Letter from the Publisher

May 2009

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

With the first 100 days of the Obama administration now behind us, we take a look at some of the visual highlights as photographed by the official White House photographer, Pete Souza. This is the second time that Souza has served in this office. He was a junior staff photographer during the Reagan administration. Partly because of his experience working there he was asked by the new president to become his personal photographer. He enjoys close to total access to the chief executive, both in the Oval Office and the Residence and on Air Force One. The other reason that Souza was picked is that he is a really good photojournalist, who has come up from the days of film to document this crucial posting with the most cutting-edge of digital photography. We think you will find this gallery mesmerizing. It is accompanied by Pete's comments on what it is like to be the "shadow" of the most powerful man in the world.

For over 40 years, Bill Luster has been photographing the Kentucky Derby for the Louisville Courier-Journal. His is a familiar face to the jockeys, trainers and owners at Churchill Downs. Covering this event has been a labor of love for Luster, and we share photographs from previous Derbies, as well as the highlights of this year's classic.

In May our take us from the City of London to the State of Texas and on to the country of Zimbabwe. Billy Macrae photographed the G20 riots in London; Texan Lance Rosenfield has a moment to reflect on friends made over the two years he's been photographing a series on Texas small-town rodeos and the local bull riding cowboys who compete, and Will Baxter documents Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic at the same time the country's President Mugabe declares there to be no such thing.

Our executive editor, Ron Steinman, reports on a new documentary film, "Fighting for Life," that takes the viewer inside the heart of the medical care of wounded fighting men and women in Iraq. Director Terry Sanders' 89-minute film is an unblinking look at the care and encouragement the wounded get after suffering their injuries. "Fighting for Life" will have its U.S. television premiere on PBS this month.

Freelance documentary producer Tim Cothren and underwater photographer Steve Simonsen report on their encounter with these wounded warriors, this time under the surface of the Caribbean, as they filmed the adventures of those who had been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan and were now using diving as a way to escape pain and assert themselves as human beings.

As regular viewers of The Digital Journalist are aware, we have many talented people who serve as editors and writers each month. Many of them have had long careers in publishing or broadcasting. Executive Editor Ron Steinman came to us after a career in broadcasting as a producer and bureau chief for NBC News. This month Ron starts a major documentary project on mental health, and he describes his methods as a producer and director, following the age-old traditions of storytelling.

Our contributing editor PF Bentley reports on his treks through the miles of halls in the Las Vegas Convention Center as he covered the National Association of Broadcasters spring get-together. This is the second-largest trade show hosted in Las Vegas every year, exceeded only by the Consumer Electronics Show. It is the ultimate toy store for broadcast, video and online producers. PF reports on some of the notable new things he saw, some of which will become feature reviews in the coming months.

E-Bits Editor Beverly Spicer has discovered there's more to Twitter than one might have guessed from absorbing much inane hype about it. Twitter may in fact be changing the world, and it may already be a fait accompli.

Our new columnist, David Burnett, who American Photo magazine once described as having "been everywhere, but only for an hour," reflects on the many stories he has covered that he wishes he had more time to revisit and explore in depth in "Closing the Circle." It is a valuable look into the mind of one our most talented photojournalists.

Our regular columnists, Bill Pierce, Chuck Westfall, Mark Loundy, Eileen Douglas and Dick Kraus, have their usual provocative and informative articles, and our Ethics editors, Mark Doremus and Karen Slattery, weigh in on what unfortunately seems to be a perennial problem for photojournalists: "When the Cops Push Us Around, Who Pushes Back on the Cops?"

Dick Kraus has a memory of a long forgotten assignment from the early '60s, and a wonderful human being with whom he worked. This true story takes a surprise turn at the end. Read his tribute to "Swifty" in this month's Assignment Sheet.

As I write this, PF Bentley and I have just completed teaching our 35th Platypus Workshop in Portland, Oregon, and have unleashed a gaggle of new Platypai on the world. We understand there is a lot of competition these days among DV workshops. Many of them, such as the NPPA Immersion Workshop, are very good. But what distinguishes the Platypus Workshops is the intensity of our nine-day program, which is truly a boot camp in HDDV storytelling. Also, it is unique in the level of support from our sponsors, Apple, Canon, Sennheiser, Litepanels and Think Tank, which allows us to make sure that every student has their own top-line kit for the workshop. Our next Platypus Workshop will take place at the Maine Media Workshop at the end of July. As our past graduates will tell you, it is probably the best professional investment you will ever make.

We hope you enjoy this issue. Also, you can now keep up with us on Twitter.

Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher