are relatively new to the industry but have made their mark thanks, in part, to social media.

Given my own interest in photography coupled with 25 years of experience as a journalist, this should be an exciting and fun project to pull together.

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