Letter from the Publisher

April 2008

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

One of the world's great photojournalists, Philip Jones Griffiths, passed away last month after a three-year battle with cancer. He was best known for his searing photographic project, "Vietnam, Inc.," published in 1971. As a Magnum photographer, Philip continued to produce major projects, even as he battled cancer. We previously featured his story "Agent Orange: Collateral Damage," showing how our use of lethal pesticides during the Vietnam War had damaged a new generation of Vietnamese. Along with a photo gallery of his uncompromising work, we present a special memorial tribute to Philip, written by his good friend, Peter Howe.

Sadly, Philip was not the only important photographer that we lost last month. Dith Pran, whose story of survival in the Khmer Rouge genocide in the years following the fall of Cambodia became the subject of the Academy Award-winning movie "The Killing Fields," died of cancer March 30 in New Jersey. After escaping Cambodia in 1979, he became a staff photographer for The New York Times. He was as devoted to his profession as he was to his advocacy of the cause of his fellow Cambodians through the Holocaust Awareness Project that he founded. The NPPA's Donald Winslow shares his report on Dith Pran with us.

Once again this month, we are devoting our second feature to video. Scott Jensen of KTUU in Anchorage was named TV News Photojournalist of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association. This is the second time that Scott has been honored with this prize. We present three stories from his award-winning portfolio, and a fourth piece that he calls his "favorite story." His stories are preceded in each video by an interview with this very special photojournalist.

Our editorial this month points a spotlight on increasing copyright infringements of photographers' works by such Web sites as The Drudge Report. What is shocking is that these sites, which consider themselves to be part of the Fourth Estate, don't seem to understand that copyright laws really do apply to them.

For this issue, Ron Steinman has two pieces on what has become one of the longest political campaigns in memory. In his column called "Debate Cosmetics" he takes a hard look at the TV networks and how they present the debates and then stress the size of their audience, rather than the substance of a debate. In his other piece, "Political Junkie Heaven," Steinman takes a favorable look at Mike Allen's Politico Playbook (www.politico.com) that he receives everyday in his e-mailbox. The site takes no sides but skillfully wraps up politics and other newsworthy events. Steinman says it saves him time and allows him, if he wants, to pursue any of the stories mentioned in Mike Allen's deft roundup.

In April we have three Dispatches and an Update. The dispatches go around the world: Stephen Voss comments on his experience with the McCain presidential campaign in the U.S.A.; Danish photographer Carsten Snejbjerg reports on the internally displaced persons in Georgia at the moment when President George Bush is traveling in the region to promote Georgia's membership in the 59-year-old NATO Pact; Rafael Ben-Ari, an Israeli photojournalist, returns with his coverage of the missile attacks from the Gaza Strip deeper into Israel. In our Update, John Gilhooley writes of more adventures within the music and culture of Los Angeles.

E-Bits editor Beverly Spicer pays tribute to "Frontline," Dickens, the blogosphere, and a wild competition between architectural designs for the GWB Library in "War, War and More War: The Best and Worst of Times."

Our regular columnists, Bill Pierce, Terry Heaton, Mark Loundy, PF Bentley, Chuck Westfall and David Lyman are all on board again for this issue.

"An Opportunity Lost" is what Dick Kraus talks about in this month's Assignment Sheet. Two different photographers from two different publications are assigned the same story. One produces a mundane record of the event. The other wins the Pulitzer Prize.

Todd Feeback of The Kansas City Star recently attended the NPPA News Video Workshop in Norman, Okla. If you are contemplating or actually undergoing the transition from photographer to videographer, be sure to read Todd's report from Norman. It's an inspiring tale of the trials and tribulations – and eventual triumphs – of learning the new language of video storytelling.


We announced in January that we had, in response to demand, increased the number of Platypus Workshops from two to five for this year. It now appears that going to one of these workshops, which have become the best boot camps for High Definition video storytelling in the world, is like eating potato chips. Attend one and you want more.

So, once again, to meet the growing demand, we are adding two new workshops to each of our 2008 boot camps: in Ventura, Calif.; Maine, and now Chicago. The new workshops are PF Bentley's Advanced Final Cut Pro class – which takes the basic FCP training featured in the boot camp to a higher level, suitable for TV and film projects – and Chuck Braverman's Production Master Class – a three-day seminar that discusses the things that producers need to know about pitching a project, setting a budget, legal issues, and even how to enter your project for an Emmy or an Oscar. You will find the new schedule in this issue. We do recommend that you enroll in these classes without delay if you want to attend. They fill up very quickly.

We hope you enjoy this issue.

Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher