Are photojournalists still relevant?

In the age of digital and social media, I think there’s still a lot of space for photojournalists, be they professionals or civilians. As someone who is essentially a glorified civilian photojournalist, I’d like to believe there’s space for people like me.

Yes, definitely. In a world plagued with social and environmental issues, we need photojournalists to bring the emotional staying power of good photographs to the eyes of the public. We still need people to care about issues.

But what about as a professional career?

I think professional photojournalists need to drop whatever gatekeeping attitudes they may have toward the craft. Even Mortensen and Keshelashvili use the term “citizen photojournalists,” implying that an ordinary person can still exhibit the characteristics of a photojournalist.

I think what’s most important in defining a photojournalist is the behavior with which they conduct themselves. If, as one respondent writes, “A true Journalist and a true Photographer are those who can go out any hour, day, day after day, week after week and deliver an accurate, verifiable, complete, and truthful story,” then who’s to say a citizen can’t behave in such a way?

Mortensen and Keshelashvili make an important point toward the end of their paper: “Instead of professionals holding onto their professional status by disdaining citizen photojournalism… [It] should be recognized for its advantages… that supplements professional photography.” There are countless citizens working in all sorts of fields and who lend added range to even the most dedicated pool of professional photographers. With the variety and gravity of today’s issues, we should learn to respect the work of the civilian photojournalist. Perhaps the professionals can find ways to collaborate further with them, in order to best address the concerns that rock today’s societies.

Environmentalist, culture conservationist, essayist. Development studies graduate. A collector of stories.