Letter from the Publisher

August 2009

Welcome to the August issue of The Digital Journalist, the online magazine for visual journalism.

Our cover story this month features Irish photojournalist Seamus Murphy and his recently published book, "A Darkness Visible" (Saqi, London, 2008). Beverly Spicer asks him about his career, the inspiration he took as a boy from American ideals, and his long involvement with Afghanistan and its people. Murphy's book is a retrospective of his work in Afghanistan beginning in 1994. We present a gallery of mesmerizing B/W images and refer the reader to Murphy's multimedia works from GlobalPost.

Last month we began a two-part report examining the difficulties faced by photojournalists in an economy and industry that is in the process of resetting itself, in "Revisiting the Death of Photojournalism: Ten Years Later". In this issue we look at the growing challenges facing the largest employers of photojournalists worldwide, the wire services and photo agencies.

Since the start of the World Wide Web publications have wrestled with the problem of how to monetize their sites. For a long time, newspapers in particular have regarded their online components as "promotion" for their print editions. But now, those papers are struggling with a failing economic model for print, and are turning to their Web sites as revenue generators. However, for many publications it seems the "horse is long since out of the barn." In our editorial, we call on two of the leading newspapers, The New York Times and The Washington Post, to take the bit in their teeth and set up pay walls for their content.

For August we have three Dispatches: Adam Dean on the Uighurs in China; Lisa Wiltse about her work at Double H Ranch, a camp for children with life-threatening illnesses, and David Bathgate continues to send timely dispatches from Afghanistan.

E-Bits editor Beverly Spicer writes about finding Henri Cartier-Bresson and the treasures in store for the photographic community on Facebook.

Executive Editor Ron Steinman looks at the unbridled use of aggregators on the Web but he does not blame them for what they do. Rather, he sees their use as a disturbing trend in how the public gets its news.

In The Reporter's Life, Eileen Douglas' "What's In a Name" reflects on how things were when she started out in broadcast journalism – if you had an ethnic name you likely changed it – and how in today's world there's no longer a need to do that.

Eli Reed reviews the new Olympus E-P1 in our Camera Corner. Cathy Saypol's PR Bootcamp for Photogs offers essential advice for photographers struggling to survive: "network." Bill Pierce mixes greasepaint and photos in the latest Nuts & Bolts. David Burnett ponders the latest demise of photojournalism in his provocative We're Just Sayin' column. Chuck Westfall offers his ever-helpful Tech Tips, while Mark Loundy and Terry Heaton are back with their latest offerings.

The Phantom Artist is the subject of Dick Kraus' memories of a happier time in the newspaper business. The retired Newsday staff photographer writes about the ribbing that befell the unlucky staffer when he or she returned to the photo department after goofing up an assignment. Read about it in this month's Assignment Sheet.

Next month, we will celebrate our 12th anniversary online. Stay tuned for some new features planned that will allow you, our audience, to participate even more in The Digital Journalist.

We hope you enjoy this issue.

Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher