Posted by: Alex Peery | November 27, 2017

What does the future look like for visual journalism?

Nicole Smith Dahmen makes the case that a visual restorative narrative can be a sustaining value for the future of visual journalism. She posits that this narrative-style is able to go beyond the scope of what can be provided by the person on the street. While compelling, it seems unrealistic that this style will be successful in the current social news climate.

The main reason for this exists by looking at the margin. Visual reporting is costly, typically for the in-depth nature of the work described in Dahmen’s study. The study cites the Chicago Sun-Times sacking of their entire 28-person photography staff. There is no doubt that photojournalist will produce stronger photographs than the average, untrained journalist. Newspapers don’t always have the luxury of large payrolls. Beyond this, the instant access to social media and others such public platforms makes it so much easier to outsource visual elements to the public.

The hurricane in Puerto Rico, including the ongoing recovery, are an excellent example. Consider this well known photo by Alejandro Garcia Padilla, former Governor of Puerto Rico:


(source in link above)

The photograph is newsworthy and covers an ongoing story of disaster recovery. It was also posted for free and widely picked up by many news outlets. It is hard to see where photojournalists will be able to overcome the access to free content that technology provides.


  1. While this post may sound negative, especially for professional visual journalists, it is mostly positive in my opinion, because it means that there are more open and oftentimes free sources. Although I would like to add the added possibility of photo alterations due to how open and inclusive we have become of visual sources. Media outlets will need to consider a way to verify the authenticity of photos being submitted and published.

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