Photographers Note Digital’s Advantages, Disadvantages

Photographers Note Digital’s Advantages, Disadvantages

Fahmy, Shahira

Digital imaging has been found to increase photographer’s flexibility and time management, ensure usable images and increase involvement in photo editing decisions. However, digital imaging has also been found to generate shortage and archival problems and to increase editing duties.

Technological factors play a role in shaping and perpetuating the conventions of news photography. Digital imaging technology is a source of control that exerts a variety of psychological and practical constraints on the photographer’s work, both the photographic process and final product. Technology is a variable that directly and indirectly influences photographic results.1 Indeed, digital imaging needs to be understood in terms of its complex impact on news photography.

This research is important as it deals with the advance toward the replacement of film by digital imaging in the field of photojournalism. Digital imaging has freed the industry from the time consuming chemical processing and has replaced film in many, if not most, newsrooms. Currently, many professionals equipped with digital cameras transmit hundreds of images around the world. Anecdotal evidence suggests digital imaging has made it easier and cheaper to produce images. These features were positively perceived once the majority stage2 of digital imaging diffusion had begun. However, the impact of this alteration deserves a closer look.

While there usually are numerous benefits to a technological innovation, normally there are several drawbacks as well, some of them unanticipated.3 With the introduction of any new technology in a newsroom, it is necessary to examine whether news is being redefined based on the development of digital technology. In the case of digital imaging, decisions in news photography are now made with real time information. As more information is received during the moment of transmission via satellite or cellular transmission, the system’s previous dynamic and the nature of the communication content are being altered.3

As early as 1987, Ahlhauser predicted newspapers adopting digital imaging technology would experience changes in work routine, dependent upon the preparation and professionalism of the photojournalists.4 As for other research, the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center’s survey suggests technological convergence was driving current newsrooms; 70 percent of news editors who responded to the survey mentioned digital photographic processing and digital darkrooms as technologies that already were affecting the newsroom.5 Later studies, including those by Huang, Kelly, Russial and Wanta, Russial, Zavoina and Reichert,6 scrutinize the adoption of digital imaging technology in the media.

While most of these studies examined the adoption process using quantitative methods, the goal of this research is to qualitatively explore the adoption of digital imaging technology. We interviewed seven individuals affiliated with the 58th Picture of the Year International (POYi) competition.7 These men and women represent some of the best the photojournalism community has to offer, so our aim is to explore from their perspectives how the adoption and diffusion of the technology affect the work environment in relation to the production of images, storage, flexibility, interpersonal relationships, autonomy and control over the photographs.

The context in which any change occurs is very important. As conventions vary according to contexts of production, the new digital, technological context may influence the photographer’s workflow, social relationships and overall autonomy on the job in a way that may produce different styles of news photography.

Power of the Work Environment on Visual Output

Sociologists studying organizations suggest that work material, organizational flexibility and professionalism are interrelated. News organizations impose routines to control the flow of work and the amount of work to be done.8 According to Schwartz, all photographs represent a point of view that is based upon institutional requirements that constrain production.9 Vital information on visual story telling can be gained by studying news organizations and the routines of news making; thus it becomes imperative to uncover routines that determine and create the content of the news product.10

Employees compete for the control of work processes yet professional practices are designed to serve organizational needs. Professionals in the field inevitably negotiate, within their own environment, about work responsibilities; these negotiations include the sharing of sources and information. Because of deadline pressures, it has been important to use all the technological advances currently available, making digital imaging technology an important technological adoption in most news organizations. The new digital technology alters routines to control the flow of work and the amount of work performed within an organization.

Traditionally, ambiguity in unfolding news requires flexibility to different aspects of the same story. Photojournalists tend to overshoot, trying to produce “ideal” images to strategically adapt and meet editorial expectations and demands.11 Depending on how the story evolves, photographers are expected to include a wide variety of photographs that could tell many stories in such a way that would allow the picture editor to illustrate any new development and select the images accordingly.12 Currently, photojournalists equipped with digital cameras, laptops and cellular telephones can instantly transmit images from the location. The new technology offers more flexibility; photojournalists no longer have to rush their film to the office, so they can stay on location longer while still meeting deadlines.

Without a doubt, several aspects of the practice of news photography are changing. For the scope of this study, the impact of the diffusion of digital imaging technology in news organizations is examined from the theoretical perspective of diffusion of innovation.

