Marcos Dominguez and I shot and edited this feature on Dr. Steve Herbst for the United Methodist Church. Herbst is one of many talented health professionals who travel to Central America to provide orthopedic surgeries for people who otherwise could not afford them. Operation Walk-Mooresville is organized by Dr. Merrill Ritter. This trip to Nicaragua was Herbst's seventh trip with Operation Walk.
On November 30, Indianapolis Star employees and friends marched in front of the newsroom building on Pennsylvania Street in Indianapolis, Indiana in protest of a 44 percent reduction in staff over three years with accompanying pay cuts and furloughs for remaining employees. Their central message is that Gannett corporate executives have prospered on the cutbacks of employees and that the quality of life of the very people who produce content has been seriously diminished. Additionally, Indianapolis jobs are being moved to Kentucky. From my perspective the quality of coverage of Indianapolis has suffered. When the number of journalists and support staff is reduced, the ability of the paper to be a watchdog on government is also reduced. These are tough times indeed. But it seems the growing disparity between the so-called 1 percent the the other 99, which has fulminated sit-ins and protests across the country centered on Wall Street, has other legitimate targets as well. News corporations seem not to value the very people who create the content their corporate image is based on. This seems to be inherently self-destructive. This behavior results in a cycle of declining quality, which leads to fewer customers, which leads to a dead product and business. There has to be some balance between responsibility to stockholders and to valued employees. To do otherwise is just not acceptable. In the long run, stockholders don't want a ruined business. There are other ways to achieve growth without destroying the infrastructure of your business. Newspapers are more that a building and a printing press. The most important part of news infrastructure is the people who daily create the news we depend upon to provide context to city, state and world events. A vibrant press is so important to our functioning as a society. Without a strong and free press, our government will have little differentiation to the other trouble sports around the globe. History has shown we need to constantly monitor our government. Newspapers have been indispensable in keeping both government and business from running amok. It seems that the balance has swung too far toward stockholders and executive pay options and away from the people who work hard to inform their community.
I recently posted a link to a Foreign Policy web page with some very strong pictures of the war in Afghanistan. Besides being excellent pictures, the unusual characteristic of the pictures was that they were made with an iPhone using the popular Hipstamatic app. Elise Fullam asked, "This is amazing stuff... Do Hipstamatic's visual effects violate the ethics of photojournalism purists?" This issue here is that Hipstamatic does not pretend to be anywhere close to reality in terms of color and tonal range. Indeed, it purposely distorts what the standard iPhone camera app delivers. So the question Fullam is posing assumes that photojournalism should be as real as possible--shouldn't it? Continue reading
New software allows the combination of actual photos to create a new photo with a perspective different from all of the source photos. The idea originated from Burmese government agents identifying protesters by photographing protesters with cameras and then later identifying the creators of protest images by locating the perspective from which the pictures were made. The idea for the new software is to confuse the actual viewpoint of pictures, replacing it with an arbitrary virtual one. Continue reading
Simon Dumenco from AdAge wrote a long and thoughtful message criticizing the Huffington Post's practice of aggregating others work without proper citation. This resulted from a Huffington Post article based on Dumenco's work. Lest I be charged with the same criticism, read Dumenco's message here. Any college graduate should have learned something about proper citation. Rewriting someone else's work and even loosely calling it your own or by format suggesting it is mostly your work is simple not done. But as Dumenco points out there is ample evidence of the practice at the Huffington Post. Writers should learn ethics of writing and when to call research and writing your own and how to properly give credit to other people's creative work. In the present example, Dumenco suggests the Huffington Post scapegoated the writer when the evidence Dumenco presents suggests the Huffington Post method is endemic to the culture of the organization. I agree.
ten newspaper columns in history and Ernie Pyle's 1944 column “The Death of Captain Waskow ” is number one. The first time I encountered this column was in a special display at the Ernie Pyle Museum in Dana, Indiana. I heard the column read and it brought tears to my eyes. I later read the column. There is a rhythm to his words and the honor accorded Captain Waskow by his men is memorialized by Pyle's words. There is no doubt in my mind that the column deserves the recognition as the best column ever written even topping the 1897 “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” by Francis Pharcellus Church. Note: I made the image of the folding straight razor at the top of this blog in the kitchen of Ernie Pyle's boyhood home in Dana, Indiana. The razor was not necessarily the one used by Pyle's father but was part of the period decoration of the home.Ernie Pyle, the beloved WWII war correspondent, wrote, "The first one came early in the morning. They slid him down from the mule and stood him on his feet for a moment, while they got a new grip. In the half light he might have been merely a sick man standing there, leaning on the others. Then they laid him on the ground in the shadow of the low stone wall alongside the road." The National Society of Newspaper Columnists has named the top
The Indianapolis Star laid off 62 employees yesterday. Some of them are my personal friends. There is no joy among those who still have jobs at the Star. Readers who don't follow the business of journalism really should. Without having a functioning press, we cannot begin to attempt to have an informed electorate. Corruption would become the standard method of doing business. The established business model of journalism has failed. It relied too heavily on revenue from print advertising. Continue reading
Terrorism can take many forms and the situation involving Tony Overman is certainly one. Journalists have a hard enough time doing their jobs without people, whom a brain scan would show having none, making life more difficult. I am pleased to see the community support for Overman and his paper. Journalists seek the truth and report it both in words and pictures. When people exercise their own free speech but attempt to deny others their speech by intimidation it should be called what it is--a criminal act. The perpetrators in the present case have no more power of reasoning and logic than a single-celled animal. Congratulations to Overman for persistence in doing his job. I am sorry this happened to you.