As the editor of the feature, Assignment Sheet, on the Digital Journalist, I have really had my eyes opened to the abuses of power by the editors, publishers and station managers who are in control of journalism today.
In the course of soliciting journals from working news photographers, I have found it increasingly difficult to get enough of them to fill our pages. Photographers have sent me journals and have asked me to hold up publication of their work until the story runs in their publication. Then later, they have to tell me that they can't allow me to run their journals because their employers have either delayed publication of the story or just simply forbade the journalist to publish their journal on these pages.
There have been many complaints of abuses of power on the pages of Digital Journalist and on the NPPA-List on the web. Publishers are grabbing all the rights to photographer's work. They own the photos and our creative souls. To deny the use of our work and our opinions and thoughts on the pages of a professional site such as Digital Journalist seems to be a denial of the very First Amendment rights that every publisher claims to be protecting when someone tries to keep them from publishing something.
I don't want to go into specifics for fear of getting anyone in trouble with their employers. But what really rang my chimes was when a young and talented journalist wrote a wonderful journal describing what it was like to get a job with a prestigious photo agency in a foreign bureau and asked me to hold up putting it on Assignment Sheet until an ok to use a photo was forthcoming from the bureau chief. I later received a frantic message from this photographer, begging me not to publish the journal, at all. It seems that not only was the use of the photo denied, but the photographer was forbidden to write any journal containing any reference to the agency. This particular article contained nothing that would cause any embarassment to the agency. But, the employer cited a company rule forbidding such a journal.
Incredible. To think that this kind of censorship is possible in a country that champions freedom of speech just blows me away.