Publisher's Letter by Dirck Halstead - The Digital Journalist
The Digital Journalist

The Digital Journalist

Letter from
the Publisher

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

Sometimes, the stories we feature in The Digital Journalist have a rough edge. They reflect the real world, not necessarily the world we would like to imagine. This month, our cover story, "Extreme Asia," features the work of a photographer who is published widely in Europe, but not in the United States. Philip Blenkinsop has spent the last 16 years trekking through the dark world of man's inhumanities to other men in Southeast Asia. For his work, he was awarded the "Visa d'Or" award this fall at the Visa Pour l'Image photojournalism festival in Perpignan, France. We think you will find his images both remarkable and troubling. In the streaming video interview, you will have a chance to learn firsthand about Philip's odyssey.

After three years, the war in Iraq has taken a toll in broken bodies of U.S. servicemen and servicewomen.

Nina Berman has spent the last year interviewing and photographing these veterans, and we think it is important that you see their photographs, and read their stories, in "Purple Hearts: Back From Iraq."

Last month, independent producer and cameraman Kevin Sites found himself in a position he could never have imagined. While accompanying a Marine unit as they swept through Fallujah in Iraq, he witnessed a Marine shooting a wounded Iraqi. The video was almost instantly seen around the world. Ever since, Kevin has been haunted by what he shot, as he has been accused of betraying the Marines with whom he was embedded. He has written a letter to those Marines, which was featured on his blog. Our Ron Steinman, a former NBC bureau chief in Saigon during the Vietnam War, comments on the dilemma that Kevin found himself in.

On the same subject, this month we start a bi-monthly series on ethics in photojournalism by Karen Slattery and Erik Ugland, professors of ethics for visual journalists at Marquette University. They comment on the Kevin Sites story. We feel that this column is an important addition to our magazine, and we urge all photojournalists and students to read it.

There were two major stories that occurred last month that had a bearing on visual journalism. It was announced that the Reuters Newspictures division was closing its major Washington and London operations, in favor of moving their central command desk to, of all places, Singapore. Horst Faas reports on this story and what it might mean for photojournalism.

Brian Storm, who was regarded as the "wünderkind" of photojournalism, was abruptly let go by Corbis. It was a major shock to the industry, which was well aware of the heroic measures Storm had taken to rescue the reputation of the agency in the last two years. We report on this bewildering corporate move in "The Puzzling Case of Brian Storm."

As we look back at 2004, we think of all the great photographers we have lost: Richard Avedon, Helmet Newton, Carl Mydans, Eddie Adams, George Silk, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Our Executive Editor, Peter Howe, looks back the legacies of these men, and if you can read this column without a tear coming to your eye, you should check your own pulse. Contributing Editor David Friend looks back at the importance of Cartier-Bresson's legacy in an exclusive interview he did for Vanity Fair.

This month we take great pleasure in announcing the appointment of Horst Faas as our new Editor for Europe. Horst, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, retired this fall after a distinguished career at The Associated Press. He has been a contributing editor for The Digital Journalist since 2000, and has produced our coverage of two summer Olympic games. This is an important move for us. We try to make The Digital Journalist a publication that will serve a global audience, not just American. Horst will direct our coverage of Europe from London, and will be working with Grazia Neri, our contributing editor in Italy.

Our December Dispatches contributors share some of the most intense days of their lives with us. Luis Sinco, whose "Marlboro Man" photo of a weary Marine was brought to the attention of the world by an emotional Dan Rather, describes the historic snap in his exclusive dispatch from Fallujah. Shawn Baldwin, embedded for The New York Times with Iraqi and American combatants, shot what he saw and told us what he shot. The perverse wisdom from Iraq, that it's safer for American journalists to be embedded with a combat unit in Iraq than to work in Baghdad, is confirmed in a dispatch from Paul Taggart of World Picture News, who was pulled from a car in Baghdad and kidnapped for three days. But moments of comfort by photographers Sherrlyn Borkgren and Major Bill Palmer found their way from Iraq to our JPG gallery. From another conflict area, award-winning photographer Stephanie Sinclair describes the scene where she photographed Yassir Arafat's funeral.

Sean Cayton, a freelance photojournalist from Colorado Springs, Colo., has a journal in this month's Assignment Sheet called, "LEARNING TO BE A COMMUNITY JOURNALIST." He puts forth the proposition that a photographer who documents his local community is much the same in many ways as the local studio photographer. He states in his journal, "I argued that the small-town portrait studio was no different from the photography department in a small-town newsroom. Different branches of the same tree, I said." Retired Newsday (Long Island, N.Y.) photographer Dick Kraus also has something to say. "Stay in this business long enough and you will have some stories to tell about your boners, boo-boos and goofs." And, to prove his point, in his journal, "BONERS, BOO-BOOS AND GOOFS," he uses some of his own blunders.

This month, E-Bits Editor Beverly Spicer presents both sides of the post-election coin with excerpts from complementary sites that popped up on the Web shortly after the outcome of the election was announced. Some voters were Sorry, some were Not Sorry about the results. A video clip from The Tonight Show offers a humorous look into the victorious attitude of the winner. I hope you will enjoy E-Bits, and savor, as we do, the survival of humor after November 2nd.

We hope you enjoy this special year-end issue. Also, we urge you to pledge your financial support to The Digital Journalist so we can continue to bring you this kind of quality content in 2005.

Happy Holidays to all.

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.

Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher

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