Photojournalists bring home the human dimension from the front lines
By J.D. Lasica
Online Journalism Review
Visualize for a moment the defining images of World War II, Vietnam, the Gulf War. Photojournalists were there, serving as eyewitnesses to history and bringing home the harsh reality that war is about suffering, destruction and the death of innocents — not simply an abstract political conflict in faraway lands.
Just as WWII belonged to the wire services, Vietnam to Life magazine and the Gulf War to CNN, the placement of news photographers with advanced digital equipment on the front lines of the conflict in Iraq suggest that photojournalists will again play a key role in shaping the public’s understanding of war.
This time around, photographers will be stationed alongside troops, providing viewers an up-close kind of personal photojournalism not seen since the Vietnam War. With advances in digital photo and video equipment, battlefield images will be available for online distribution almost immediately.
“Digital,” in fact, may be the defining word in coverage of the Iraq war. Two editors who are overseeing photojournalists in the Gulf region expect that digital technology will yield a rich payoff to news publications looking to provide a multidimensional form of storytelling.
For starters, both Brian Storm, vice president of news and editorial photography at Corbis, and Tom Kennedy, assistant managing editor of multimedia for washingtonpost.com, say that their photographers are shooting digital exclusively.
“In Afghanistan, our people had to shoot digitally because there was no place to process film,” Storm says by phone from New York. “Today, the quality of digital photography has gotten so good that everybody’s gone digital. It’s fast, economical, and lets you transmit instantly instead of sending your film on a two-week safari to the Saudi desert.”