Spot-News Photographers: An Endangered Species?

Alan Mutter, former No. 2 editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and now a Silicon Valley VC specializing in new media, questions the future of professional spot-news photographers in his most recent blog post:

With almost everyone packing pixels nowadays, spot-news photographers are the most endangered species at our newspapers … Having joined the crowds in San Francisco who spent Super Bowl Sunday watching the Queen Mary 2 nose under the Golden Gate Bridge, I hastened home to compare the coverage at with that of the San Francisco Chronicle. Although the Chronicle had several fine photographers stationed at key vantage points to record the arrival of the largest ship ever to enter San Francsico Bay, their shots were no better – and posted no more rapidly…

Next time something like this happens, the Chronicle could save a ton of overtime by getting one of the local camera shops to sponsor a contest encouraging contributions from the thousands of amateurs planning to Canon-ize the spectacle. In the process, the paper would prove to readers, advertisers and – significantly – itself just how relevant it remains.

Alan is the latest of many critics who have come to the same conclusion. While certainly citizen journalism will find its place in the business of photojournalism, we stand by the argument made by Andy Goetze:

Being only an eyewitness with a 3 or 5 MP camera phone in the hands, under literally no circumstances, is comparable to the full coverage of an event through a professional photojournalist.

As Black Star’s John Chapnick puts it:

Without dismissing the impact of citizen photojournalism ventures such as Scoopt — which recently integrated Flickr members into its business model — ultimately, there’s no substitute for talent. Superior quality translates into superior value, and we don’t expect that to change.

[tags]photojournalism, Alan Mutter, Andy Goetze, Scoopt[/tags]

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