Innovation in 2017

A Million Extra Eyes

Written by Stephen Smit

Social media has given photojournalists a million extra eyes in the world. While the rise of the citizen journalist has given everyone a voice it poses a particularly difficult dilemma for experienced photojournalists looking to stand out. With so many images circulating around social media it is harder to cut through the jumbled mess of photos and discern what images are important in the context of story.  The power of the image, to convey a message has never been more important.

Photojournalists have realised social media’s potential to reach as many people as possible, as quick as possible. For example Instagram gives the photojournalist the power to post the most important, relevant images. Or create small photo essay with Instagram’s ability to post multiple photos within the one post. Instagram also allows the photojournalists to post ‘Instagram stories’ which is a basic slideshow or scrapbook of images and videos which provides a multifaceted, immediate perspective on events. Instagram gives audiences a deeper, behind the scenes perspective of what it’s like to be a photojournalist working in the field.

Traditionally once an event happens a photojournalist would arrive and document the event. In the present day when disaster strikes, the first witnesses will be citizens. Advances in phone technology have meant that the citizen journalists are the first people to publish breaking news photos on the internet. The opportunities for news organisations to capture the first crucial moment of a news story have expanded exponentially. News organisations can use photos and comments posted on twitter to give first hand insights on breaking stories or use witnesses social media posts within stories.

While the convenience of social media has resulted in an abundance of photos, the need for the trained eyes to document and witness is greater than ever. Social media has opened up new avenues for photojournalists to tell stories in the best ways that they possibly can and allowed photojournalists to connect with wider, more diverse array of people. In this context the social media’s impact on visual documentation can be seen as a positive.

About the author

Stephen Smit