The recent job losses of 30 photographers from Fairfax may come at a cost to the quality of journalism in Australia.
In May Fairfax Media cut 80 full-time positions across newsrooms, with Melbourne offices being hit the worst.
It’s expected that by the end of the year 35 editorial jobs were likely to be lost, 30 photographers would lose their jobs and a further 15 from Life magazine would be cut.
The job losses coincided with Fairfax’s decision to outsource to Getty Images for the majority of their photographic content.
This decision appeared to be an indication of Fairfax’s intention to further centralise the business and move towards the digitization of its media services.
However, when weighed up against the creative talent and experience that will be lost by the end of the year, especially in photojournalism, what Fairfax stands to gain from these cuts appears minimal at best and shows a lack of understanding about digital media.
If media companies wish to stay in touch with the digital world, then investing in, rather than stripping back, photojournalism departments and budgets would be a good start.
Social media has played a part in all of this too. Any and every photograph can be viewed and shared for free, journalists and citizen journalists alike are sharing content online more so than ever.
What this trend points to is a growing need for specialised photographers taking important and agenda setting pictures, as opposed to generic, syndicated images that can sometimes be unreliable.
As highlighted by the ABC program Media Watch last night, photography remains a powerful and at times controversial medium of storytelling.
Putting to one side the debate over whether or not media should show pictures of the dead, what this program called to attention was the need for skilful photographers to be on the spot to record the reality of the situation on the ground. This could be difficult to do if you don’t have the backing of media company.
In many respects photographs often convey more to an audience than what someone can ever write.
But of course the two go best hand in hand.
What will never change, however, regardless of whether a photograph appears in print or online, when viewed through the lens of a photographer’s camera, 1000 plus dead Palestinians is incredibly powerful, shocking and self-evident of the contrived stances adopted by governments concerning the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.