The Digital Journalist

Letter from
the Publisher

Welcome to the OCTOBER 2001 edition of The Digital Journalist.

In our four-year history, we have had several defining moments. The first came in April of 1999. As the exodus of refugees from the killing fields of Kosovo began, photographers David and Peter Turnley were there. In a few short weeks, we had scrapped our planned cover story, and built our issue around their words, pictures, and video from the front lines. We had Peter Turnley's pictures in our issue while Newsweek devoted their cover to the photographs. A month later came the slaughter at Columbine. Once again, we were able to collect what we considered to be the best photographs from that tragedy, and combined them with interviews, both text and video, with the photographers and editors who had been working on the front lines of what we then called "The War at Home."

This spring we produced an enormous package on 20 years of AIDS and photography, with the photographs and voices of the photographers who had witnessed the birth of an epidemic.

The October 2001 issue was to be devoted to the second part in our series "The State of Photojournalism," focusing on magazines and the web.

Then came September 11. As we watched the horrific images on television we were already starting the process that has resulted in this issue: "Seeing The Horror - The Voices from Behind the Lens at Ground Zero."

Rarely has a tragedy of this magnitude been so well documented by so many talented and brave photojournalists. Newspaper, magazine, television, and freelance photographers rushed to the scenes in minutes. Many put their lives in mortal danger. Two were killed; many others were injured. Hours later their work began to appear. All rose to the highest levels of their craft, and the newspapers, magazines, and networks responded by giving unprecedented space to the images.

At the invitation of American Photo magazine, we moved our command post to their New York offices.

Susan Markisz, who contributed the fine cover story on the Newark Star-Ledger last month, started to contact the photographers who had been on the scene. We wanted not only to collect the best photographs from the newspapers, agencies, and wire services, but also wanted to listen to the words of the photographers.

We invited photojournalists to contribute pictures and diaries of their personal experiences through postings on the web and in discussion lists. More than 50 eyewitnesses contributed by email. Meanwhile, we conducted more than a dozen on-camera interviews with photographers such as James Nachtwey of the photo agency VII, Ruth Fremson of The New York Times, David Handschuh of the New York Daily News - who was wounded when the first tower of The World Trade Center fell, Carol Guzy and Michael Williamson of The Washington Post, Richard Drew of the Associated Press, and others. Still other contributors were sending in thoughts on the psychological dangers to photographers who had witnessed the carnage.

Contributing Editor Peter Howe conducted interviews, and then began the task of editing the huge selection of photographs. Photographer Aaron Fineman, whose picture from Ground Zero landed on the front page of The New York Times, provided invaluable assistance by conducting several interviews with the Times' staff photographers.

Our columnists, David Friend, Bill Pierce, Amy Bowers, Jim Colburn, and Roger Richards all submitted thought- provoking essays.

In some cases, the outstanding work deserved its own portfolios in this issue. James Nachtwey has his own gallery, as does The New York Times, whose team coverage of the World Trade Center holocaust was outstanding.

We hope this issue serves to honor these men and women who met the a great challenge, and performed so nobly.


This issue would not have been possible without the very hard work of a lot of people. Susan Markisz helped to conduct interviews, collate the many responses we received from photographers who had been at Ground Zero, and wrote our cover story. Peter Howe also conducted interviews, wrote articles and columns, and was the lead picture editor for this issue.

Our webmaster David Snider waded through the hundreds of pictures, photo-shopped them, and built the site during an almost round-the-clock effort for three weeks. We thank the agencies and publications that contributed their images for this use. In particular, we want to thank Joe Elbert and Michel DuCille of The Washington Post, Mike Smith of The New York Times, Maria Mann of Agence France Presse, Fred Sweets of Associated Press, The Newark Star Ledger, The New York Daily News, The Bergen Record, VII photo agency, Gamma USA, Reuters, Sipa Photos and the dozens of freelancers who stepped forward with their words and pictures.

We especially want to thank David Schonauer, Jack Crager, and Deborah Mauro of American Photo magazine, along with their staff, who invited us to use their offices in New York City as a base while putting together this issue. The Digital Journalist will be collaborating again with American Photo for their January/February issue using the coverage we have collected.

Remember - Photojournalism is back!

Dirck Halstead

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