Sortir du Cadre (Think Wider) Future of photojournalism - Eng - by Gerald Holubowicz
The death of journalism is bad for society, but we’ll be better off with
less photojournalism. I won’t miss the self-important, self-congratulatory,
hypocritical part of photojournalism at all. The industry has been a fraud
for some time. We created an industry where photography is like big-
game hunting. We created an industry of contests that reinforce a hyper-
dramatic view of the world. Hyperbole is what makes the double spread
(sells) and is also the picture that wins the contest. We end up with car-
toons and concerned photographer myths (disclaimer: yes, there are
photographers doing meaningful work)
Of course I am worried about how I will make my living now, and I wor-
ry for my friends and colleagues too, but I don’t really care about the fu-
ture of photojournalism. The soul of it has been rotten for a while.
Chris Anderson - Magnum
p .4 Introduction
p .7 The Newspaper industry
p .14 Photojournalism
p .17 Economy of photojournalism
p .20 Introduction
p .21 Product & Process
p .23 Cross & Transmedia
p .25 All publishers
p .27 Monetization
p .30 Graphic
p .31 Bio
N.B: Click on the menu to jump to the page you want to read.
The year 2010 will probably be remembered as the year during which the Newspaper
and its future tainted with such uncertainty.
in its infancy, tries to reinvent itself and struggles to find a new path.
When a photographer writes with light, a journalist writes with the light of truth. Since
Enrich Salomon, the meaning of our profession didn’t change at all. In a way, even if we
are the heirs of ancient photojournalism we still do have a role to play by perpetuating
or Newspapers. It can be as efficient in a digital world as long as we put in it the same
that we would be crazy not to try them all. We would be irresponsible not to try to
master these new ways to communicate and test new approaches.
challenge the status quo and be courageous enough to stand for new behaviors.
This should neither be considered a rejection of the past, nor a questioning of the
light where there is darkness in this world.
We all know that Newspapers are dying. From the United States to France, from
started before the Internet era.
But since 5 years ago, thanks to an exponential multiplication of free News sources
on Internet (even if they were published by pure players or by the old guard) and
after years characterized by high performances and rising revenues.
melt significantly. A pattern, even more present among young people below 35yrs,
who are less likely reading a newspaper than their counterparts of 50yrs and more.
As a matter of fact, the growth of the whole Newspaper market has slowed in 2004,
stopped in 2007, and started to decline in 2008 and 2009 in every segment of the
market. National or local newspapers, in France or in the USA, Italy, Greece or Spain,
nobody was spared.
A - The Newspaper Industry
costs (caused in part by a monopolistic position of the NMPP, a public distribution
service for Newspapers and magazines) and advertising declining revenues, have
weighted on the market and made it weaker than it was meant to be. When you
look at the annual budget of a middle class household, Newspapers and Magazines
Monde”recently acquired by a trio of businessmen Berge-Pigasse-Niel, was actually
the first National newspaper to even consider filing for bankruptcy.Those numbers
a Newspaper on a daily basis. In 2008, those who were still claiming to be a News
reader (print and internet) were only 30% of the total population, after losing about
(at a declining rate of 20 hours per year), compared to 1022hr/yr (almost 2.8h/day)
Magazines, the setback is even more impressive with a 28% loss over the last 2 years
biggest crisis in the history of News.
Clay Shirky, professor at the New York University, has analyzed the reasons of this
unprecedented crisis. To him, the main cause is the emergence of Internet, not as a
potential competitor for the Newspapers industry, but as a sharing platform. The
crucial revolution here is that Internet has connected people in way that has never
been done before, and has allowed them to communicate more easily.
What was, back in the day, a very well-guarded fortress controlled by a cast of elite,
became a large free market owned by everyone of us, defined by few rules. News on
that its monopoly was ending.The economic structure which supporting the rise of
collapsed and was replaced by a new one based on shareability and credibility.
