Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Crash, Bang: want a picture, want a photograph?

The consultation on the future of press photography I’m conducting for the NCTJ is underway. The end goal is to modernise the syllabuses trainees study to ensure they deliver photographers with the skills editors need.

To kick things off, it seemed worth asking the industry a big question: Given that reporters often take routine pictures, that video journalists almost always come from a reporting background, and that readers now take dramatic pictures of fires, crashes and other newsworthy events, what should the role of the professional press photographer be?

If you’d like to take part in the consultation, you can do so here

Everyone is welcome.

Among the key questions we want answers to are:

Should press photographers be trained in video?
- If so, to what level of competence?
- Higher than the average video journalist?
- To the same level as they are trained in stills photography at present?
- Should their role be confined to filming video, or should they be skilled in editing it as well?
- Should photographers be able to create a professional video package for online?
- Should they be able to conduct the interviews, gather the information and voice up the report?
- Should we create a distinction between press photographers, who do the image gathering, and photojournalists, who are all-rounders capable of creating finished video packages?

Already the comments are coming in, and while views differ it's clear we are asking the right questions.

I’m not just relying on the blog to get debate going. I’ve also e-mailed a personal invitation to take part to over 100 editors, picture editors, photographers and academics.

In doing so I’ve done a fair bit of trawling around newspaper websites looking for e-mail addresses. And, guess what, it’s very hard to find a picture editor’s e-mail, let alone a photographer’s.

Virtually all newspaper websites have some e-mail addresses. If they offer more than just a generic one they usually include the editor, the news editor, and often the chief reporter, the features editor and the web editor. But very few include the picture editor. Even sites which list all the reporters’ e-mails often don’t list those of photographers.

Why is that?

I’d be interested to know.

Anyone got any ideas?

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