Monday, January 16, 2012

Photojournalists should first have a keen sense of what news is

   What is news?
   That's a good question that really doesn't have a definitive answer. News means different things to different people. What is news to me might not be news to you. That's the challenge of trying to answer this question.
   So, what's news? Let's start with why we need news. According to David Zeeck, who wrote an article on this subject for the Poynter Institute, “News is the ultimate manifestation of a human desire to know what’s going on, to make sense of the world, to catch up on the latest.”
   Okay. But how do we find out what's going on? Who helps us make sense of the world? Journalists do. It's a journalist's job to report on whatever is deemed “news,” make sense of it, then share that information with others. Report. Explain. Share.
   Photojournalists do the same thing, with the added task of reporting the news in a visual way. To a photojournalist, news means house fires, car accidents and political campaigns. It also means shooting food arrangements, rich people at society events and kids having fun at a playground. And don't forget sports and entertainment.
  To document life around us, photojournalists should have a keen sense of observation, anticipation and reaction. We need to be curious about life, even when it's extremely boring. But most importantly, we must understand that we are the eyes of our community. Without photojournalists, society would be blind. Can you imagine if we didn't have photos to prove that the Holocaust existed?
   The homework assignment this week focuses on this topic, because before they begin to represent this class as scholastic photojournalists, they must understand the responsibility that comes with that title.
   Their homework includes:
  • learning the history of journalism. One of their first blog posts will be on what they learned in the history chapter of their textbook, Photojournalism: The Professionals' Approach; and in the Poynter NewsU course: The Building Block of News.
  • studying an issue of the local paper. They are to label the parts of a story and of a page.
  • filling out a questionnaire to see if they got what it takes to be a journalist.
   Once they have a good, basic sense of what news is (which is life-long lesson), they will learn their ethical and legal rights as photojournalists.
   The students will create their blogs next week, and they can tell you themselves what is news to them.

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