Diffusion of Innovation

An idea, practice or object perceived as new is communicated over time among members of a social system through certain channels. This process is known as the diffusion of innovation.13The diffusion of digital imaging innovation takes place when newspapers replace old technologies of photography with new digital facilities, which has occurred quite rapidly.

In March 1990, both Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI) announced that within two years all photographic transmissions from either wire service would be digital. 14This forced the rapid transition to the new technology. By June 1992 all photograph subscribers to these two major wire services had electronic darkrooms.15

Research on the diffusion of innovation generally focuses on attitude change, decision-making and implementation of the innovation. Rogers stresses the importance of three concepts in understanding diffusion research: technology, information and uncertainty.16Research findings suggest a diffusion path that depends on several factors.

Reducing uncertainty, networking, increasing quality, reducing cost and reducing complexity facilitate the diffusion process. Research suggests that an organization would be more likely to try the new technology when shown how it is being implemented in different organizations. Moreover, the complexity of the innovation dictates the pace of its adoption; while many photojournalists may welcome digital technology, many fear its complexity. In general, innovations are more likely to be adopted when they are perceived to have a relative advantage at a reasonable cost.17 In the case of digital imaging technology, photojournalists need to try the technology and compare the digital visual output as opposed to traditional output. Network interconnectedness also is positively correlated to the degree of success of the innovation.18Photographers’ knowledge, decisions and opinions concerning adoption intentions are influenced by the quantity and strengths of other photographers’ informal communication.19 Additional factors, such as uncertainty, profitability and organization growth are significant variables in the diffusion process, as is the interaction among the diffusion of different technologies. The adoption of a technology will be affected not only by variables relating to it, but also by variables relating to other technologies.20There is a strong positive correlation between the availability and density of new telecommunication services and the new information technologies.21 The adoption of digital imaging technology is dependent on the diffusion of advanced telecommunications hardware and software within a news organization.


This qualitative study used interviewees selected from the roster of participants associated with the 2001 Picture of the Year International (POYi) contest. POYi is one of the world’s oldest and most respected annual photojournalism contests, providing a venue for educational discourse. Since we were interested in the effect of digital imaging on the news industry through professionals related to the field, conducting interviews with seven POYi participants22 was appropriate. They are highly respected in the photojournalism field, representing different aspects of the business after years of working in a wide variety of cities and suburbs.22

Interviewees were first contacted by e-mail, describing the purpose of the study. A list of questions also was in the e-mail to familiarize the interviewees with the study. Respondents could answer by e-mail or be telephoned on a specific date and time. Interviews followed a semi-structured approach; sometimes they were customized to individual respondents because of their job history. Although many questions are formed based on each respondent’s answers, a questionnaire including open-ended questions was used as a general guideline.23


Interviewees’ insights on digital imaging technology comprise a perceptual screen through which visual communication is currently heading. These perceptions are important to consider as they may shed light upon issues that might be worthy of attention that otherwise would not be evaluated. Our purpose was to look at the impact of adopting the digital imaging technology in news environments as perceived by these seven POYi participants.

Shooting Digital

Although a few interviewees explained that shooting digital takes some time to adapt to, all respondents said they welcome the use of digital cameras. “The new cameras are slower . . . I was shooting college basketball, when suddenly I realized . . . oh my god . . . there is no ball in my picture,” Peattie explains.

An interesting contradiction about using digital cameras emerged. On the one hand, digital imaging is advantageous because it allows the photographer to stay on location longer , yet some viewed the technology as a threat. Strazzante expressed his concern, saying photographers using digital cameras may actually leave assignments earlier than they did in the past because they are able to see their images on the back screen of their camera. In other words, they know if they have been successful more quickly than they could have with traditional cameras. Under the old system, photographers probably spend more time shooting to assure themselves that something will turn out. In view of this, the new technology may decrease the quality of the journalistic coverage. “The photographer would tend to shoot less and not try to improve on what he/she already has,” Strazzante observed.

The Digital Darkroom

Digital imaging technology requires photojournalists to work with their images on a computer screen instead of in a chemical darkroom. For the most part, photojournalists used digital imaging technology as a result of being influenced by the diffusion of the innovation in their work environment. When the digital darkroom was introduced, it was a radical change.

Although all interviewees shared the experience of using the chemical darkroom in the past, interviews yielded immense differences in conceptualization. To many, the issue does not seem much of a concern. Langton said, “. . . . A good photograph is a good photograph whether it is on printed on paper or on the screen.” Strazzante explained that the relationship with the work had not changed: “We kind of try to tone our photos, almost like we are printing them in a darkroom . . . . so even though the technology is totally different, we try to get the same result out of it.”

Moreover, since Photoshop software has been used for more than a decade, many considered the issue passe. They agreed that some photographers showed a lot of resistance to working on a computer screen instead of a chemical darkroom; however, the newest generation of photographers may have never worked in the traditional print darkroom. For them, the digital darkroom has not changed anything because it is all they know.24

Although some professionals still experienced pleasure in holding an actual photographic print, many said they preferred working on the screen. “Photos look much better on a screen and one has more control over the image as opposed to using a hand to burn and dodge,” Strazzante said.

Moss agreed, saying, “The computer screen is more intimate . . . it provides an easy way to look at alternative crops . . . . . The first time you find yourself needing to make five copies of something off a difficult negative, the computer will win you over since you only have to get the image right once, not five times in a row.”

Langton pointed out that there were problems with the chemical darkroom: “. . . . It was stinky, messy, ruined your clothes, chemicals were toxic . . . . For everyday work, it is a whole lot more pleasant now working with Photoshop than trying to rush in and out of a darkroom. . . . I’d much rather sit on a computer and make whatever adjustments are necessary.”

Conversely, some interviewees said they believe the change in darkroom techniques have had considerable effects on their work. Finch said it is more difficult to look at photographs on a screen than to look at film. He explained, “. . . . In the computer screen the pictures are little and there is an awful lot of detail that you are probably not seeing so well.”

Zavoina added, “When you are in the chemical darkroom, it is a more intimate relationship with the work . . . . using a digital screen, one is missing the tactile experience that allows you to understand contrast and density better.”

When Finch started his photojournalism career as an intern, he had a frustrating experience because he was not allowed to shoot for the first 10 days. “I was told to sit in front of a computer to learn how to print pictures,” he said. He noted the reason was to put pride into the work and not lose intimacy with the photographs. Finch said the new darkroom technology may have a tendency to change the relationship; however, it mainly depends on one’s attitude and “what kind of care you take and what kind of pride you have in your work.”


The problem of limited storage seemed to be of great concern for the majority of those interviewed. The problem arises when a photojournalist is forced to delete many photographs because of limited time and memory space. “I end up just trashing most of the images and saving the 10 or so that I like the best . . . . I know I am throwing away possible usable pictures in the future but I don’t want to have to save every photo,” Strazzante said.

Time and money is involved in the process, too. If the photographer does a good job in archiving all the images shot in one day, then the time saved in the processing is going to be added to the archiving. Instead of simply putting the negatives in a sleeve and storing them in a binder, the photographer must spend more time to burn a CD or to put them into folders. Strazzante said shooting digital to save time is “a fallacy.”

Two main difficulties were identified.25 One, there is never enough storage space to keep all the images; for example, of 36 frames, six or 10 would be archived and the other 26 would be erased to allow the disk to be reused. As a result, these pictures won’t exist anymore. The second problem is to expand the server continually to accommodate more images in the archives. In order to download 10 images from a disk and put them into a computer, the capabilities for the archives have to be expanded.

Strazzante raised an interesting issue for the future. He said the industry may not even be using CDs in 50 years, and, consequently, digital photographs possibly would not be accessible unless they had been converted to the newest format.

Archival limitations also could have serious consequences. “This is going to affect which images are kept for historical purposes . . . . which can have serious repercussions later on,” Zavoina said. Indeed, this may have severe ramification on the collective representation of our culture. The photojournalism profession has been perceived as a means to document truth and record events.26 The consequences may be severe. The collective memory that connects the present and the past, producing a context for interpreting the world, may be changing and the wide availability of photographs that enable cultural historians to reconstruct historical conditions may be lacking or limited. Images are a vehicle of information. Photographs are historical documents that provide a rare opportunity to interpret the actual conditions of the past,27 according to Hardt and Brennen.

Moss argued that one should never give up a single frame. He recalled cleaning out his desk last year and finding some negatives that were 30 years old, “. . . . I took a look at them and realized I had chosen the wrong frame of an event I covered, and I was now, three decades later, holding the right frame in my hand.”

