In response to the entry : Dying in Africa , Eliane Laffont wrote :
Photojournalists believe their photos can change the world and history show that, for the most part, they get results.
Lewis Hine photos changed the Child Labor law, Eddie Adams photo of the police chief executing a Vietcong soldier contributed in large part to the end of the war in Vietnam, Eugene Smith photos of mercury pollution made us aware of the environment, Stephanie Sinclair photo essay of child brides gave us a clear idea of the physical social sexual abuse these young girls endure and with these photos, most civilized countries have now defined the age of consent to 18 years, and thanks to the photos taken at Abu Graib, we know now that prison abuse really happened in Iraq and actions were taken to stop it.
The list of remarkable stories told by remarkable photographers is endless and I want to name a few who worked also in Africa. Their mission to raise global awareness of the problems of this extraordinary place. Africa, vibrant continent in transition and ongoing wars, encompasses 53 nations, nearly a billion people and more than 800 ethnic groups but also plagued by wars, famine, and genocides.
James Natchways poverty in Rwanda, Marcus Bleasdales genocide in Darfur, Tom Stoddarts Aids in Sub Sahara, Ed Kashis oil pollution in Niger, Sebastio Salgados North African immigrants, Brent Stirtons killing of gorillas in Congo, JP Laffonts child soldier in Angola, Pascal Maitres children orphaned by wars and Aids in Burundi and the list goes on.
Some of these photos will make you sick and hopefully they will make you angry as those problems matter and you want the world to have a good look at it and take action. To say that Africa has become a perverse playground for photojournalists show a lack of knowledge and a lack of compassion.
Without these photos, no knowledge of the problems and without photojournalists, no action to repair them Photojournalism is a code of conduct and photojournalists are our modern heroes. Over the last 10 years, the landscape of photography has changed considerably and Visa Pour lImage in Perpignan has become the capital of photojournalism, the last place that save defenseless people from oblivion, force you to have a look at problems that matter and reward the photojournalists who took action, sometimes at the risk of their lives.
Eliane Laffont fait a NYC le 19 Avril 2010
That is the perfect example of the junk spread by the media. It’s just a fact twister, although I am quite sure the author feels this chain of unproven facts give her some sort of justification.
Let me take it piece by piece. I’m talking about my feelings and my experiences and I don’t imply that I know everything.
Photojournalists do not think about justice. They are told they might serve it. But most of them either think of selling the pictures – the freelancers – or getting the job done – the staff photographer.
The examples are just taken out of a very large hat of positive examples. They are not too well thought or documented. The Abu-Gharib photos are NOT the product of journalism. Some of the soliders kept some mementos. Somebody just took them out and gave them to the press. That somebody was not a journalist, nor a photog.
People twisting facts this way are poison to the media. No matter how well intended they are in the end they just try to manipulate, they serve an agenda which in most cases isn’t even theirs. They are just pawns in a larger game of propaganda. Using this propaganda techniques she talks about the hundreds of photos made by hundreds of journalists that DID make a difference. She is missing the hundreds of thoudands of journalists who did nothing more than make a fast buck with a sensationalist picture of a body. There is nothing about privacy, about decency, about the right to die or suffer with dignity. And while I agree that the ones who chose the public life somewhat deserve the paparazzi fenomenon (which they welcome) there are so many more who did nothing to deserve such disgrace.
Also the implication of this twist are disgusting. With the explosion of phone cameras people are even less willing to help in case of emergency because they are “documenting” this. And it’s misinformed people like this writer who encourage this drop in human decency, this disolution of the human bond.
Sure, a good photojournalist can assist some drama and coldly take pictures in order to improve something. But in this money-hungry, drama-starving media it’s not the case. She is forgeting the hordes of de-humanised beings who are totally disconected with the reality around them, just waiting to catch the Pulizer-photo.
What is even more criminal is to just turn your back to the reality and start preaching. The photos of Abu Gharib have generated a shockwave. They helped sell some magazines. They made some analysts write some articles. They helped some dry political tv shows more alert. In short: they have fed a lot of journalists. Yet, the situation in Iraq is the same. A few extreme cases were moved more underground. There still is a Guantanamo Bay. And mortality in Iraq is higher than ever. And I have no idea how much money were sent to improve the medical system there by the jackasses who made a good living beating aroung the bush with this system.
Take any other “successful” case. After making people “aware” the photog gets more money to go exploit some more suffering. I don’t know when the money made like this paid for a prostetic limb, but I do know wen they bought a new gadget or camera for the smart guy.
Also do not forget that the vast majority of photo journalists are not the ones who get killed, but the ones who get embedded. They get a nice reality show presence with an army convoy. They know nothing about the realities in the field. But they come back and try to pose as heroes. At the same time these guys just get the “different angle” to make the story of the invader more sympathetic. Anybody who has a shred of humanity inside and believes in those empty slogans waved by the one who wrote this article would refuse to go embedded. Yet most go this way. Does that say anything?
To call these heroes? Hero is the one who misses a pay check to help save someone.
Finally, for those who still go with the propaganda here’s a nice poster: http://www.theonion.com/articles/for-only-5-per-month-you-can-help-continue-photogr,10457/