Welcome by Dirck Halstead- The Digital Journalist
The Digital Journalist

The Digital Journalist

Letter from
the Publisher

Welcome to the October issue of The Digital Journalist.

Time magazine contract photographer Steve Liss was on a campaign trip with presidential candidate George W. Bush when he paid an eye-opening visit to a penal institution in Texas that held youthful offenders. What startled Liss was that he found himself looking at children in jail. He determined that one day he would go back and find out what was really going on. This led to a two-year odyssey that took him to Laredo, Texas. He put his lucrative magazine photojournalism career on hold, and won the confidence of judges, guards, and most importantly, the children. His compelling book, No Place for Children: Voices from Juvenile Detention, has just been published by the University of Texas Press. We think this is a powerful and important volume of compassionate photojournalism that aims to inform and, hopefully, correct a major flaw in our society. Be sure to watch Steve's streaming video interview, as well.

For the last four decades, David Burnett has been acknowledged as one of the top photojournalists in the world. He was there at Time magazine as a contract photographer before I arrived in the '70s, and still continues to do remarkable work for them. What makes David so special is that he has no particular style. He is constantly experimenting, and is as likely to show up on assignment toting a '50s vintage Speed Graphic as he is his beloved Canons. This fall he opened a major "introspective" show at Visa Pour L'Image in Perpignan, France, called "Too Close." It addresses his philosophy that it is necessary to show context and environment in photographs. Executive Editor Peter Howe supplies the introduction to this portfolio, and interviewed Burnett for the streaming video that accompanies the story.

In our Dispatches section, Editor Marianne Fulton continues to follow the unfolding story of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. As the effects of the huge storms were being felt, University of Texas photojournalism professor Eli Reed watched with some trepidation as half a dozen of his students packed water, food, and extra gas into their cars, and headed off from Austin to the storm-devastated areas. Over the following days they produced a report that could only be described as "professional." Some of their pictures were picked up by agencies such as Magnum. They have assembled a slide show, which you can view in its entirety in the section, as well as contributing Dispatches about what they learned from covering a real-life news story. We hope you will send these students e-mail messages to encourage them as they go forward. We also have post-hurricane Dispatches from both Smiley Pool of The Dallas Morning News, who continues his coverage from last month's DJ, and Drew Tarter, Photo Director of the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss., who gives a firsthand account of what it was like to try to publish the newspaper from ground-zero of Katrina's wrath.

In the past few months we have been asked "whatever happened to ..." some of the people that we have featured in our stories. A lot of you want to know how our Editor For Europe, Horst Faas, is doing after being stricken and paralyzed by a blood clot in his spine this spring. To bring you up to date on Horst and some of our other subjects previously profiled, we have started a new section called "Update," which we will devote to these follow-up stories.

Our second "Update" this month - October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month - catches up with photographer Paula Lerner, first seen in our January 2005 issue. She writes about a story that is too close to home, recounting how while covering a story on breast cancer, she found that she also had the disease. Sometimes, news hits too close to home.

In 2002 the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp featuring a famous photograph by W. Eugene Smith that showed a battle weary trooper drinking from his canteen in the Pacific during World War II. While visiting the Santa Fe Workshop, where she is a lecturer, Mary Virginia Swanson came across a bar that had huge photographs from that series, prominently displayed by the bar owner, Nick Klonis, who is the son of the soldier in the pictures. After years of tireless research, Nick has solved the 60+-year mystery behind the images. It is a remarkable story.

Executive Editor Peter Howe looks at the coverage from Hurricane Katrina, then spins backward into history to ask the tantalizing question" when does photography become propaganda?'

Contributing writer Patrick Sloyan remembers his colleague Peter Jennings.

Carolyn Moreau of the Hartford Courant was one of 10 photographers who went through the agony and triumph of our most recent Platypus Workshop in Rockport, Maine. She writes about that experience, and in our "Platypus Theatre" we show some of the final films that the students edited. We are also announcing this month our first Platypus Workshop for 2006 in Ventura. We suggest you enroll early to take part in this life-altering experience.

Ron Steinman writes about the debilitating effects of trauma that photojournalists experience all too frequently these days. Bill Pierce comments on the advantages of archiving your photographs on separate hard drives; Terry Heaton postulates about a new paradigm in journalism where all roads now flow to media, rather than the old way, in which everything came from media. Mark Loundy does some basic math on what it costs to freelance as opposed to being on staff and Chuck Westfall weighs in with more "Tech Tips."

In her column entitled "The Gulf," E-Bits Editor Beverly Spicer writes this month about events in the Gulf Coast, the media and the military, raw reportage vs. "happy talk," and challenges us to bridge the gulf between the two.

There have been many stories posted in "Assignment Sheet" and in The Digital Journalist over the years that talk about covering stories. But none of them talks about the down and dirty nitty gritty like Mark Neuling's offering this month. Read "Ripples Through the Week" to get a taste of what a videographer goes through to make an assignment work. In this case, it's a local hook on the hurricane story that was taking place a thousand miles away.

"Assignment Sheet" Editor Dick Kraus continues his foray through the Damon Runyonesque characters in his life with a continuation of last month's humorous episode of convention coverage in "Stick and Me II." Plus, in light of the continuing drama of hurricane stories emanating from the storm-wracked Gulf Coast, Kraus has added a hurricane episode from his past with "The Greek Restaurant." There is also a commentary by Kraus that should be of interest to newbies and seasoned pros alike.

Kraus would also like to make this statement to everyone who receives this e-mail:

"Friends: Dirck Halstead and The Digital Journalist have been very kind to allow me to write and publish "Assignment Sheet" for the past several years. You may have noted that lately most of the journals each month are mine. "Assignment Sheet" wasn't meant to be about me. Rather, it is supposed to be a place where the average, everyday news photographer can share his or her stories about their experiences on the job. Not all of us are covering war stories in the Gulf in the Mideast or photographing hurricane death and destruction on our own Gulf Coast. Many of us shoot the everyday, hometown and backyard stories. But, as I have tried to point out, a lot of them are interesting, humorous, exciting and dangerous in their own way. I know that there are a lot of interesting stories yet to be told, by other newspukes. Please share them with all of us. Get in touch with me at newspixer@optonline.net. Thanks, Dick Kraus.

And finally ... Since 1999, Roger Richards of The Virginian-Pilot has edited our sister publication, The Digital Filmmaker. The intent has always been to offer our readers a chance to follow the latest in DV technology. Since this technology has acquired a whole new life since the advent of HD, Roger and his Webmaster (and wife) Deena have been working to update the site, and offer all sorts to new features. Roger is pleased to announce that our Contributing Editor, Ron Steinman, has signed on as Executive Editor for The Digital Filmmaker. Among his targets for extending the reach and possibilities for the site is to post an open call for submissions to filmmakers as a place to display their work. We invite you to read this important invitation at http://digitalfilmmaker.net/dv/intent.html.

We hope you enjoy this issue. There's a lot to think about.

Dirck Halstead

Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher

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