Tragedy & Photojournalism

With the recent hurricane Sandy sweeping USA, the online media has been busy covering the catastrophe that has affected the lives of many. I remember a few lessons back, one of the groups mentioned the efforts of news channels in providing timely updates about the tragedy throughout the online media and how citizen journalism is also playing a part in providing the updates. Being timely is yet another advantage of interactive multimedia journalism. However in the event of a bad storm that disrupts internet connection, one will still have to rely on traditional media like the radio for news updates.

I recently read an article ‘The Failure in Crowd-Sourcing News Photos’. The article talks about how in this day and age almost everybody can be called a photojournalist. However these ‘photojournalists’ may not necessarily be taking the right pictures. The writer also mentions that those ‘photojournalists’ are also not very sensitive and conscious about the captions they give their photos often obscuring the entirety of the piece, leaving viewers clueless. I agree with the writer in saying that more often than not, its not the actual catastrophe (crashed cars, fallen trees etc) that needs attention. But rather the repercussions, the rebuilding works needed etc. Perhaps when the catastrophe first hit, we would all expect imagery of the event to appear in the media however when too much of such imagery is being produced after the event, then its considered sensationalizing.

Then the writer also mentions that more often than not, its the people with access to the technology taking the photos and they take photos around themselves, leaving the stories of the less fortunate who are geographically further untold. Even when their stories are covered, it is always through the lens of an outsider. Given the opportunity to show us their stories, i am sure the victims of the situation will be able to shed more light about their situations. So then again, here we are back to the point about journalism being a powerful tool for change (as mentioned in one of my past post). There needs to be more meaningful coverage of catastrophic events and less sensationalized angles.

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