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

The Digital Journalist

Letter from
the Publisher

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

This month's cover feature tells the inspiring story of how a new photo agency, Aina, arose from the ashes of post-Taliban Afghanistan. In October 2002, as battles still raged in the mountains, famed photojournalists (and brothers) Reza and Manoocher Deghati held a workshop, selecting 25 students from over 400 applicants, men and women, from ages 13 to 40 - many of whom had been jailed by the Taliban or fought against the Taliban - to teach them photojournalism. Starting with box cameras, the newly-fledged photographers have since moved on to digital. With the help of modern communications, and a marketing tool, Digital Railroad the agency has quickly joined the mainstream of modern photojournalism. Aina Chief Editor Dimitri Beck recounts the amazing story, and we feature the images taken by their photographers in our cover story gallery.

It was as recently as 1978 that the first woman, Nancy Kassebaum, was sworn in as a U.S. Senator. Since then, 14 women have joined her in the highest legislative branch. Photographer Melina Mara has spent the past four years documenting these amazing women. With a grant from Canon, and assistance from the Center For American History of the University of Texas, she has assembled a distinguished body of work that tells a story of America in transition.

In our Dispatches section, our correspondents report from the elections in Iraq, the mudslide in California, and continue to tell their stories about covering the aftermath of the recent tsunami in South Asia.

The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) has been a force for education among its members since its inception. However, for many years they were forbidden by charter from taking a stance on business matters. Today, the Association represents not only staff photographers and videographers, but also many freelancers. As we have said in this forum many times, the landscape has changed tremendously in the profession, with rights demands by publishers and buyers. Last year, the Association voted to become a proactive force to help its members thread their way through all these changes. Photographer Greg Smith was elected as the head of the new business standards committee, and working with other members of the group, has come up with the first Business Practices Guide. This is not a "sermon from the mount," but rather a starting point to encourage dialog between photographers and employers and clients. Executive Editor Peter Howe writes about how this guide came to be. We think it is a very positive step forward for photojournalism, and we encourage our readers to discuss the guide, both in our forums and on the NPPA Web site.

A new book, "102 Minutes," by New York Times reporters Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn recounts the plight of people caught inside the World Trade Center towers following the attack by Al Qaida on 9/11. Perhaps the most shocking part of the story is how many of the 343 firefighters who died that day were tragically doomed by inadequate communications. We look at how a simple $150 Radio Shack scanner might have saved many of those lives.

Ron Steinman concludes his two-part series, "21 Minutes," in which he discusses what the future holds for broadcast and cable news. This series should be a must-read for journalism students, as well as network presidents.

Executive Editor Peter Howe reports on his visit to sunny Florida for Fotofusion in Delray Beach in his "Fun, Fun, Fun, Shooting in the USA" commentary.

In their Ethics column, Karen Slattery and Eric Ugland take up the issue of staging photographs and events, and what the cost can be.

In his Nuts and Bolts column, Bill Pierce discusses why photo exhibitions are so important.

Our regular columnists, Mark Loundy and Terry Heaton, check in with their latest musings in their respective columns, "Common Cents" and "TV News in a Postmodern World."

From "Central America" columnist Jim Colburn compares the world of difference between covering Washington's presidential State of Union (SOTU) address and Nebraska's State of The State (SOTS) speech by its governor.

And for a nightcap, be sure not to miss Beverly Spicer's wonderful potpourri of movies and photographs in E-Bits.

The February issue of Assignment Sheet leads off with "Ten Reasons For the Superior Intellect of TV Photographers." It is a tongue-in-cheek treatise on ... well, the superior intellect of TV photographers. It was conceived by a videographer, who for reasons all too apparent, wishes to remain anonymous. Whether you shoot stills or video, you will certainly have an opinion about this article. And retired Newsday (Long Island, N.Y.) staff photographer Dick Kraus continues looking "Through a Lens Dimly" with another memorable look at one of the Damon Runyonesque characters that peopled his long and colorful career. This month, read "The Day Sully Was Fired."

And last, but not least ... a report from our Editor for Europe, Horst Faas, of the preparations now underway for a large reunion of Vietnam War correspondents in Ho Chi Minh City from April 27 to May 3. The gathering will mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the war - and could be the final reunion for many of the aging war veterans.

NOTE: There are only a few days left to enroll in our Platypus Workshop in Ventura Ca., from February 26-March 6. We have a few spots left in shoot'n'edit, plus a number of spots for participants to join as part of teams.


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We hope you enjoy this issue.

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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