Most interviewees, however, show less concern. For example, James explained,”. . . . Anything with any real content does not get deleted. . . . so nothing is really lost in the great scheme of things.” He said attitude and not technology make the difference. “I have heard stories of photographers that would go through the film . . . find the one picture they wanted and throw the rest in the garbage,” Finch said.

Langton echoed this view by explaining that, although newspapers have traditionally stored negatives from past years in a warehouse, “We’d occasionally find a strip somewhere . . . like behind the cabinet or on the floor.”

Interviewees who considered storage to be less of a problem said there is always a way to store photographs. The process only requires more organization. Peattie explained, “. . . . This digital medium is going to require people to be more organized than they might have been with film.” In fact, Peattie rationalized her point of view by noting that one flash card can hold up to 88 images-the equivalent of two and a half rolls of film. “When I am done with one, I will just work on another . . . . I will start saving them (images) in CDs instead of in sleeves.”

It is interesting to note all of those interviewed agreed that the storage issue becomes problematic in picture stories, even if it is not a concern in daily assignments. Their line of reasoning is that it is easier to look over film and have it archived ” . . . . In a picture story, there is work in progress that needs to be studied,” Finch explained. In fact, photojournalists interviewed said they might opt to shoot picture stories on film while shooting daily assignments on digital.

The Issue of Control

Regarding the control issue, photographers have gained power in certain situations, and in other ways, they have lost it. Photographers have gained power because their time has suddenly become more valuable and flexible; they can stay longer on location and have the opportunity to make better pictures. Finch said, ” . . . . We can transmit from the middle of the cornfield or tornado if we want to.”

Since digital imaging technology allows the photojournalist to delete photographs on location, the photojournalist is increasingly performing the role of picture editor. As more information is received before the moment of transmission, the photojournalist may decide which photographs to keep and which photographs to delete. This process, many perceive, allows control over the work.

However, based on her research, Zavoina believes the age of the photography department’s employees and the size of the newspapers are important variables that could affect the adoption of technological changes in a news organization. She agrees that, as a result of the technology, the work system will dramatically change, emphasizing that the change would depend heavily on whether there are older people in management. In her view, managers who are accustomed to the conventional methods will tend to run the operation very traditionally.

Larger newspapers, in her experience, have the tendency to let their photographers do the first edit, whether it is film or digital, and then, the final edit is the responsibility of the picture editor. Smaller newspapers, on the other hand, might not be able to offer much editing expertise to their photographers, Zavoina pointed out, because there may not even be separate picture editor positions on a small staff.

In fact, Strazzante, who works at a large newspaper, said that the picture editor does not have time to edit photographs. He/she is dealing with the newsroom, assignments and other responsibilities that make it impossible to edit all the work. He explained, ” . . . . The photo editor rarely edits my film. The only time he’d do it is if I ask him to do it or if it is a really big project . . . . but on a day-to-day basis with daily assignments, I would come in, process my film, pick up the ones I want, put them on a system and turn them in.”

Based on Langton’s professional experience, picture editors work closely with the photographers mainly on long-term projects, often asking the photographer to do an initial broad edit while he examines the rest of the work. The editor generally would concentrate on the photographer’s choices when making the final selection.

However, the size of the publication may have different repercussions in the world of digital photography. Langton suspects smaller newspapers with limited budgets might not buy sufficient numbers of disks to allow for enough storage space in the field, or they may not supply their photographers with a laptop to download images into the computer and free up disk space. This could lead photographers to spend their own money to purchase extra flash cards or to delete more images on location, which could be perceived as a form of editing and control. For photojournalists not accustomed to this type of control, the change brought about by the digital technology could introduce them to the editing process, which might be confusing at first. Peattie predicted photographers will learn to pay closer attention to images and will become accustomed to acting as editors at that point.

Digital imaging may limit the work of photojournalists in other respects as well. It is much harder to archive and edit on a screen, according to Finch. “It is easier for me to look at film and scan it in, than it is to scroll through frames in the back of a camera or on a computer screen,” he explained. Regarding picture enhancement procedures, the photojournalist may feel a lack of control because many photographers are required to send raw images to the photographic technicians.28 Finch explained most photographers would rather scan and print their own images: “If a photographer underexposes a frame, it is usually for a reason, and when a lab technician does the job, he/she may not be aware of the motive.”

