Welcome by Dirck Halstead- The Digital Journalist
The Digital Journalist

The Digital Journalist

Letter from
the Publisher

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

When the force of Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, photojournalists somehow managed to fight their way into the disaster area. In the face of rising waters, no power for cameras and computers, no transport, and on top of that, theft of their equipment by looters, they documented a tragedy of biblical proportions. We kept scanning newspapers, magazines and online publications for their work, and once we felt that the photographers had a moment to breathe, started to ask them for their first-person accounts. We are presenting a major gallery of their work as our cover feature, "The Eyes of the Storm," this month, along with their words in the Dispatches section. As our Dispatches editor Marianne Fulton observes, these photographers' gripping accounts as "first responders" contain "extraordinary testimony of the ferocity of the storm as well as the perseverance of the photographers on the ground."

In the past months we have been inviting photographers around the world to send in suggestions for feature stories for future issues. This month as our second feature we are offering a colorful look at Chinese Street Opera, called "Wayang," shot by a young photographer from Singapore, Lester Ledesma, who proposed the story to us.

While Katrina was pounding the Gulf, we were in Perpignan, France, covering the annual "Visa Pour l'Image," which is the biggest photojournalism show in the world. We had planned to spend most of our time talking to photographers, but when the storm hit, we, like many of the agencies and magazine editors in attendance, started to direct coverage from the festival's Palais des Congrés. Executive Editor Peter Howe and columnist Jim Colburn report on the marvelous, madcap Mecca called Visa Pour l'Image.

In their Ethics column, Karen Slattery and Erik Ugland comment on the dilemma that photojournalists find themselves in while photographing Katrina, while suddenly FEMA and the military try to micromanage the coverage by asking them not to photograph dead bodies. It's an ethical quandary of censorship vs. self-censorship.

This issue marks The Digital Journalist's eighth anniversary online, making us one of the longest-standing on the Web. In our Editorial we comment on what we have learned in those years, and how we manage to turn out this magazine every month.

Neil Davis was a legendary reporter who made his reputation covering Vietnam and Southeast Asia. He was killed 20 years ago this month during a military revolt in Thailand. Australian documentary filmmaker Marianne Harris pays her own tribute to Davis on the eve of a party to remember him.

This month, E-Bits Editor Beverly Spicer gives us a thoughtful and comprehensive look at the first week of the Katrina tragedy from the perspectives of the victims, the members of the press, and the anguished viewers watching it unfold – one and all completely helpless in the face of overwhelming events. This is a must-read E-Bits.

Most of us are certainly familiar with the name W. Eugene Smith and his famous body of photographic work. Tom Hubbard, Emeritus Professor of Photojournalism at Ohio State University's School of Journalism and Communication, knows about him. But in "Assignment Sheet," he writes about the original Gene Smith, the AP photographer in Cincinnati from the '30s to the early '70s, in his wonderful journal, "The Other Gene Smith." Professor Hubbard also has something extremely important to say about the current trend in journalism that will impact the future of the profession. Please read his "Commentary."

Also in this month's "Assignment Sheet," photojournalism student Joyce Lin continues to document her experiences as a summer intern for The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware) and shows us some of the work that she has done for them in her journal, "The Intern: Part 2." And, rounding out this month's column, retired Newsday (N.Y.) staff photographer Dick Kraus continues his series of "Through a Lens Dimly" memories about some of the characters who infused his life, with a rollicking excursion through a 1984 National Democratic Convention in San Francisco in his journal, "Stick and Me."

Ever-provocative columnist Ron Steinman puts Steven Bochno's controversial new TV program, "Over There," in his cross-hair. And, as always, our columnists Bill Pierce, Terry Heaton, Mark Loundy and Chuck Westfall weigh in on a variety of subjects this month.

As you can tell, this is a huge issue, featuring a lot of important photography. We hope you enjoy it and tell others to pay us a visit.

Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher

Back to Contents Page