…It was an accident. There was a set of forces that made that possible. And
they weren’t deep truths — the commercial success of newspapers and their
receptive to the advertising contribute to the depletion of advertising revenues for
Newspaper industry. Classified advertising also has escaped from a silly logic where
an individual who wanted to buy a car was forced to read stories about Afghanistan,
the crisis in Darfur or the last Milan Fashion show. Again, Clay Shirky explains it:
Best Buy was not willing to support the Baghdad bureau because Best Buy
The mix of these two main factors – massive loss of traditional revenue streams and
rise of Internet – has shaped the fatal fate of our business model. Nevertheless, new
models don’t rise up to replace the obsolete ones.
experts in this field, no actions was taken to change the path of the industry. Sadly
old to understand the very principles behind the changes.
One of the best examples is the reaction of the media magnate Ruppert Murdoch –
owner of News Corporation -, who decided, in 2009, after years of indecision, that
it was time for him to raise pay walls around his properties. Followed by other major
In a digital world ruled by Moore’s conjectures, the Print industry doesn’t seem to
be in a hurry to find out what could be its next move. Therefore, Newspapers and
Magazines loose the opportunity to save what remains. Shirky declares:
going to get a lot worse for a while does not seem to be something people are
taking seriously. (…) I don’t think there’s any way we can get out of that kind
be put into place.
“ “There is so much media now
with the Internet and people, and
so easy and so cheap to start a
newspaper or start a magazine,
there’s just millions of voices and
people want to be heard.”
their editorial and economic approach.
iAds, attracts a lot of attention we’re far from a breakthrough in terms of innovation.
is non-sense. If we consider the amazing openness of the Internet and the plethoric
a good chance that evolution and development will need cash to take place for the
future of a highly competitive and dynamic market. In that case, it is not absurd to
the margin. Information will no longer be the property of someone, or a company,
analysis, digital creation or content development.
With that said, everyone will have the responsibility to find a way to monetize that
new added value, by any means, to survive and prosper. Obviously the public will
the troubled time we are living in. But not only that, they won’t be encouraged to
migrate to a paid formula if the content is average and findable somewhere else for
free. Without pertinent or original content able to attract new readers, the next
generation of publishers will struggle even more. That’s why the industry needs to
invest in R&D, risk taking if priority isn’t set to match this very ambitious goal, but
rather to protect conservatism, ideology and blindness of decision makers.
By the way, if the Newspaper industry slowly wakes up and experiments with new
to finance it (through crowd funding or NGOs contribution) it won’t be the same for
and new ideas, waiting for the best time to appropriate them.
L’agence VII a lancé en avril
dernier un magazine consacre
au travail de ses photographe et
espère développer un nouveau
business model autour de cette
and distribution of pictures for a fraction of the cost this would have been 10 years
(photography being considered as a commodity) and the revenue of thousands of
How did we go there?
It’s obvious that the market 50 years ago wasn’t ruled the same way as the market
we know today. Actually, today’s market is the result of transposition of commercial
built since the 50’s.
On the US side of the Atlantic ocean, when no internet connection was available
anywhere in the world, very few photo agencies were in business – AP has a photo
service, Blackstar was preponderant – and a legion of photojournalist were working
for daily newspapers (likeThe NewYorkTimes) or prestigious magazines (like Life or
Look). On the other side, the European market was literally crowded by a complex
their economic model overseas and to put themselves ahead of the pack, dictating
how the business was supposed to be conducted – sales were made mostly on the
B - Photojournalism
anymore, half a day to receive a picture, everything was faster and easier. For the
distribution, only minutes after they were taken.
This“speed factor”combined with statistic tools and performance tracking systems
by this new sector where investment opportunities were suddenly huge, investors
in fact a dream, the core reality of the business being blurred by the remains of our
fees for unlimited licensing. Clearly, the Goliaths won the battle.
But after two decades of gigantism and exponential structural growth, this model
reaches the limits of sustainability. The printed press industry is severely impacted
by the largest crisis in its history and photo agencies - no matter their size – are
facing the same problems. Studies conducted by Jeff Jarvis and Clay Shirky (NYU)
new environment. Despite the efforts deployed by these structures, Shirky and
Jarvis are predicting unavoidable damage for many publishers who will notshrinkthe
size of their businesses to adapt to the digital environment.
– won’t save the world of photography and these giants who are facing
the same problems: loss of income streams and increased fixed costs.This
is almost an impossible equation to solve without cutting into the charts,
the reaction of these giants seems relatively measured considering the
shares and reap new revenue.
to change the status quo.The questioning of values and concepts that underlie the
who will win today’s battle, but it’s safe to assume that the little ones, who survive in
the end, will do better than large ones.
Left: Clay Shirky, professor
in NYU’s graduate Interactive
Right: Jeff Jarvis, associate
professor and director of the
interactive journalism program
and the new business models
for news project at the City
University of New York’s
Graduate School of Journalism.
agencies now essentially have a role of content provider. They yield a license to an
the reality of production anymore.
During the analog era (pre 90’s), publications were constrained by the space offered
have evaporated with the advent of digital technology and the Internet. The new
which the boundaries of space and audience have more sense.
the next decade, the augmented reality or even virtualization.
pricing which seems inadequate to support long term growth. Amazingly, the press
industry and agents continue to ignore what basically constitutes the fundamental
value of a photograph: the very subjective notion, yet very real quality. The added
C - Economy of photojournalism
a better monetary value of that work. Every one of us is equal in front of the system
and we see our pictures published at the same rate, (which are decreasing from year
to year under the pressure of content inflation) regardless of the amount effort and
the professional level we’re at.
etc.. - that defy conventions and therefore, are constantly devalued.
be questioned and challenged.
We must change the tool, and thereby, the way we define the term
Redefining photojournalism brings a significant number of advances, in terms
of practice, and opens the door to new opportunities for monetization.
The format - generated by a tool that, in a perverse way, has defined a practice
- is becoming an accessory, and its rejection in the periphery refocuses the
value of photojournalism on the mastery of narrative and informative process.
It recreates a new scale of values in which each production is assessed not
according to a market, but according to its intrinsic value and its final expression
(integrity, honesty, responsibility, ethics, accuracy, visual quality etc…).
We’re shifting from the measure of a tangible product to the evaluation of
an intangible one, which implies the establishment of a new methodology and
new marketing strategies to reflect those changes.
writing process (photo graphos) by using light to form a visual message and in our
which shapes the entire ecosystem created around photography from almost half a
century. By opening the way, we understand the term“photojournalism”, there’s no
activity.There’s no point to avoid the integration of new tools into our workflow and
opportunity to rethink the way we monetize our work and how we connect it with
the rest of the world.
Basically, the core and central value of our profession is journalism. By getting rid of
the format’s dictatorship, we can embrace them all and refocus our attention on the
intellectual value of the information. We can shift from the economy of product to
move to an economy of process.
A - Product & Process
to determine a monetary value of our work, i.e.:
Credibility and Authority, Ethic and Responsibility, Commitment and Quality.
expertise – of the photographer in the area he/she is covering, the experience
gained over the years on a particular topic.
• Ethic and Responsibility: The ability of the photojournalist is to exercise their
their consistence to follow these rules without compromising them.
• Commitment and Quality:The commitment of a photojournalist in the stories
and original point of view.
for a series of major adjustments especially when considering how to market our
with the consolidation of Internet and the development of social networks in our
lives, have allowed photojournalists to switch from a linear narrative to a nonlinear
Multimedia and Web-documentaries to finally extend its sphere of influence to an
argued by Stephen Mayes, Director of the Agency VII, and many other players from
the broadcasting and new technologies worlds. Nicoletta Iacobacci, Director of the
Interactive TV at the Eurovision Broadcasting Union says, “that nowadays the web
use the Internet as a central gathering space.
In a Crossmedia strategy, the same content is distributed through various platforms
(books, internet,TV, newspapers) to attract the largest audience possible. It is a 360
replication of the same product everywhere. A Transmedia project develops the
content across multiple platforms to generate as many different entry points in an
overall narrative scheme. This is basically the modern adaptation of the concept of
Gesamtkunstwerk, invented by Richard Wagner in his essay, “Art and Revolution”
B - Cross & Transmedia
in 1827, which is expressed through the synthesis of works of art in a coherent and
understandable whole embracing all artistic expression. This is what he called the
to be connected, but it often fails to create a bond between them and the public.
We lose track of the context in which the event happens. Transmedia storytelling,
whose theoretical definition is still very recent (between 1991 and 2003 according
to sources), implies that different parts of a story are told through different kind
in a non-redundant and complementary manner. The new narrative form, implies
that the web platform breaks off, and that all known materials potentially become
a part of the Transmedia story, linked together by a general context. Therefore, a
Transmedia story can start by a web documentary, and then be adapted for a TV
to all photojournalism work. Good stories will keep strength and relevance through
will bring particularly effective narrative mechanicals, enabling photojournalists to
has nothing to do with technologies (even if it’s largely based upon their use), but
in a distributed story - the form which helps reshape the content of the story.
5 years ago with the emergence of a new breed of paparazzi agencies on the West
Coast of the United States - X17 and Splash News among others - who understood
very early in their development the interest of creating“magazine blogs.”Although
the format was still very close to a classic blog, each one of them used it, and made
video, mobile, and print).
It’s easy to see the benefits that follow from self-publication. Furthermore, it allows
the area of entertainment, however, the picture is used more as a single shot, than a
In the case of photojournalism, this model extracts the photographs for the role of
various media. It also allows greater control of the destination and the presentation
Since 2006, the paparazi agency
X17 publishes a blog“magazine”
in order to cut the “Middle Man”
C - Publishers
Magnum is one of the first to have build
a Multimedia Magazine platform on
Internet. Despite a huge amount of traffic,
it’s still unclear what the business model of
“Magnum in Motion” really is.
and richer analysis.
line - enables interactivity and reconnects the documentary genre with a younger
point for links, comments and references, transforming the whole into a new object
described by Fred Ritchin as “new Visual Journalism”. The most recent example of
that is the attempt to create new spaces for pictures, initiated by agencies likeVII or
but are worth exploring further.
and the image, avoiding the trap of creative commons, while preserving freedom of
private use and ensuring the viability of the creation.
The funding of photo agencies’web magazines implies more classical methods of
monetization including advertisement placement or targeted marketing. It’s worth
noting that the rise of social networking and SMO (social media optimization) will
empower any kind of platform, even the smallest one, to build a solid community,
which could be later monetized through advertising.
funding as“Emphas.is”– a platform similar to Spot.us, founded by established and
world-renown photojournalists – will be launched at the beginning of 2011.
D - Monetization
Other tools like Kickstarter.com or Ulule.com already encourage private fundraising
(crowdfunding), opening new horizons for independent professionals and for truly
participatory media. From B2B content provider, we’re moving to a more public and
is a paradigm shift we need not be afraid of. We’ve been kept away from the people
we’re supposed to talk to for too long now, and it’s time to engage in a more direct
and frank dialog with them.
structures will also be some of the main promising solutions to develop financially
resources and develop their business.
Last but not least, the rise of the tablet market, combined with the“All publishers”
without worrying if, when, and where they will be published. As you guessed it, the
capital words here are“innovation”and“experimentation.”
the next“Gamma”or“Sygma”or some kind of“Viva agency 2.0”if you will.
The year 2011 should be considered as the first year of a rebirth
for photojournalism, the first step which will take us on the path of
recovery. I’m sure there’s plenty of guys out there excited at the
idea of taking a fresh approach and engaging in new challenges.
It’s time to shift, it’s time to let go the so called “Golden age,”
we are going to create our “Golden age”, and we just have to
believe in it!