Interviews indicated the debate of photojournalists’ control over images continues. Using the new digital imaging technology, photojournalists would rather have control over the final toning and cropping, but management may perceive the issue differently.29 Many newspaper managers consider the time photographers spend scanning, cropping and toning a waste of photographing talent, those interviewed said.30 Thus, it seems reasonable to assume it is the system that implements the adoption of the technology, rather than the technology, itself, that has greater influence on the work process.

The State of Picture Editing

The interviews reveal contradicting views regarding the future of picture editing. One view proposes that picture editors are gaining more control and respect, and that the picture editing position is being considered more of a management position; whereas, the photojournalist still has the stigma of being part of the production process. The other view, while stressing the importance of the photo-editing job, suggests that the editing job may soon cease to exist. In this world, the process may happen at a rapid pace, especially in bigger newspapers that have several bureaus spread over a large metropolitan area.

There are many layers of subjective reality between visual content and the real world and each published photograph has been the product of a chain of gatekeepers.30 The absence of a picture editor can be dreadful because, no matter how good a self-editor the photographer might be, there is always a liability of missing a good image. James noted: “. . . . Any edit is improved with a second set of eyes.” In fact, the interviewees concurred that the role of the picture editor should not become obsolete because someone will always be needed to make educated decisions about photography whether images are on film or digital. Moss said he believes increasing reliance on the photographer in the field as the primary picture editor is “not good policy.”

Regarding the relationship between the picture editor and photojournalist, those interviewed said the existing relationship has not changed. Respondents agreed the work still remains a cooperative business. They explained that communication with the picture editor still occurs before, during and/or after the assignment. While on location, the photographer might call the office from the field and explain to the picture editor which images he/she has. In some cases, the picture editor might ask the photojournalist to copy all the photographs in a public folder to be instantly accessed, and he/she can then make very specific requests. Moreover, if the event is important enough, the picture editor may be on location editing the work from a laptop screen.

In conclusion, although most of the interviewees said they assume the relationship with the picture editor has not and will not change, many agreed that the photographers would become more aware of what their images show as they go into conversations with the picture editors. Peattie explained how: “They will have already thought through a lot about their pictures before an editor gets to look at them.”

Interpersonal Relationships

Interviews revealed polar predictions on how digital imaging technology may affect interpersonal relationships within a news organization. Some professionals said they believe the new technology is helping personal relationships, while others say they believe the technology is adding to photojournalists’ isolation.

Those interviewed who said they believe the technology enhances personal relationships predicted an increase in newsroom discussions among professionals; photojournalists will come into the office to scan, color and tone.31 Hence, they will be physically present more often with the picture editor and managers. Respondents who support this view, said most newspapers, especially the smaller ones, would not allow photojournalists to transmit from location because managers would demand their presence, especially during the planning of visual strategy. Transmission from location would most likely be restricted to times when meeting deadlines would be most crucial.

Conversely, those who said digital technology has the potential to isolate the photographer from the newsroom suggested that more photographers would take advantage of the technology and transmit from outside the office. “They won’t come in . . . . in the past they used tobe in the basement . . . now they would be in their living rooms,” Strazzante explained. In fact, there is a photographer who lives 40 miles away from the office, who, according to Strazzante, routinely shoots an assignment and goes home to send the images without ever going into the office.

Many of those interviewed who supported this claim predicted: ” . . . . Within a year or two in many newspapers, the photographers may not come into the newsroom any more; they might get their assignments over e-mail . . . . they’d go out, take the photos, send them back by cellular phone and then go home,” Strazzante said. This could have severe repercussions, as respondents said it is important for photojournalists to go into the office to show pictures, talk to other people and exchange ideas. “There is a lot to be said about bouncing around in the newsrooms and talking to the writers showing pictures around and generating a level of excitement,” James said.

In a more moderate view, the future is probably somewhere between the two extremes. It all comes down to interpersonal relationships at work, explained James. In his view, none of the technology really matters. ” . . . . It is still about the basic business of communicating.”32


Unfortunately, comprehensive, all-encompassing statements cannot be obtained from interviews with seven individuals. Nonetheless, this study still manages to bring forth valuable information on the advantages and disadvantages of digital imaging. Despite the disadvantages of adopting the new technology, especially with respect to storage issues and increases in picture editing duties on the part of photographers, interviewees agreed that the benefits of digital imaging exceed the drawbacks, if one has the right attitude.

