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

The Digital Journalist

Letter from
the Publisher

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

Over the course of his career, photographer Steve Schapiro has been privileged to turn his lens onto some of the great figures of contemporary American history. Later this month, his new book "Schapiro's Heroes" arrives in bookstores. It is an affectionate and compelling in-depth look at Martin Luther King Jr., Truman Capote, Robert F. Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Muhammad Ali, Andy Warhol, James Baldwin, Barbra Streisand, Samuel Beckett and Ray Charles. These are "heroes" in Schapiro's view, who shaped our history and culture in the last half of the 20th century. Our David Friend introduces our cover feature.

Meanwhile, in our second feature, Les Stone has documented the mysterious world of voodoo in Haiti. Over countless trips, Les was admitted into a bizarre culture that has rarely been photographed. PF Bentley has provided a video documentary on Les' "Voodoo" work.

In November four Dispatches look at current events: Sandy Huffaker and Sean Masterson take us into the flames and acrid smoke of the California wildfires; Paul Taggart was on the scene before and after the suicide explosion that rocked Karachi, Pakistan, when Benazir Bhutto returned from exile. In addition, he presents a down-to-earth look at the life of a photojournalist. And Will Baxter ducked bullets and sheltered with residents while covering the recent aborted freedom marches of Buddhist monks in Burma (Myanmar).

Managing Editor Ron Steinman recently attended the annual conference of the Online News Association in Toronto. He reports on what Web editors are discussing as new technology continues to revolutionize the way we receive information.

Ron, who was a senior producer for both NBC and ABC before he came to The Digital Journalist, has been watching CNN's "Situation Room" on his iPod – a program that he says makes him "dizzy." In his monthly column, Ron examines the trend in TV news to "break" news -- any news as long as it seems fresh -- before anyone at CNN or elsewhere understands what it is.

In their Ethics column, Mark Doremus and Karen Slattery report on the escalating conflict of interest between editorial and advertising. In a recent memo leaked to the Memphis Flyer, the editor of The Commercial Appeal, Chris Peck, and the VP of Sales and Strategic Planning, Rob Jiranek, told The Commercial Appeal employees that the traditional firewall between the news, advertising and circulation departments was no longer necessary in the "new world" of media economics. They observed that news, marketing and advertising departments needed to "work cooperatively to develop products that can generate revenue." Employees at the Memphis newspaper revolted against the decision, and it was rescinded, but this disturbing incident sounds a cautionary note to everyone in journalism.

Last month, photographer Ernest C. Withers, a pioneering figure in documenting black culture, died at the age of 86 in his native Memphis. Eric Meola writes a moving tribute to a man he considered one of his own "heroes."

In spite of the fact that most photojournalists now have moved from film to digital, the video industry in prosumer cameras has been locked into their equivalent of film – tape – despite the move to High Definition. Last month Sony broke away from the pack with the first flash card, hard-drive acquisition system with their new camera, the Sony XDCAM tapeless camcorder. Nigel Cooper reviews the camera in our Camera Corner.

E-Bits editor Beverly Spicer has a passion for the subject of perception. She presents an interesting test to determine which side of your brain dominates, the right or the left. She discusses the workings of the different hemispheres of the brain and how they relate to photography. Lastly, for fun, she presents a two-minute video that promises to take us on a hallucinogenic trip through our own eyes.

Eileen Douglas returns to the November Assignment Sheet with another well thought out journal, "A Reporter's Life: Good News, Bad News." The veteran journalist talks about how a "good" news story is usually some person's or persons' "bad" news. As she says, "Working in news, in fact, even if one knows the value of his or her work, is more often than not 'making money at the other man's skin.'" Assignment Sheet editor Dick Kraus asks, "How many times do you have to click the shutter before you know that you have THE shot, that elusive 'Magic Moment'?" His "Through a Lens Dimly" journal is called "Click."

Our regular columnists, Bill Pierce, Mark Loundy, Terry Heaton, PF Bentley and Chuck Westfall are all at their posts again this month, enlightening and entertaining us as usual.

And finally, once again this year, Dan Havlik gives us a tour of the recent "PhotoPlus Expo" show in New York City, and reports on all the "cool" new products discovered at the exhibition.

We hope you enjoy this month's issue. Please pass on the word to your friends and colleagues.

Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher

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