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

The Digital Journalist

Letter from
the Publisher

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

Since 1947, one agency has dominated the world of photojournalism. Magnum, which was created following World War II by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour and George Rodger, was conceived as a cooperative, where sales of photographs would be pooled, which would allow its member to undertake projects for which no immediate financial reward would be forthcoming. Since then, Magnum has covered the events of the world, as documented in the new book, Magnum Stories, which is a colossus weighing in at over seven pounds. Sixty-two of its photographers have stories in the book, including such legendary shooters as Sebastiao Salgado, Mary Ellen Mark, Don McCullin, and James Nachtwey. Contributing Editor Peter Howe takes us on tour of this exceptional publication, and the iconic photo agency that inspired it.

From time to time, The Digital Journalist has partnered with American Photo magazine to produce some very special stories. In 2001, we produced a special package on 9/11, which appeared in both the print edition and online. That story won us the Online News Association Award for best feature. Last summer we proposed a story on Pulitzer Prize winner David Leeson of the Dallas Morning News. David had been one of six photographers who had appeared in a special symposium that we had held at the University of Texas in Austin. In conversations, it became very clear that he was suffering from considerable stress. The coverage of the invasion of Iraq, in which he had been an embed member of the media, coming after decades of covering conflict zones around the world, was taking a toll. We wanted to talk about that, and see what he was going through. Several months later he sat down with us and proceeded to pour his heart out.

Leeson's interview was so extraordinary that American Photo chose to publish the entire conversation in its March/April issue, which is now on newsstands. We include that text interview in this issue, but have taken it further, with his actual words and images as a four-part streaming video package. We urge every young photographer who is considering following in David's footsteps to watch this film.

We are also co-publishing with American Photo a review by famed photojournalist David Alan Harvey of the new Epson R-D1, the first rangefinder digital camera that is capable of using Leica lenses.

Our Dispatch this month comes from Indonesia where photojournalist Martin van Krogh spent an astonishing week with a group of rebels in Banda Aceh. Van Krogh's intense and bizarre relationship with the jungle guerrillas ranged from high drama to low comedy. We also feature two great JPG galleries in this month's Dispatch section: One from the Academy Awards, the other from the "Gates" art exhibit in Central Park. From the rope line to the drape line, our contributors describe the challenge of shooting these highly photographed "hurry-up-and-wait" events.

Contributing Editor Ron Steinman visits the Dahesh Museum of Art in New York and its new exhibit, "First Seen: Photographs of the World's People, 1840-1880." Also, in his regular column, Ron writes about how he, like so many of us, is besieged by junk e-mail.

In his regular column, Peter Howe muses about the explosion of "mindless" patriotism sweeping the U.S.

David Lyman guides us through a world of self-exploration in his column "Who Are We?"

E-Bits editor Beverly Spicer takes us on a journey from the inner to the outer world, citing creative expression of various individuals all the way. Enjoy the Numa Numa Dance of recent fame; see a streaker across the background of a newscast; remember Johnny Carson and Jack Webb in an amusing exchange; and finally, visit Christo and Jeanne-Claude's great gift to Manhattan, "The Gates."

In his "Common Cents" column, Mark Loundy offers some business advise for newspaper photographers who suddenly find they have joined the ranks of freelancer.

Columnist Terry Heaton weighs in this month with "Convention versus the Internet."

Jim Colburn writes from "Central America" about the ongoing Mac vs. Windows PC battle.

Diversity is the name of the game in this month's Assignment Sheet. There are journals from four very diverse photographers. Mark Hertzberg, Director of Photography for the Journal Times in Racine, Wis., writes about publishing a book on famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Videographer Mark Neuling describes what it's like to be taping in an operating room during a procedure in "Sometimes Things Look Better in Black and White." Sean Cayton combines the worlds of photojournalism and wedding photography in "The Best of Both Worlds: A Photographic Exploration of Valentine's Day Weddings in Las Vegas." And finally, Assignment Sheet editor Dick Kraus recalls dealing (or not dealing) with "stage mothers" during the course of his long photo career at Newsday in "Mothers."

Many of the features and dispatches that make it into the monthly issues of The Digital Journalist come from photographers and filmmakers around the world who contact us with suggestions. We generally ask for a well-prepared story suggestion, plus a selection of images. If we find that we want to proceed with a story, we then contact the photographer and ask them to send us a CD with their captioned photos. This can be a very slow process, especially if the photographer is on the other side of the world. Now, thanks to our partnership with the online archival and distribution system, The Digital Railroad, we can offer our contributors a way to send their images to us, with captions, in a way that we can quickly evaluate them. Starting with next month's issue, contributors who have been approved to send in stories will receive a free one-month subscription to DRR. Of course, in addition to just sending their work to us, these photographers will be able to show their work around the world.

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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