Is photojournalism dying?

Russell Boyce's lecture at LSBU

The difficulty of sustaining a profit-based photographical organisation in an increasingly non-profit dominated industry is something that modern-day photographers are struggling with more and more. 

Photographer Russell Boyce has worked as the chief photographer in Singapore, photographed sports, conflicts, elections all around the world and currently is the Middle East and Africa editor for Reuters.

Reuters has been running for over 160 years and is internationally recognised as one of the leading international news agencies around the world.

The problem facing Russell and other journalists around the world is the fact that with the increase in digital citizenship, the need for the paid journalist work is diminishing quickly; especially in the case of photojournalism. With every member of society carrying a camera in their smartphone, it’s easier and easier for members of the public to take semi-professional photographs and post them online or send them to news organisations which eliminates the need for a professional photographer.

Another difficulty in Russell’s line of work these days is that it’s quicker for a member of the public to take a photo and post it on a platform of their choice instantly. Whereas it takes professional photographers up to 10 minutes to get photos sent in from journalists in the field and posted. 

Another way in which organisations such as Reuters can acquire photos is through members of the public sending images in which Reuters will purchase to use. The issue with this however is that the validity and authenticity of the image needs to confirmed before usage. Editors like Russell use software able to check this before posting on their site.

An additional obstacle often faced by journalists these days is the process of doctoring images via programs such as Photoshop. Altering images via photoshop is a sackable offence in most organisations as it destroys credibility. 

Russell claims that the discrediting of other news organisations is rife in the industry however isn’t bothered about doing the same. ‘I’m not interested in agendas’. 

Despite the ease of digital citizens taking their photographs in replace of professional photographers such as Russell, it is no replacement for the know-how of a photojournalist in the industry.