Photojournalism and the power of the image

In the age of digitization, has photojournalism lost all its meaning?

Photojournalism and the power of the imageSubway at 72nd. St. Station, Manel Armengol

Photojournalism or photojournalism is a journalistic genre that was born in the late nineteenth century from the development of photography as an artistic discipline. The first use of an image in the media in the year 1880 has been traced and the Daily Graphic of New York was the first newspaper to integrate an image within a report as an objective and representative means of a fact.


This journalistic discipline has been developed mainly through coverage of political conflicts, war confrontations, and civil and social movements. Roger Fenton is considered the first war photographer and the role that he and his successors have played within the record of history has been fundamental.


But with the arrival of new technologies and the opening of the internet, journalism has suffered a degeneration that has mainly affected the work of photojournalists. Digitization has contributed to the increase in visual information that is generated, in the vast majority of cases by amateurs. For this reason, today the true value of photojournalism is questioned and its immediate future is questioned.


When we say that an image is worth a thousand words, we also refer to the real fact that an image has a much higher economic value than words. Because the images are not only autonomous, but have a greater power to transmit ideas than the words have. Therefore, controlling the power of an image at the time it is published is almost impossible, not only by the photojournalist, but also by the medium that reproduces and publishes it.


And all this happens with greater intensity in a world in which we all execute and share our own vision of the facts on social networks. The problem that can develop from this popularization of the use of photography as a narrator of an event is precisely the discourse that is given to it.


Photojournalist Anna Surinyach shared with the New York Times the example she often gives in her talks on human displacement. She showed an image of five North African men pulling a wheel out of a car in the city of Barcelona. When asking for the opinion of the attendees, the vast majority agreed that the image described a robbery, while the reality was that these young immigrants were helping a Catalan woman who had just punctured a tire.


This answer directly questions not only the white / western argument with which we approach events as spectators, but also the way in which First World societies have wanted to tell the story. So has photojournalism lost all its meaning? Or on the contrary, does it make more sense than ever within this world coerced by lies?

You can visit our selection about photojournalism here

Photojournalism and the power of the imageA Washington sq., Manel Armengol
Photojournalism and the power of the imageHuelga general en Seat, Barcelona, Jordi Socías

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