Letter from the Publisher

June 2009

One of the world's most distinguished photojournalists, Maggie Steber, has worked in 59 countries, usually on social, political and cultural issues. But for the past 20 years she has devoted much of her time to photographing American Indians. As she says, "They are magical and frustrating subjects. It requires time to win their trust, because they have been abused for as long as Europeans have been in America." Maggie Steber's artist's statement, which accompanies this feature, says plainly that she (one-quarter Cherokee), like the Natives, is caught in a battle against stereotypes. As a photographer, she has to break through what the public, particularly photo editors, expect to see: Indians living in teepees and wearing feathers.

Marianne Fulton has edited this cover essay, and introduces the feature.

Collateral triggers, quants, toxic assets, toxic securities, underwater neighbors, credit default swaps, ratings and arbitrage – these are the words people are reading today in their newspapers. And to go with this new lingo are names like Steven Pearlstein, Paul Krugman, Joe Nocera and Floyd Norris, the people that our executive editor, Ron Steinman, calls "the new stars of journalism" as he looks at how the financial crisis has made the business section the "go to" part of newspapers and the Web. He also takes a hard look at many of the proposals to save our dying newspapers and asks if any or all will work in a world where too many people want to get their news for free.

And who are the next wave of journalistic stars? Eileen Douglas interviews young wannabes in "So You Want To Be a Journalist."

For June three Dispatches take us first to Vietnam, then China and finally Baghdad, Iraq. Justin Mott met and continues to visit a young blind girl who has multiple disabilities in Friendship Village outside Hanoi. Sean Gallagher received a travel grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting this year to pursue his exploration of social and environmental issues in Asia. In Baghdad again, Chris Hondros has a couple of comic exchanges with his driver and takes a train ride.

In Camera Corner this month, Chick Harrity reviews the new Nikon D3x, and we take a look at some new add-ons for the Canon 5D Mark II. In his Nuts and Bolts, Bill Pierce makes a compelling argument for black-and-white photography. Mark Loundy and Terry Heaton are both back with more insight, and Chuck Westfall answers your questions in Tech Tips. And talking about cameras, David Burnett laments the passing of film in his We're Just Sayin' column.

Many photographers today worry that they are also a passing phase. With newspapers dying, magazines shrinking, and the Web underpaying, how do they keep their careers moving forward? In this issue we introduce a new bi-monthly column by Cathy Saypol, PR Boot Camp For Photogs. Cathy is one of the best-known book publicists in the industry. She has spent years working with some of the world's top photographers, and in her column she offers tips on how you can stand out and stay alive professionally.

E-Bits editor Beverly Spicer writes about President Obama's reversal of his initial promise to release 2,000 additional classified photos of detainee abuse, and what the torture debates ultimately mean to photojournalists as well as to the rest of us.

Last month, one of the great characters in photojournalism died in Hong Kong. Hugh van Es was best known for his iconic photograph of Vietnamese and Americans clambering up a ladder to a waiting helicopter during the final, frantic hours of that long war. Last week, legions of his friends showed up for a real old-fashioned wake at Hugh's favorite bar in the Foreign Correspondents' Club. Two of those friends, Vaudine England of the BBC and Kees Metselaar, a Dutch photographer, report on this memorable occasion.

Retired Newsday staff photographer Dick Kraus talks about the estimated 29,610 assignments that he figures he shot over the 9,970 days he worked in the 43 years of his career. He loved his job, but did he love all 29,610 assignments? See what he has to say in his Assignment Sheet journal this month. It's called "What's It All About?"

In early May, we held the 35th Platypus Workshop in Portland, Ore. Maya Alleruzzo of The AP and Dennis Whitehead, a freelance photographer from Washington, D.C., share their experiences. We present the prize-winning projects as streaming video along with their reports. We also have a testimonial page where some of the more than 300 Platypus graduates speak about their transformation from shaky amateurs to talented VJ storytellers. You will recognize many of their names. There is still time for you to become a Platypus at our Maine Media Workshop in July and August, but you'd better hurry!

Speaking of video, besides our Platypus Workshop projects from Portland, we also feature two other videos this month. David Burnett and Time have produced a timely tribute to those D-Day veterans who fought on the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago. On a less somber note, I spent three wonderful evenings last month at the Palm Springs Follies and came away with a video on "The World's Oldest Showgirl," Dorothy Dale Kloss, who is still hoofing at a youthful 85 years of age.

We hope you enjoy this issue, and look forward to seeing you in Rockport!

Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher