9 March 2012
In November, CNN quietly announced it was laying off "a dozen" photojournalists across its US bureaus as, it says, the network can now rely on user-generated content thanks to new consumer technologies." CNN is not the only news agency that is "laying off photojournalists" We have been feeling this for a long time. The system went from paid, send em' out into the field with all the benefits to find local freelancers that can do the same work for 1/2 the price, to let's just take images (without permission) from the local citizens and publish them. CNN says that "We don't need photojournalist, citizen journalists can do just as good of a job thanks to the new technologies."
A good example are the images that Daniel Morel took of the Haiti earthquake devastation. CNN grabbed the images without permission and the same images later won a World Press Photo prize. There are now legal issues concerning the use of the images. Daniel Morel says, "Our role is important as independent photojournalist to tell the story as it is. I was there to document accurately this tremendous tragedy for future generations." Morel Tweeted 13 of the images he had taken in the earthquake, within hours Agency France Press (AFP) grabbed the images and published them and the images were published worldwide on the front page of major newspapers. Morel wrote to the AFP agencies and asked them to remove the image. They responded with the court system, "accusing Morel of engaging in "an antagonistic assertion of rights". (See David Morel's Legal Tangle)
Unfortunately, CNN missed the point. Look at "Eyewitness", The Guardian, or the Times with their strength in photojournalism with good results. The people who start to publish run of the mill news, will loose the respect from the readers and in the end, advertising funding will start to diminish. The old traditional media still has strengths in its' content, with high quality analysis, photography and in-depth stories. Do you think that CNN will observe proper publishing rights used from social media? I think not.
CNN: We don't need photojournalists! - British Journal of Photography