→ September 2007 Contents → Column
Celebrating 10 Years of
The Digital Journalist
With this issue, The Digital Journalist is 10 years old.
For print publications 10 years is a real accomplishment. For an online magazine it is nothing short of amazing.
We created and launched The Digital Journalist in September of 1997 with the help of Hewlett Packard which offered us the use of a powerful server at MIT for the purpose of promoting photojournalism. Our overriding concept was: "What would Henry Luce have done if he had the World Wide Web in 1936 when he created LIFE magazine?"
We understood, then, the potential of the still new World Wide Web to create in-depth photo stories with multimedia elements. At first, since most people were accessing the Web with slow dial-up connections, we confined our multimedia to streaming audio. But within a year we were launching our first streaming video interviews with photographers.
For us, it was important to give photojournalists from all over the world the voice they had lacked. Magazines were slashing their stories to a small collection of images. We wanted to give them the space to tell their stories the way they had originally envisioned them. Also, we knew that the most underrated journalists in publishing were the photographers. They had lived their stories, and could be marvelous storytellers if they were only given the chance. The Digital Journalist is not an "objective" publication. Instead, the stories are personal--what was it like and how did it feel to witness earth-shaking events from the unique perspective of the photojournalist?
Some of these projects have won major awards. Our two-part cover article, done in October and November of 2001, featured stories by those photographers who had covered 9/11. We set up shop at American Photo magazine in New York and interviewed countless photographers on video as they recounted their personal experiences of that cataclysmic event.
A year earlier we had won another prize, the ONA Best Feature Award, for our huge package, "20 Years of AIDS & Photography," produced by David Friend.
Many of the features we present come from our readers around the world. Martin Lueders contributed "Hope and Horror in Sierra Leone." Philip Blenkinsop took an unflinching look at the horrors of the killing fields in "Extreme Asia." David Brauchli gave us "The Kosovo Diary." When young gunmen killed schoolchildren at Columbine, The Rocky Mountain News in Denver sent us their photographs for the story "Covering the War at Home: The Colorado Tragedy." In 2000, we selected LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt as "Photographer of the Century." We later partnered with LIFE in helping to select "The 100 Photographs That Changed the World." When coalition troops invaded Iraq we selected what we felt were the best photographs from the battlefields.
But it isn't only blood and tears that we cover. There is much more to life than covering conflicts. Especially in the summer months, we have done lyrical features such as Anne Day's beautiful and evocative "The Hissing of Summer Lawns." In July of this year, Barbara Traub took us inside the "Burning Man" festival in the Nevada desert. We went showbiz with Veronique Vial's "Hollywood Splash," then journeyed to the other side of the world to look behind the scenes in "Bollywood Dreams" by Jonathan Torgovnik.
Michael Grecco gave us lighting lessons complete with diagrams to show how he does his wonderful portraits.
It is one thing to show all these wonderful photographs; however, we also knew there were profound trends taking place that would soon change the way visual stories are told. So we created the Platypus Workshops, which have now taught hundreds of photojournalists how to produce professional video. The demand has been so great that in 2008 we will increase the frequency of these sessions to four times a year. We will also be doing nine-day workshops in New Orleans; Ventura, Calif.; The Maine Photo Workshops, and at Indiana University in Bloomington.
These workshops, along with dates, will be announced next month on The Digital Journalist. They are sponsored by our friends at Canon, Apple, Think Tank Photo ASAP and Senheisser.
How do we manage to do all this? Frankly, it is a miracle. Canon generously helps support us, but we depend upon contributions from you our readers, so please make a pledge at "Help Support The Digital Journalist" on our contents page.
Finally, a word of thanks to all those who have played crucial roles in our development. Our Webmasters over these years: David Snider, Mark Kermish, Gina Trapani and Mark Wilke. Joan Gramatte who was there in the beginning to help us with copy editing and design, and came up with our world-famous Platypus logo. Our incredible Copy Editor Cecilia White, who wades through over 30,000 words every month; our Executive Editors Peter Howe and Ron Steinman, who are my right hands; our Dispatches Editor Marianne Fulton, who brings in and edits stories by photographers from all over the world; our E-Bits Editor Beverly Spicer, whose quirky sense of humor lightens the tone of each issue; Conde Nast Creative Director David Friend, who has produced some of our greatest features; our Sponsorship Director Connie White, and Horst Faas, who has shared with us his expertise and thorough reports from across the Atlantic as our Editor for Europe. And our many loyal columnists who have stuck with us over the years, and labored with no pay because they are passionate about the magazine: PF Bentley; Chuck Westfall; Mark Loundy; Terry Heaton; Bill Pierce, whose terrific Nuts & Bolts has been featured since our first issue; Chick Harrity and Jon Canfield, our camera and printer reviewers; Jim Colburn, our tongue-in-cheek correspondent; Jim Gabour, who writes our monthly Letter From New Orleans; Karen Slattery and Mark Doremus, our Ethics editors; and finally Dick Kraus, who writes our Assignment Sheet, providing a forum for local newspaper photographers.
The Digital Journalist is a work in progress. Last month, we broke an important story about a photographer who, for years, had been selling some of the great iconic photographs of all time as his own work. The story came to light after The New York Times, The Nashville Tennessean, The Boston Globe and American Photo magazine had all published obits attributing credit to him. This was the first time we published a breaking news story outside of our monthly schedule. You can expect to see more of these breaking stories in the future.
This magazine is published every month for you, our visual journalist friends, and those of you who wish to learn about the history of photojournalism and its trends.
Please help to support us, so we can stick around for another 10 years.
Editor and Publisher
Back to September 2007 Contents