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April 6, 2010, 9:30 a.m.

Check out the future of photography: The current issue of Nieman Reports

Written journalism isn’t the only form being radically transformed by technology. Sure, the Internet may have eliminated the monopoly that the Gotham Morning News enjoyed, and any web page could be one link away from the attention of millions. But photojournalism is also having both its distribution model and its production model changed. The old client news organizations aren’t paying any more (at least not as much). The price of quality cameras has dropped so much that a skill-less amateur can, almost by accident, create a great shot. And a good photo gets spread around the Internet so quickly that maintaining ownership — and the money that comes with it — can be almost impossible.

Those issues are some of the ones that the current issue of Nieman Reports wrestles with. Where is photojournalism headed? Is it into a headlong embrace of new technologies? Toward a business model that can sustain professional work? Or toward a model in which an army of cameraphones are good enough? As Nieman Reports editor Melissa Ludtke puts it in her intro to the issue:

Photojournalism’s destination and audience, once pre-ordained by the news organizations that paid the cost of doing business, are now in flux. Digital possibilities are limitless, but what is now required of photojournalists are an entrepreneurial mindset and a facility with digital tools. On the Web, photographs now act as gateways to information and context, to stories told by participants and conversations held by viewers.

Here are some of the stories Lab readers will be interested in:

— Ed Kashi writes about shifting to multimedia in the age of declining traditional media.

— Brian Storm talks with Melissa about the new digital distribution model for photography.

— VII’s Stephen Mayes talks about the shifting roles of photo agencies.

— Ian Ginsberg compares photojournalism’s changes to those of the music industry.

— Turi Munthe explains the digital wire service they’ve built at Demotix.

The entire issue is worth your time.

POSTED     April 6, 2010, 9:30 a.m.
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