January 9, 2014

The future of photojournalism

Where is news photography headed?

The announcement this week that The Kamloops Daily News will close after 80 years of publication was a shock to the community and to myself personally. The print news industry is nearly finished and the future of journalism and photojournalism is uncertain.

I grew up with the Daily News and embarked on my own photography career at a time when Keith Anderson, Wendell Philips and Debbie Brash were winning awards for photography and photo page design. They and the paper were an inspiration. And now it is all ending.

We are in the midst of a news media convulsion where the past is being dismantled without a clear replacement in sight. But the need for clear and accurate information has never been more acute. I can’t believe that the public will agree to being informed by anonymous bloggers and search engines.  Companies and governments are now masters at spin and managing their messages. If there is no one to question them directly we are at their mercy.

A skilled photojournalist with an ethical approach to photography and an understanding of their subject can convey so much information in a single image. They can cut through the spin and misdirection and get to the heart of a story.

I have been asked many times by photojournalism students about their prospects in the business. I told them that it has never been easier to be a photojournalist nor has it ever been more difficult. Technology has made it so simple to take a good photograph and send that image across the world to an editor. But that same progress in technology means that there are millions of budding photographers out there with consumer cameras or cell phones, all taking pictures and publishing them instantly to Instagram, Twitter or Flickr. The Internet is awash in photographs, the vast majority uninteresting selfies and cat pictures. The visual noise is blinding.

At the other end we have a celebrity obsessed culture that believes they can have their 15 minutes of fame if they can post that one image that goes viral. This leads to a self-indulgent flood of narcissistic  cell phone photos with everyone on the internet vying for attention. The value of all photography published online is devalued with each selfie.

But this too shall pass.


Dennis Owen
Photographer at Exposure


  1. Dad

    Well written, son. You should look into journalism to go with your photography…….!

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