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Bye, Bye, Photojournalists

Hello, Amateurs
To be sure, there are still news photojournalists to be found, but they are slowly becoming extinct. They are as rare as travel agents, who have been all but replaced by travel websites. While the niche may not be officially dead, it is at least badly injured. The threat to news photographers can be summed up in three words: camera cell phones. Everyone"s got one, and they are in the right place at the right time. An airplane crashes and lands into a river? No problem, Joe Citizen has got it covered. 
Stock photos by amateurs proliferate on the web, enabling news editors to access them for next to nothing. Sites like Flickr mean fewer jobs for the story-telling photographer of days gone by. But zillions of photographs somehow make them seem less precious, and we wish there could be fewer but more meaningful pictures like the ones from Life. The glimmer of hope for photojournalism is that at some point, the veracity of amateur photographs will come into question, and editors may opt to pay for the real deal to save the embarrassment of a phony photo. 
Universities See the Future
Not many news outlets are paying to send photographers to far-flung places to cover events anymore. The trend is for photojournalism to be incorporated into other media jobs, such as video. It looked like the beginning of the end as far back as 2002, when the University of Texas announced it was considering cutting its venerable photojournalism program to focus on graduate studies that emphasize video. Austin"s University of Texas is the alma mater to a number of Pulitzer-Prize winning photographers, but the director admitted that the writing is on the wall for the future of the industry. 
The question becomes, how many photo archives will be no more? Does this change in the way history is preserved mean the end of the still shot that grows into a famous keepsake? As newspaper budgets decline annually, writers are given a digital camera and are told to take as many pictures as needed until they "get a good shot.- The job opportunities may be drying up, but the opportunity exists to seize the new reality and define a new way of doing business. The one spark of optimism that news photographers have is for a mighty online news site to come along and bloom on the web, after a wizened audience clamors for an authentic visual story.

By Chris Navarro
Get Photography Jobs, Contributing Editor

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