Welcome by Dirck Halstead - The Digital Journalist (October 2007)
The Digital Journalist

The Digital Journalist

Letter from
the Publisher

Welcome to the October issue of The Digital Journalist.

Robert Capa is acknowledged to be the icon of conflict photography. From the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, through his famous coverage of D-Day, to his death at age 40 in Indochina in 1954, he was on virtually every front line for over two decades. However, as the expression goes, "behind every great man stands a great woman." For Capa, that woman was his collaborator and lover, Gerda Taro. A strongly influential force in his early career, Taro was with him in Spain, often photographing at his side. Sadly, her life was cut short in Spain when she was crushed by a tank. She was only 26 years old. For the past 70 years, her life and work have remained largely unknown to the public. But thanks to a remarkable exhibition currently at The International Center of Photography in New York – on view alongside a show of Capa's work – Gerda Taro has finally been given a chance to emerge from the shadow of her legendary partner. We are proud to present highlights of these exhibits as this month's cover story, along with an appreciation by Ron Steinman.

In the summer of 2006, Paolo Pellegrin and writer Scott Anderson covered the carnage in Lebanon. They both found that this was a different war from any they had ever experienced. The battlefield shifted daily. Waiters who brought them coffee were shooting rockets at Israeli positions a few hours later. Pellegrin and Anderson have recently published a book, DOUBLE BLIND, which testifies to the horrors of a war that Pellegrin claims "is a harbinger of the 'modern' wars to come." Pellegrin, who is a member of Magnum, the agency that Capa co-founded, was awarded the 2007 Robert Capa Gold Medal for his work on this story. View his compelling B&W photo gallery in this issue and you will see why.

In July two TV helicopters collided over Phoenix while covering a car chase. Four newsmen were killed in the crash. Although this was the first mid-air collision of TV choppers, there have been too many near misses in the past few years. In our editorial we look at the pressures these pilot/journalists are being put under on a daily basis to lead the evening news in "Look Up, Look Down, and Look Around to Live."

This month our Dispatches come from Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, exploring the ubiquitous use of cell phones in Tokyo, and Carsten Snejbjerg, reporting from Greece about the August wildfires.

E-bits Editor Beverly Spicer explores the rise of Citizen Journalism exhibited in the last days of September during the official crackdown against anti-government demonstrators and attempts to suppress information by suspending Internet services in Myanmar.

In our Camera Corner this month, Jon Canfield reviews the new Canon iPF6100 wide-format printer.

We are embarking on our eighth year of conducting the Platypus Workshops, aimed at teaching photojournalists video production for the Web, television and film. In 2008 we are increasing the number of these workshops to five, in order to try to meet the growing demand for spots. Each workshop has a limit of 12 places. For our Shoot 'n' Edit we will be moving around the country, doing workshops in New Orleans; Ventura, Calif.; at the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport, and at Indiana University in Bloomington. We will also continue to conduct our special two-day Short Courses for individual newspapers. We are publishing the 2008 schedule in this issue. We strongly recommend that those who want to attend register as soon as possible. The spots go very quickly. To learn more about the workshops, read the September/October issue of HD Video Pro magazine, now on the newsstands.

Our columnists, Bill Pierce, Peter Howe, Terry Heaton, Mark Loundy, Chuck Westfall, Jim Gabour, PF Bentley and Jim Colburn, all have provocative columns again this month.

Assignment Sheet for October presents the final episode of "Life Before Digital" by retired Newsday photographer Dick Kraus. At least it's what he says is the final episode. But, who knows? In "Life Before Digital: One Last Time," he talks about the problems of finding your way to a poorly defined location and how much easier it is now with a GPS in your car. Also offered is "A Reporter's Life: Wanting It," by Eileen Douglas. While Eileen isn't a photographer, her view on what it takes to be a good journalist goes to the heart of the issue and pertains to writers, editors, TV journalists and still photographers. This should be a must-read for anyone in the profession and especially for anyone thinking about it.

Peter Turnley and Harper's Magazine have just won a landmark Supreme Court decision that is of great importance to photojournalists. Read all about it in our "Breaking News" section.

Finally, it is with great sadness that we have to announce the death of our colleague, Alexandra Boulat, one of the founding photographers of the VII Photo Agency, and the daughter of veteran LIFE magazine photographer Pierre Boulat and Annie Boulat, the founder of Cosmos photo agency. Alexandra suffered a brain aneurysm in June while covering the West Bank, and died in a Paris hospital on Oct. 5. She will be missed.

Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher

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