Letter from the Publisher

November 2008

Welcome to the November issue of The Digital Journalist.

TDJ Contributing Photographer David Turnley has spent over two decades covering Nelson Mandela, as he rose from being South Africa's most famous imprisoned political activist to the country's president. During this period, David covered the turbulence that led to change. He has recently published his book "MANDELA!: Struggle & Triumph," which chronicles that nation's emergence from apartheid. It is an epic story.

Four years ago, we published a look at the work of young American photographers. [http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue0404/25.html] One of the problems young photographers face is getting their work published. Since then, many of those photographers profiled have gone on to establish careers for themselves. In this issue we present Volume II of "25 Under 25: Up and Coming American Photographers," edited by Sylvia Plachy, which again focuses on new talent. We wish them well.

This month we have three Dispatches: Jean Chung returns to earthquake-ravaged Sichuan province in China; Paul Taggart investigates the circumstances of Georgian refugees from the 1990 Georgian-Abkhaz war, and Max Whittaker meets residents of a tent city for the homeless in the heart of a gambling center—Reno, Nevada. As a whole, all these stories show the many different faces and hopes of internal refugees (two words never used in the States).

Next month, Canon will come to market with their first hybrid still/video camera, the much-anticipated 5D Mark II. We were able to test it during our Platypus Workshop in Chicago last month. In October, we reviewed the Nikon N90, which is their version of this hybrid. We take a critical look at what is a breakthrough technology in our Camera Corner. Be sure to look at the stunning Vince Laforet video that he shot with Canon's 5D Mark II, and the behind-the-scenes video of how it was done.

Shawn Holmes from NBC NEWS 4 in Columbus, Ohio, became the first real TV cameraman to attend one of our Platypus Workshops. We asked him to do a report about what it was like to enter the Matrix of the Platypus.

E-Bits Editor Beverly Spicer writes this month about how the nature of the photojournalist is to step outside his or her comfort zone. Historically, photos have shown us what is happening and have sometimes changed the world. She thinks we're all outside the comfort zone now that we all participate as citizen journalists, and that truth in iconic images has never been more important.

Executive Editor Ron Steinman is back this month with two articles. The first, "Bucking the Trend," introduces us to an enterprising new picture agency, GHG Photos, which specializes in climate change images. His second is a commentary on his lifelong love of newspapers, "How I Learned to Read."

The recent presidential election campaign, with all the heavy attention paid to its female candidates, leads Eileen Douglas to reflect on "getting the job" – in journalism or presidential politics – in her Reporter's Life piece, "The Woman Thing."

Assignment Sheet's Dick Kraus has another in his series of "In the Presence of Greatness." There is a lesson to be learned from his account of his experience in photographing the renowned photographer Ansel Adams. And that is to treat celebrities as you would any other person, and "To thine own self be true."

Also on board are our regular columnists, Bill Pierce, Mark Loundy, Terry Heaton, and Chuck Westfall with his latest tech tips. Karen Slattery and Mark Doremus, too, are back with another probing ethics column.

Finally, we sadly note the passing of Professor Yang Xiaoguang, a leading photojournalism educator. Tragically, he died in a car accident in Nepal on Oct. 7. Yang was to have hosted our first Platypus Workshop in China at Dalian University early next year. He was hugely respected throughout the Chinese and international photography communities, and will be deeply missed.

We hope you enjoy this issue, and urge you to comment on the articles. The number of comments on our Barack Obama photo gallery by Callie Shell last month were through the roof, and may result in her getting a book contract. Our contributors appreciate your comments very much.

Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher