Welcome by - The Digital Journalist
The Digital Journalist

The Digital Journalist

Letter from
the Executive Editor

By now you know whether or not you won on the Kentucky Derby. The chances are not, but in case you were one of the few lucky ones that came up with the trifecta, please contact us. We have some interesting sponsorship possibilities open that we'd like to talk to you about. Win or lose Sarah Hoskins has a pass for you to the mostly hidden world of the backstretch, racing's behind-the-scenes action that goes on 365 days a year, derby or no derby, and which has been the photographer's obsession for several years.

The outcome of the gamble that we are taking with the environment has much more serious consequences than a five-dollar bet on a long shot, and Antonin Kratochvil's new book, Vanishing, published by DeMo, is a warning cry for anyone willing to listen, something that few seem inclined to do in these days of the Hummer and drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Among the vanishing treasures whose rapid disappearance he mourns are the civil liberties that so attracted him as a citizen of communist-ruled Czechoslovakia.

Another treasure that has gone forever is Jocelyne Benzakin, the picture editor, agent and gallery owner, and the depth of this loss can be heard in the remembrances from photographers who benefited from her guidance and friendship. If you want to know the difference that one person can make to our community (one person of insight, passion, compassion, intelligence and a fair bit of cunning) then read these memorials. If you never believed that the world of photojournalism is a community then surely the response of these shooters to the loss of their friend will convince you otherwise.

Our Dispatches section, edited by Amy Marash, presents three very different notes from the field.

News coverage of the death of the Pope had been planned for years. Journalist John Arden, from Tiger Red TV, an independent production and satellite uplink business, wrote his first dispatch previewing the competition to rent rooftops in Vatican City, in 2002. How accurate was his forecast from St. Peter's? Arden checked in this month with another dispatch, this time from the trenches of the Roman satellite village, 2005. Mario Tama, our tireless contributor from Getty Images, arrived with the world press to cover the funeral of one Pope and the election of the next. Just as viewers and readers at home formed their own impressions, our dispatches from Arden and Tama explain how they felt on the ground, in the gallery, and pushing through the former to get to the latter.

With the possibility of an African Pope no more than a cloud thought, news from that part of the world is usually presented to Western readers not 24/7, but in a proportion unbelievably inverse to the size and population of the "dark" continent. When one segment of the population in Nigeria, its children under five years old, made news by contracting polio, after years of near-eradication of the disease, photojournalist Chris Hondros traveled to its northern state of Kano to document the World Health Organization's effort to stop the flare-up of polio. Our May dispatches describe, once again, what journalists do, all in a fortnight's work.

In this issue, Assignment Sheet brings you a journal from Mark Neuling, a freelance videographer, called "Lessons Learned." Mark, who normally shoots news and feature videos for cable TV stations, talks about a freelance commercial job he recently did. There's a whole different mind-set that's required for shooting a commercial story and he explains it in his usual, inimitable way.

"Look at us, we're beautiful" are lyrics from a song by Moby, and is the title of a journal from Alex Jones, who is a staff shooter for the Monitor (McAllen, Texas). Probably every staff photographer in the world would like to be able to suggest a story to their editor, and be given the time to accomplish it. Jones got the go-ahead and spent an interesting few days and nights covering the Spring Break Bacchanal as collegians flocked to the warm, sandy beaches of South Padre Island on the Texas Gulf Coast. He tells it all and with great photos, too.

Retired Newsday (Long Island, N.Y.) photographer Dick Kraus continues his romp through the Damon Runyonesque world of characters who peopled his 40-odd years in journalism. Take another peek "Through a Lens Dimly' with this humorous chronicle about "The Chinaman.'

E-Bits editor Beverly Spicer ponders the relationship between nomadism, cyberspace, and traveling in the mind, and the Tour de France as metaphor for life's struggle. She also shows us an amazing sculptural monument commemorating the Tour, and presents an amusing "video noir" on the brevity of life.

Community is what The Digital Journalist is all about. Whether it's finding out what some of your peers are doing in "Dispatches," or the crusty wisdom of Bill Pierce in "Nuts and Bolts," or the insights in Mark Loundy's "Common Cents" column our aim is to be a cohesive force within this community, to be an outlet for the work that never seems to find the light of day, and a sounding board for the ideas and energy that will take our craft into a healthy future. Next year I will have been a part of this community for 40 years, and when I look at the work in this issue, and the sheer tenacity against all odds that went into producing it, after all this time it's still a community that fascinates me, and of which I am proud to say I'm a member. When you've finished this issue I hope that you will agree with me.

Peter Howe
Executive Editor

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