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Sunday, February 05, 2023

Professional photography isn’t dead, it’s just becoming less appreciated. Newsrooms across the nation are letting go of their professional photographers in favor of less expensive freelancers and amateur photographers. Jobs in photography are decreasing, and photojournalists could be replaced by pretty much anyone with a smartphone. 

However, it seems like the rest of the news industry isn’t doing so great either. 

Newsrooms are simply cutting jobs overall. From 2008 to 2018, jobs within the news industry were reduced by 25 percent. Most of these jobs come from the newspaper sector, and the majority of them are in the photojournalism department. It makes sense with the growing digital age. People don’t really need to support print when everything is online. The lack of revenue is even affecting things close to home. The Tampa Bay Times recently laid off seven of its journalists, one of them being an award-winning sports columnist. 

It’s scary to think that no matter how good you are at your job, you could still lose it if you don’t get enough shares on Facebook. Not to hate on social media, but the increased amount of photo-sharing apps alongside smartphone upgrades can undermine the tools professional photographers use to take great photos.

Today, it seems like anyone can be a photojournalist because of rapid advancements in technology. New smartphones with “professional” cameras keep popping up on the market, and companies only continue to reiterate how progressive they are. Take Apple for example. When the iPhone 11 was released, the first thing the company mentioned was the new camera. What’s one of the biggest differences between the regular 11 and the Pro? An extra camera. Companies like Apple make it easy to take a decent-looking picture that probably didn’t take much effort to capture.

But, this isn’t entirely a bad thing. 

Cameras and editing apps have become more accessible. People who would otherwise be unable to record high-resolution videos and images are now able to do so with their phones. Leslye Davis, a photographer and video journalist for the New York Times, is optimistic, believing there are more opportunities available for photojournalists — especially for women and minorities. 

Although fewer journalists are being sent to photograph abroad, more local journalists have been able to tell their own stories. Instead of an outside perspective, the internet has allowed us to see through the eyes of the community, and get a better understanding of what local people are going through.

If we had to worry about anything, it would have to be the quality of photos that are published. According to the American Press Institute, around 45 percent of photos published at the (Middletown) New York Times Herald were non-professional. 

Professional photographers tend to take more graphically appealing, intimate and emotional photos, which they are trained to do. The American Press also reported the photos captured by professionals were more likely to be featured in better places within the newspaper. 

People seem to enjoy professional photojournalism, but the new way of reporting news doesn’t have much room for it anymore.

It’s impossible to tell where professional photography will go from here, and there is no point in trying to do so. Media is constantly evolving, and photography is no exception. As technology progresses, news media evolves with it, but that doesn’t make the news any less compelling.

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Photojournalism is being passed on to a new generation: everyday people with a drive to tell stories. 

The Editorial Board consists of Zora Viel, Opinions Editor; Amanda Rosa, Editor-in Chief; Kelly Hayes, Digital Managing Editor; and Tranelle Maner, Engagement Managing Editor.

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