Welcome by Dirck Halstead - The Digital Journalist (March 2007)
The Digital Journalist

The Digital Journalist

Letter from
the Publisher

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

In our cover story this month we look at the winners of the World Press Photo Contest. This year 4,460 photographers from 124 countries submitted more than 78,000 images to the judges in Amsterdam. Spencer Platt, who has frequently contributed to our Dispatches, won the grand prize for his surreal photograph of young Lebanese driving through a destroyed area in Beirut during the Hezbollah-Israeli war last summer. As our Executive Editor, Ron Steinman, observes, "These photographs give us an idea of how photojournalists around the world see the world in which they live, in many cases, a world we here in America do not normally see." Be sure to take an unflinching look at Nina Berman's prize-winning photo of a disfigured Marine and his bride in their wedding portrait. His is the face of war.

For the past eight years of publication, we have never run a feature on deceased photographers. There are so many living ones who deserve our attention. However, this month the University of Texas Press publishes a book on the work of Russell Lee. Lee is recognized for his fine work with the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression, documenting the lives of Americans who had been ravished by poverty. However, long after that, Lee continued to have a major impact on photojournalism. He was credited by Cliff Edom for helping to start the first university photojournalism program at the University of Missouri, and in 1947 moved to Austin where he taught photojournalism at the University of Texas. His former colleague, our Contributing Editor for Education, J.B. Colson, wrote the introductions to the book and this feature, working with Linda Peterson, The Center of American History's photo archivist, who selected the book's photos. Our Marianne Fulton contributes an appreciation from a curator's perspective.

In March we offer two Dispatches from war zones. The first is from a festering conflict in southern Thailand by Will Baxter and the second, a new look at Iraq by David Honl, who illustrates the growing trend in physical fitness among troops and medical personnel in Baghdad.

"When historians look back on this period I have no doubt that they will judge the media to have been woefully lacking in the courage to challenge the actions, the morality and the legality of the administration," writes Contributing Editor Peter Howe as he looks at how newspapers and television have contributed to "The Fear Factor" that is now increasingly dominating American discourse.

Executive Editor Ron Steinman has been watching the Scooter Libby trial on TV and has come to the conclusion that "as I watched witness after witness fumble to find his or her memory, I came to the conclusion that news organizations should start treating the land inside the Beltway as a foreign country."

In his Letter From New Orleans, our correspondent Jim Gabour explains how one plaintive voice returning to the city can warm the hearts of people who desperately need some cheer, in his story of "The Vegetable Man."

In our Camera Corner, Chick Harrity reviews the new Nikon D80 and asks if it has the "right stuff" to make the professional grade, while Mark Loundy worries about the ability of newspaper photographers to survive the new economics of publishing in his Common Cents column.

This month E-Bits editor Beverly Spicer takes on the phrasing in photo contracts that covers every possibility and "things not yet invented." Suggesting the importance of adaptability, she includes three photo galleries that definitely show thinking outside the box.

Assignment Sheet offers two journals this month. The first is from Joyce Lin, a young and unfettered photographer who is interning at The Press-Register in Mobile, Ala. Joyce relates her adventures after graduating from UCLA last June and I emphasize the word "adventures." Her journal is titled "Unbound." Dick Kraus continues his "Through a Lens Dimly" series with a timely remembrance of "Stormy Weather."

Our columnist Jim Colburn be spending the next three months working on a low budget documentary about the French presidential elections. He will be publishing a journal of his travels and travails in France. If you're interested in stopping by for a look, the Web address is: http://jamescolburn.typepad.com/democracy_in_france_a_doc/.

As usual, our regular columnists, Bill Pierce, Terry Heaton and Chuck Westfall, offer columns well worth reading.

We hope you enjoy this issue.

Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher

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