By JES AZNAR
What we actually want is not just for news organizations to pay, but to have a standardized “professional” rate on their use of visuals because this will eventually force them to think and act as such in terms of visual reporting.
As photojournalists, we love and respect our job and its potential in creating public awareness and influencing policymakers. Yes, photojournalism is a job. It is not some photographic style or a camera setting preset or filter. This means we spend our time honing our skills, and widening our knowledge about the world that we live and work in. The process of educating ourselves is never-ending. We go to classes, undergo a myriad of training, read up on almost anything that is useful for our work, and expose ourselves to elements that many would not even dare want to know.
Why? Because just like text reporters, we want our readers and audiences not only to be informed but also be educated. Photojournalism is journalism. While the text reporter weaves words, we use visual images in our reporting. This not only adds additional color but also depth and dimension to the story that we want the audience to read. Photos give visual stimulation. Visuals elicit emotions. Photos make the readers remember the story or events more than the text. Photos move readers to act because our photos can bite the conscience and hit one’s core hard. There are stories that are more effectively told in words, and there are those that are better told in photos or visuals. In short, photos are not only there to make a page look pretty.
As daily consumers of news, we want what we read to be concise, well-written, well-researched, vouched, vetted, balanced, truthful, and the author fully accountable for. This also applies to photos and visuals as well, lest they forget. We, photojournalists want the readers to be able to level up their visual language as well. Especially now, more than ever, images and pictures are being widely used and shared more than anything else in the world at any moment in this time of social media and the internet.
Bottom line, it’s all about how we deliver the news. It’s about how the public is being helped in terms of visual reporting. And how we all learn not to forsake the very basic form and way of learning and understanding the world around us as human beings.
So no, it’s not mainly about the money. It’s more on how we want this important part of journalism to be accorded the respect that it deserves and not to be neglected by these gatekeepers.
We want you to pay because we work hard for our content. We don’t want to let photojournalism die. News outfits who continue to just grab photos and visuals for free from the internet and those who do not give commensurate professional pay are just helping kill this integral part of journalism.
This piece was originally posted by Jes Aznar in his Facebook account. Reposted by Bulatlat with permission. Aznar is a contributing photojournalist at The New York Times