The Digital Journalist
August 2004

by Beverly Spicer

In these frantic times, much of what circulates via email from desktop to desktop is pure frivolity, serving as light entertainment, sarcasm, or just plain comic relief. Occasionally there is something thought-provoking, something truly revelatory that we've not seen before. With that in mind, this month we present two features: First, a single photo that perhaps was meant to be whimsical yet is at once frightening and darkly entertaining. Second, we give you a collection of photos with commentary that you will surely agree is something else altogether.

In July of every year, the world hears about bulls running through the streets of Pamplona. Googling "running of the bulls Spain" comes up with tips about how to participate in the Fiesta of San Fermin, where to find a safe place to watch, how to sing the prayer for protection from harm, how to run with the bulls if you so choose, and cautions that "making the run on a drunken spree is totally out of order." "Don't try to catch the bulls' attention" it says, because "it could come to a bad end." Well I guess so. Here is proof that at least one of you out there got up close and personal with a camera during an unidentified past year in Paloma, and we have to wonder who you are -- or were -- and what kind of end it all came to for the sake of a thrill and a photograph. At least the .jpeg file is appropriately named, "Camera 4 Sale."

Our second item is a breathtaking piece by a young Russian woman named Elena. This is the kind of photojournalism we'd like for everyone to be doing -- in this case, a woman on her motorcycle, with her camera, takes us to the area of Chernobyl through the so-called "Dead Zone" that was created by radioactive explosions at the nuclear reactor site in April of 1986. Eighteen years later, while the world is still reeling from Chernobyl's tragic accident, and our understanding is still limited by a paucity of information, we have an astonishing view of that reality through Elena's "Pripyat Ghost Town -- My Chernobyl Rides." There are several versions to be found on the web, but I highly recommend starting with the one at Go on Elena's ride with her, read her observations, and view the Dead Zone. We have no further commentary, as Elena's piece speaks volumes. If you are interested in a more expanded version, go to

The Digital Journalist would love to hear from you, and we welcome comments. If you have more information about what appears in this column, let us know so we can share it with others. And don't forget, we're always interested in E-Bits that have captured you like the following have captured us.

Camera 4 Sale
Pripyat Ghost Town -- Elena's Chernobyl Rides

© Beverly Spicer

Beverly Spicer is a writer, photojournalist, and cartoonist, who faithfully chronicled The International Photo Congresses in Rockport, Maine, from 1987 to 1991. Her book, THE KA'BAH: RHYTHMS OF CULTURE, FAITH AND PHYSIOLOGY, was published in 2003 by University Press of America. She lives in Austin.