AGSTAR Photojournalism

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What is the matter with the wire service photos?

In the last three years I have seen an increse in errors and mispellings and mistakenly transmited photos.

Just recently AFP had a photo elimination of a student protesting at the Sorbonne in Paris only to have it eliminated because the supposed student turned out to be a photojournalist, clowning around.

Caption corrections are a daily ocurrence. Names of people, cities and rivers are commonly spelled incorrectly. This is the basic stuff they teach you in journalism school.

My guess is that the increase in production and coverage wich digital technology allows has proportionately increased the mistakes in the service. Still when I worked for AP a caption correction was a terrible sin. Having a photo killed was the worst that could happen to your career. It was simply something that was not tolerated by the picture desk.

I can not imagine that this policy has changed much, but I see it everyday in the wires.

My other pet peave is why in the heck do the picture desks insist on sending us low quality TV grabs when the know that good quality images from their local shooters are on the way. In their rush to beat the competition they will send us any TV crap they can get thier hands on. If I am so hard up that I need to do a TV grab to fill in the gap, then guess what? I have several TV's and VCR and computers in my newsroom. I can do a TV grab myself if I am really, really desperate.

But what I will really wait for and expect, to the last minute, is a good print quality photo from the scene. I remember the first images to come out from the subway bombings in Spain several years ago where TV grabs. What the hell for? In a capital city in a major European country, you would think that photojournalist would be able to cover any such event with due speed. And true enough they did. We just waited several minutes after the news alert and we got the images that ran in our cover page and inside.

Most recently with the crash of the air force Galaxy cargo plane. The first 5 images at least, that where sent through the wires where TV grabs. Again, Why? And ggain, true enough, good images soon arrived.

The other thing that drives me crazy is that alternate crop stuff. Hey!! Picture desk editors, either teach yur shooters how to edit to begin with, or stop wasting our time! Any dodo in the newsroom can crop an image if they really need to. From the wire services I expect top quality images the first time. I would rather see a different good image on my monitor than a recropped view of a previous image. Who came up with such an idea? Please stop.

Wire service editors, please. In my newspaper I have three wire photo agencies. I get about 1500 images daily. If its a major event then the number goes up. I also have to go through our local production. The last thing I need is to be waiting for images and get crappy TV grabs. I would much rather get a program update on when you expect to get images from an event. That way I can reassure my bosses on when we will be getting the good stuff. I know you will send out good quality images. All I need to know is when.

well that my rant for the day

Friday, April 21, 2006

Cool Shot of my daughter Hannah during an aproching summer storm at Poneloya Beach in Leon, Nicaragua.
Copyright Tomas Stargardter

Well Finally I am getting started with my blog. This one comes out a a cry in the dark to other fellow photojournalists and photo editors out there. I have been working as photo editor in LA PRENSA, in Managua Nicaragua. For the last three years since I took this job we have managed to get the department going. All of this was done in a non freindly climate towards photojournalist and photojournalism inside the newsroom. I have been basically fighting to fend off attempts to undo all we have done in the last three years to make this a working photo department.

We are now at the point where we were three years ago before my arrival.

For example, no longer editors are requiered to fill photo request forms to inform the shooters as to what they are going to cover.

Instead of a single photo department that handles the requests of the the paper we are now subdividing coverage into sections. Editors now just have a supposed working team but zero palnning is done ahead of time. Everything is done in the spur of the moment. Shooters go out without prior knowledge of thier assignments. Basically we fly blind.

Its shotgun coverage allthe way.

We had gotten rid of this since my arrival but now since the shooters are know in the supposed coverage teams we have regressed to the bad old days of bad coverage and publishing the worst photos.

When I came here, I came here to make a difference. But now I find myself right where I started from, but with less of a chance to correct it.

Well I am not giving up and if I have to start from scratch againg I will (wich is what I am doing anyway) I love this business to much to let be trashed by people who do not want to do thier job properly.

well thats it for now.