This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – it’s been a busy week in journalism with the publication of TIME‘s “Person of the Year – The Guardians and the War on Truth” and World Press Photo’s Lars Boering’s article “on how to build on the #MeToo moment in photojournalism.” Both are must-read articles. Also, this week I chat with Joe Jongue from Fuji X Aus about this growing community of photography lovers.
Freedom of the Press:
TIME’s Person of the Year – “The Guardians and the War on Truth”
TIME magazine has devoted its Person of the Year issue to ”The Guardians”, journalists who have been killed and imprisoned for doing their job. It’s a frightening statement on the state of journalism around the world and how perilous it has become to tell the truth.
In an article on why journalists were chosen as the person of the year, TIME editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal wrote, “Today, democracy around the world faces its biggest crisis in decades, its foundations undermined by invective from on high and toxins from below, by new technologies that power ancient impulses, by a poisonous cocktail of strongmen and weakening institutions. From Russia to Riyadh to Silicon Valley, manipulation and abuse of truth is the common thread in so many of this year’s major headlines, an insidious and growing threat to freedom.”
There are four covers for this year’s TIME Person of Year. Each cover features a different “guardian”:
- Slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose murder in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey was one of the most blatant attacks on the freedom of the press and proved without a doubt how powerful, and how dangerous, reporting the truth can be.
- Maria Ressa who heads up Rappler, faces a prison sentence of up to ten years for supposed tax fraud. Rappler is an online news site which has “chronicled the violent drug war and extrajudicial killings of President Duterte in the Philippines.”
- On June 28 The Capital Gazette a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, lost five employees who were shot dead in the newsroom.
- Jailed Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo who were arrested in Myanmar while covering the Rohingya massacre. Both were sentenced to seven years.
As Karl Vick reports, in what is a brilliant piece of writing, “This year brought no shortage of other examples. Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam (pictured below) was jailed for more than 100 days for making “false” and “provocative” statements after criticizing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in an interview about mass protests in Dhaka. In Sudan, freelance journalist Amal Habani was arrested while covering economic protests, detained for 34 days and beaten with electric rods. In Brazil, reporter Patricia Campos Mello was targeted with threats after reporting that supporters of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro had funded a campaign to spread false news stories on WhatsApp. And Victor Mallet, Asia news editor for the Financial Times, was forced out of Hong Kong after inviting an activist to speak at a press club event against the wishes of the Chinese government. Worldwide, a record number of journalists—262 in total—were imprisoned in 2017, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, which expects the total to be high again this year.”
Story by Karl Vick and photos by Magnum’s Moises Saman.
Call to Action:
#MeToo and Photojournalism: What Needs To Happen Next
This week, in an article for Nieman Lab, Lars Boering, managing director of the World Press Photo Foundation, writes, “The #MeToo movement has, not a moment too soon, caught up with photojournalism. Like many other sectors of society, photojournalism finds its established way of working undercutting its history and purpose.”
In acknowledging that “the investigative reporting of Kristen Chick published in the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), is just the tip of the iceberg,” when it comes to issues with the way women are treated in the male-dominated field of photojournalism, Boering has stepped up the discussion.
“I want to issue a challenge to other organizations in photography and visual journalism. It is time to move beyond the whisper networks that, in the absence of alternatives, women have needed to cope with inappropriate behavior. What can we put in place to ensure that those who experience harassment have a place to go and know their reports will lead to action? We don’t have all the answers, but we are ready to work with others to develop them. So here we go:
“Who wants to join the World Press Photo Foundation in a collaboration to work out the best way to build on the real opening of the #MeToo moment in photojournalism?”
With people like Boering leading the way, there is hope of a cultural change to the pervasive behaviour that has existed in the field for decades. I remember a few years ago writing an article about a retrospective of Australian photographer Sue Ford’s work. Ford had been sexually assaulted in the 1970s in the darkroom of a leading college and gave up her studies because of the harassment. She, as have many other women, went on to become leading practitioners, but at what personal cost?
Read Boering’s article here.
Living One Frame at a Time – Fuji X Aus
In September I had the good fortune to travel to Fiji for the launch of the Fujifilm XT-3. In between playing with the new camera, dining on the beach and swimming in the infinity pool on Fuji Island (yes they paid for the naming rights of a private island for three months – that’s another story, absolute paradise – it really was Fuji in Fiji), I also met some cool people, including Joe Jongue.
Joe is the co-founder, along with Antonio Colaiacovo, of Fuji X Aus a community group that started back when the first XT was released late in 2015. Initially, it began as a support group for people migrating from other brands like Canon, as Fuji’s mirrorless technology was something new to get your head around.
The pair initially anticipated the group might be of interest to a handful of people. Within weeks they had hit 100 members. To celebrate they gave away two $100 vouchers, one each donated by DigiDirect and Fujifilm Australia. Suddenly membership climbed steeply and today they have almost 2000 members around Australia and New Zealand. There are chapters in Melbourne, where it all began, as well as Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.
In the digital space where so many connections are made remotely, Fuji X Aus offers the best of both worlds; the opportunity to be part of the group online and in real life. “The idea of community is to connect other like-minded individuals who come together to talk about their experience and passion for photography and also about Fujifilm cameras in general,” says Joe. Each chapter has its own activities agenda, which includes regular meet-ups, photo walks, photo trips to regional areas, workshops and competitions.
The online community is very active. There is a blog, and being an egalitarian group, members contribute stories so it is the voice of many, which further adds to the sense of community. They’re testing the waters with podcasting too. “We also post highlight videos that give our community members a feel for the events we participate in,” adds Joe.
Members are encouraged to ask questions, which are often replied to within minutes. “Everyone contributes and helps each other,” says Joe who is enthusiastic about the way the community is developing and the friendships being formed.
As the group has grown it has forged alliances with retailers including Ted’s Cameras, George’s Cameras and DigiDirect, who they partner with on various activities. Fujifilm Australia is also a supporter, hence Joe’s presence at the XT-3 launch in Fiji. Members comprise enthusiasts, amateurs and professionals including some of the Fuji X Ambassadors.
Fuji X Aus also hosts workshops on topics like ‘how to shoot with flash’ and ‘how to take portraits’. There is also a concerted effort to draw women into the group and Joe says they have dedicated events for female photographers.
Natalia Naa is the admin in Melbourne, and she has helped grow the female membership, which now makes up 25 per cent of members. “We want to see more women come into the group so we encourage our female members to come out to events and participate in discussions. We recently held a female only event because we are aware that sometimes women feel uncomfortable in those mixed events that are male-dominated and can be very blokey.”
It is free to join but is a closed group for Australia and New Zealand residents only. You also need to own a Fuji X camera or are about to buy one. Visit the website for more details.