Letter From the Executive Editor by Peter Howe - The Digital Journalist
The Digital Journalist

The Digital Journalist

Letter from
the Executive Editor
(and you didn't even know there was one.)

Welcome to the August 2004 issue of The Digital Journalist, the monthly online magazine for visual journalism.

I should have been suspicious when Dirck Halstead offered to buy me lunch, and not in some deli in Queens, but a very nice restaurant on 51st Street. Like a lamb to the slaughter I quickly agreed, completely forgetting that lunches in midtown Manhattan always have an agenda. Dirck quickly got to his —he needed to have a number two at The Digital Journalist, especially during the summer when he would be traveling. He was offering me the job. You have to hand it to him; he can make the prospect of doing even more work for no money not only appealing, but also an honor and a privilege. I quickly agreed. By now I was way past the lamb stage; more like kabobs on a skewer.

As well as being devoid of remuneration, my new position also started immediately. Thus you are about to immerse yourself in the first issue under my somewhat hesitating direction, done not entirely without training wheels. Dirck himself called from those points around the country that have cell phone service, and the incredibly capable and helpful Gina Trapani and Cecilia White (tech and word supremas respectively) pulled more load than I suspect they normally do. What we offer you is somewhat different from our normal mix in that our two lead stories are not journalism in the normally accepted sense. Our main feature is on the work of Lynn Butler, a woman who for more than 30 years has combined her passion for photography with her passion for horses and used both to express her profound devotion to our natural landscape and the need for its preservation. Her world is full of magic and mystery and a love for and respect of the environment which embraces cultures that far predate the invention of the camera.

The love and passion that Greg Miller so masterfully captures on his 8x10 camera is that of the ebullient citizens of his wife's native land —Italy. Since this is summer, and we all need a vacation from war and politics, Miller's celebration of the delights of this wonderful country are refreshing and insightful. I don't think it's coincidental that opera found its highest expression in Italy, and Greg's photographs display all of the drama and posturing of life there, along with the Italians' innate sense of fun.

However, some of the characters portrayed might well fall in line with Jim Colburn's angry middle-aged white men, who he basically tells to get a life and get used to the world of diversity in which we find ourselves - and not a moment too soon according to him. A much nicer, and not at all angry middle-aged white man, Bill Pierce, reviews some of the new and small 8MP cameras, and finds that they do have a place in the professional's arsenal. We stay true to our name with a couple of other pieces on digital technology and its effect on journalism. Terry Heaton explains the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web and its significance, while Evan Nisselson continues his two-part series with a description of his Digital Railroad company. Ron Steinman looks at work from the pre-digital era when he reports on his visit to the exhibition "Magnum's New Yorkers" at the Museum of the City of New York. Beverly Spicer in the new E-Bits section looks at photographs finding their audience through e-mail, one the result of an act of insanity on the part of the photographer, and the other photographs the subject of which is an act of insanity by other people. Don Winslow reports on the recent NPPA board meeting in Florida, which fortunately for us all avoided any acts of insanity. Finally, I wrote down a few thoughts on the death of one of the true giants of photojournalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and his legacy to all of us engaged in what he describes as our "modest profession."


We've never received a dispatch from a "pundit" before, so when Boston University Professor Tobe Berkovitz was treated to a skybox view of the Democratic Convention, we asked him to describe the experience. Photojournalist Alex Jones shot his first Tour De France not from the photographers' motorcade but from the public area, while Karen Ballard won a coveted assignment to shoot within spitting distance of Saddam Hussein. Matthew Belson photographed Iraq from the water, and when Pulitzer Prize winner Cheryl Diaz Meyer sent e-mail home from a parade float in the Philippines, we could claim with confidence that our contributors wrote dispatches from several unusual perspectives this month.


You work for a small, local paper, covering mostly hometown news. Then one day, you get a call from the Belgian Consulate to the United Nations looking to hire you to cover their Foreign Minister when he comes to the US to visit the UN. Now what? This isn't your usual type of assignment. There are security arrangements and credentials to be gotten. It's going to be life in the fast lane, for awhile. Anthony Correia did it and explains it in his adventurous journal called "SOMETIMES ASSIGNMENTS FIND YOU" in this month's Assignment Sheet.

Dick Kraus, retired Newsday (Long Island, NY) Staff Photographer continues his "D-DAY REVISTED" memoirs. In Chapter Three, he and writer Jim Kindall arrive in France and tour the historic Normandy Beaches and view the shell blasted German fortifications that speak eloquently of the fury that was unleashed by both sides in that epic confrontation. If you have missed any of the earlier chapters, there are links to them from the Assignment Sheet Contents Page. However, if you do go back to an earlier chapter, it is suggested that after reading the chapter, you use your web browser's "BACK" button rather than using the "Contents Page" link at the bottom of the archived page.


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See Terry Heaton's Beyond RSS Aggregators for more information about RSS.

I hope you get as much pleasure out of reading all of these contributions as I did out of working with the people who contributed them. This isn't a bad gig at all, but I wouldn't give up my day job if I had one. See you next month, when the ship's wheel will be once again firmly in the hands of the captain.

The Digital Journalist is a reader-sponsored site. We depend on pledges to be able to continue to bring you this magazine. If you find that this has become a valuable resource for you, please send in a pledge through our I-bill secure payment link.

Peter Howe
Executive Editor

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