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Friday, 29 October 2010

Journalism Now

Photojournalism in the Early 20th Century

At the beginning of the 20th Century, it was believed by the majority of the public that everything seen in a photograph was true. Photojournalism soon became a distinctive form of photography. Unlike in the 21st Century, it was impossible to tamper with photographs using a computer. This meant that they were used as irrefutable evidence which was supported by empiricism and modernism.

The New York Times started publishing photographs in 1896, and newspapers across the world soon did the same. When photos first appeared in newspapers, they were mainly staged photographs. Photographs helped to project a professional appearance and presented the view that journalists could be relied on to deliver the facts.

In the early 20th Century it was much easier to establish truth from pictures taken by journalists. Scholars began to observe photojournalism, claiming that a camera pointed in a certain direction can still include and exclude particular information.

Photography had been the most significant means of recording in the 20th Century. Politicians and celebrities started to style themselves with the knowledge that they would be photographed. It enabled Journalists to capture important moments during that time: including photographs of Winston Churchill hearing he was re-elected.

One famous American photographer was Lewis Hine. His photographs’ in the 1900’s showed immigrants arriving in America through Ellis Island. Some of his other photos helped change child labour laws. These were early signs of the impact that photojournalism could have on the public.

By the 1930s, photojournalism had entered a ‘golden age’. Photographs were sent by electronic means from remote locations to picture agencies and magazines. Illustrated magazines then began to compete with newspapers, until that point photography was seen just as a way to support the text. This increasing variation of magazines available in both Europe and America meant that many photographers were employed to illustrate the articles, educating readers about political and social issues. Newspapers such as The Daily Mirror gained good reputations and a large number of readers because of the photography they used. Gradually, the profession evolved, which lead to roles such as picture editors.

The influence of photojournalism grew dramatically during World War 2. News photographers were expected to consistently report the truth through their images. A magazine called Life was first published in 1936, containing a strong emphasis on photojournalism. The magazines use of photographs received a positive reaction from their readers. The publisher, called Henry Luce, believed that pictures could tell a story to the magazine’s readers instead of accompanying the text as illustration.

Rolled photographic film enabled photographers to take a sequence of images, which lead to a more narrative structure when the photos were published collectively. This style was used regularly by magazines, and the collections of photographs were placed in double-page spreads by picture editors. Gradually, photojournalism was used in more influential ways, because of photographers utilising lighting and scenery to produce a desired effect.

Daniel Mackrell
The Burden of Visual Truth – Julianne H. Newton
Photojournalism and Today’s News – Loup Langton


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