Welcome by Dirck Halstead- The Digital Journalist
The Digital Journalist

The Digital Journalist

Letter from
the Publisher

Welcome to the April issue of The Digital Journalist, the monthly online magazine for photojournalism.

Last month, the world lost one of the last, and maybe the greatest, of the legendary staff of the old LIFE magazine. Gordon Parks died at the age of 93 on March 7 in New York; he was truly a renaissance man. Not only was he a great photographer, but also a brilliant filmmaker, composer, artist, and writer. He probably did more than any other single individual in the 20th century to bridge the gap between white and black, and to help promote an understanding between the two races to each other. We devote our cover story to his memory. Executive Editor Peter Howe leads off the tributes with his thoughtful introduction to Gordon's photo gallery, while photographer Douglas Kirkland recalls how Gordon influenced his own career. Eli Reed offers his own testimony as a black man and photographer, and Bobbi Baker Burrows, who worked with Gordon for many years as a LIFE picture editor and is one of the keepers of the flame of that grand old magazine, recalls what it was like working with him. I attended his funeral in his hometown, Fort Scott, Kan., and write about how the little town on the Great Plains shaped his life.

Later this month, the judges will announce the winner of this year's Pulitzer Prizes. One entry that you can surely count on being high on the list of nominees is the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colo., for its epic coverage of how the U.S. Marines honor their comrades and comfort their families after bringing home the remains of those slain in Iraq. Photographer Todd Heisler, working with reporter Jim Sheeler, tells an unforgettable story in "Final Salute." Rocky Editor and Publisher John Temple introduces this moving story, and writes about the collaborative effort involved in producing it.

Greg Kelly, who last year produced his CBC documentary "Deadline Iraq: Uncensored Stories of the War," which looked at how photojournalists are covering the Iraq war, wanted to dig more deeply into why it is that these people will willingly risk their lives to cover such conflicts. He has just produced a sequel to that project entitled "Beyond Words: Photographers of War." In countless hours of interviews with about 50 international photographers, he and his colleague Eric Foss asked them to tell us stories that aren't getting "out there" in war coverage, but should.

Dispatches embraces the Olympics in Torino from two angles, a return to Chernobyl 20 years later, an insider's view of the Boston Marathon and an Iranian look at the individualistic rituals observed during the Islamic ceremony of Ashura.

Last month we held our 12th Platypus Workshop at Brooks Institute of Photography in Ventura, Calif. An unlikely colleague, comedian Drew Carey, joined photojournalists from newspapers such as The New York Times, Miami Herald, and The Virginian-Pilot as they wrestled with the new Canon XL H1 High-Definition camcorder and sweated over the edit bays. In our Platypus Theatre, we offer you seven examples of their work, along with Drew Carey's hilarious introduction. We will be offering our next workshop at the Maine Photo Workshop in August, and if you want an unforgettable and life-altering experience, join up. The application is on the site.

After hands-on experience at the Platypus Workshop, we offer a review by Steven T. Smith of the new Canon XL H1 High-Definition camcorder.

E-Bits Editor Beverly Spicer takes a look at the tangled web of today and unplugs from it to recall a more natural way of life. While shunning a wired world, she takes us on a trip through time out West, introduces us to a horse that likes drive-thru burgers, finds inspiration from a friend's words to young literature students, and marvels at the cooperative efforts of an 85-member parachute team. Lastly, it's back to nature with an amusing competition for resources between a cat and a squirrel.

In "Go Ahead, Tax My Day," Peter Howe brings some much-needed comic relief for your April 15th blues by suggesting several droll revenue-generating ideas for these taxing times.

Ron Steinman, Bill Pierce, Chuck Westfall, Jim Colburn, Mark Loundy and Terry Heaton all weigh in with their regular columns.

There is one journal for Assignment Sheet this month and it comes from that self-professed dinosaur, Dick Kraus. He has written another of his "Through a Lens Dimly" memoirs from his 42-year experience as a staff photographer at the Long Island (N.Y.) daily, Newsday. It is entitled, "Reporters and Other Stuff." In it, he expresses an often-voiced sentiment by staff photographers about being treated as second-class journalists/citizens in the newspaper world. Here is what he has to say regarding the way many reporters introduce photographers: "This is my photographer." "My" photographer, my ass. What gall.

On the subject of Assignment Sheet, we would like to remind our readers that Dick Kraus is looking for stories from our readers who work on daily newspapers or local TV stations.

This is another huge issue, with a lot of important stories and pictures. We hope you enjoy it.

Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher

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