Author Mark E. Johnson

By Us, For Them

Two pieces floated through the ether to me this morning. The first is a personal essay by the Boston Globe’s John Tlumacki, reflecting on his coverage over the last year of the Boston Marathon attacks and subsequent recovery. His work on the recovery of the victims is just as strong as the work he produced last year – work that, in my mind, deserved a Pulitzer Prize this year.

I needed to be here today, to relive all the photographs that haunted me for the past year.

But the difference now is I have the strength to be able to go back and not feel afraid, or guilty. I know that the Corcorans are now my dear friends, and it makes me proud to know that my photographs showed the terrible toll that terrorism did to such an incredible family.

The second piece comes from the SeattlePI.com’s Jordan Stead as he reflects on the coverage of the Oso mudslide that has taken, so far, 36 known lives. Here’s what resonated with me:

The photographs I made while covering the Oso tragedy are not for me. They weren’t made for my portfolio, to win awards or to sensationalize. Those first two days, I made pictures with an effort to humanize the victims of the tragedy — not to belabor the damage or to scoop other news outlets.

I do, however, take some issue with this:

In times of great sadness, tragedy and personal loss to others, a journalist’s job is to clearly, accurately and respectfully report the story to an audience, keeping dignity at the forefront. While “clearly” and “accurately” smack of journalism school requirements, “respectfully” is often passed over.

I don’t know what experience others have had in their university programs (or even if he’s tying respect to journalism schools), but I do know that here my kids get the message that what we do is a partnership between subject, journalist and reader – that respect is high on the list of priorities, balancing the needs of those we report on and those for whom we report.

We are human, what we cover affects us. It affects us as members of our community and as individuals, we must have ways to deal with those emotions. I’m phenomenally proud of the work my colleagues here at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication have done over the years to ensure we do talk about the emotional and psychological impact of what we do.

Over the last few years, through the McGill Symposium for Journalistic Courage, we have brought Tlumacki, Carolyn Cole, Eric Gay, W.A. Bridges, David Handschuh and Jeff Roberts to the building to talk about the impact their wok has had on their readers and themselves. Tlumacki and Roberts, in particular, brought the room first to silence and then to tears – brash students and hardened faculty members, emotionally overwhelmed.

Just this semester, we have hosted the Ochberg Society for Trauma Journalism with a display and panel discussion and, tomorrow, have Jessica Handler here to talk about Writing Through the Tough Stuff.

Visual journalism isn’t about cameras, lenses, post-processing or even just being there. It is about people, it is about telling stories that matter for your community and to your community.

Local Talk on Covering Grief and Loss

The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication is hosting Jessica Handler on Thursday, April 17, for a luncheon talk on covering grief and loss.

It’s free and there’s pizza, why wouldn’t you want to come?

Making Something Great

Sometime tomorrow, the Boston Globe will release a documentary on five runners who did finish last year’s Boston Marathon – and this could be amazing. For those in New England, it airs on NESN tonight at 9:30.

Reporter Geoff Edgers and multimedia producer Darren Durlach were simply told, “Just make something great” by the Globe’s editor, Brian McGrory.

I hope it is.

The Story of Bliss

It’s going to be a stormy week here in Athens, so for all of you who have ever fired up a Windows XP machine, here’s the story behind the iconic wallpaper.

The Camera as Companion

Preach it, Dave LaBelle, preach it.

Why can’t I say things like that?

More Info on Business Practices

Alum Dylan Wilson sent along a link to a post by Robert Seale on business practice for photographers, a very good read.

Towards the end Seale has a list of books you must own, I’ll add one more that’s due out this summer – John Harrington’s More Best Business Practices for Photographers. Harrington talked about this book at the NPPA’s Northern Short Course last month and I’ve already preordered it. This is not an update but a new book and it will have a stellar section on the mechanics of registering images with the copyright office – that alone will be worth the $25 for you.

AP Photojournalist Shot in Afghanistan

Sad news – Associated Press photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus was, essentially, executed in Afghanistan. Reporter Kathy Gannon was also shot while sitting in a car stopped along a roadside.

The two were traveling with election workers in a convoy that had stopped when a man walked up to the car and opened fire.

Getty Grants for Editorial Photography

Getty Images is putting up 5 grants worth $10,000 each for photojournalists pursuing major projects. There’s an addition $10,000 grant for a project focused on “women or girls achieving positive results in their communities or personal lives.”

This is a fantastic chance for students to get a major grant to fund things they are passionate about. Applications are being taken through May 15, but don’t put this off – start writing now.

Ochberg Society Exhibit in Athens

We will be hosting a traveling exhibit of images from the Ochberg Society for Trauma Journalism here at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication for the next few weeks. It opens on Thursday, April 3, with a 4 p.m. panel discussion featuring CNN’s Jan Winburn, Moni Basu and David Rust, and ShareWIK’s Diana Keough.

This is open to the public and will be in the Drewry Room on the second floor of the college.

Pioneer Press Going All iPhone, Big Nikon Sale Ahead

Ben Garvin sent along a link to a note this morning saying the Pioneer-Press is going all iPhone for photography. Hard to argue with their reasoning, really.

Also, all their Nikon gear will be going up for sale shortly on eBay.

Given the trends in the industry and the cost cutting at the university, I have been seriously rethinking the way we teach our photojournalism courses, as well. To ensure there is no financial barrier to a student succeeding, we supply everyone with cameras and lenses. Obviously, that isn’t cheap and we are constantly a little behind on technology.

I have a proposal to send to the dean recommending we shut down the Photo Cave, surplus all the gear and purchase 50 iPod Touches and gift cards for the App Store. As Garvin noted, there are lots of cheap apps, we can do this faster and it’ll save on chiropractic care.

Thoughts?

As a reminder, turn your calendar page over this morning …