Overall, the results suggest the following significant benefits from adopting the digital imaging technology:

* The photojournalists have become more flexible. They feel they have gained more power over their time. Digital imaging allows for extended deadlines, and it allows the photographer to stay longer on location to make better pictures.

* Photojournalists have the possibility to delete and transmit photographs from location; the technology offers a chance to many to take part in the picture editing process.

* Photojournalists taking part in photo-editing are becoming more aware of their images and more perceptive in their conversations with picture editors.

* It is possible that the new technology may enhance and increase information sharing in the newsroom.

* Although photographers may leave assignments earlier and many may shoot less, they will have a better idea of whether they have a usable image.

On the other hand, respondents identified several disadvantages. Interviews revealed a cautionary perspective, and there are many issues yet to be settled. The most fundamental disadvantage is limited storage. This limitation could have severe repercussions, in part, because there is never enough storage space to keep all the prints. True, storage has always been an issue. In the past, physical space did not guarantee accessibility, and film can deteriorate in physical storage, but with the new technology, the issue is even more serious.

Because of limited storage and limited budgets, photographers may be forced to delete images on location. Respondents are concerned about the inability to store all images, which would affect the historical record. Until the news organization migrates the images to new storage media technology, the issue remains unresolved. Added time and money are other concerns. The time saved in processing is going to be added in the archiving process. Respondents also fear that CDs containing all the images may become obsolete in the future-like the 8-track tape-and, as a result, digital images would become inaccessible.

Additional concerns not related to archiving were:

* Digital imaging has limitations on long-term projects because film is still considered easier to look over and archive.

* There is a risk that editing positions may become obsolete.

* Photographers may not come into the newsroom, which could add to the isolation of photojournalists.

Excluding the storage limitation, no one interviewed criticized the increased benefit of extended deadlines and the flexibility offered by the new technology. In effect, it seems that adopting the new technology has a general tendency to generate positive repercussions in the news industry. It is remarkable that all of those interviewed, regardless of their diverse opinions, perceived the new technology to be positive. In sum, photographers need to become accustomed to the new digital paradigm and many of the concerns will eventually fade. Peattie put the issue in plain words: “We just have to start learning how to look differently . . . . it means you will be editing out of a screen instead of a light table.”


1. Barbara Rosenblum, “Style as Social Process,” American Sociological Review 43, no. 3 (1978): 428-438.

2. Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964).

3. John Pavlik, New Media Technology (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1996).

4. Ahlhauser’s predictions include: increased shooting time, more communication with reporters and editors, extended deadlines and less control by the photographer on picture selection.

5. John Pavlik and Everette Dennis, Demystifying Media Technology: Readings From the Freedom Forum Center (Mayfield, Calif.: Mountain View, 1993).

6. See Edgar Shaohua Huang, “Readers’ Perception of Digital Alteration in Photojournalism,” Journalism & Communication Monographs 3, no. 3 (2001): 149-182; Also see James Kelly and Diona Nace, “Digital Imaging and Believing Photos,” Visual Communication Quarterly, 1, no. 1 (1994): 18; John Russial and Wayne Wanta, “Digital Imaging Skills and the Hiring and Training of Photojournalists,” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 75, no. 3 (1998): 593-605; John Russial, “How Digital Imaging Changes the Work of Photojournalists, ” Newspaper Research Journal 21, no. 2 (2000): 67-83; Susan Zavoina and Tom Reichert, “Media Convergence/ Management Change: The Evolving Workflow for Visual Journalists,” The journal of Media Economics 13, no. 2 (2000): 143-151.

7. The 58th Pictures of the Year International (POYi) competition was sponsored by the University of Missouri-Columbia.

8. Gaye Tuch man, Making News: A Study in the Construction of Reality (New York: Free Press, 1978).

9. See Dona Schwartz, “Objective Representation: Photographs as Facts,” in Picturing the Past: Media, History and Photography, eds. Bonnie Brennan and Hanno Hardt (Chicago: University of Illinois Press,’ 1999), 158-181.

10. Wilson Lowrey, “Routine News: The Power of the Organization in Visual Journalism,” Visual Communication Quarterly 6, no. 2 (1999): 10-15.

11. Rosenblum, “Style as Social Process.”

12. Ibid.

13. Everett Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations (New York: The Free Press, 1995).

14. In 1990, when AP began transmitting photographs electronically, it helped its major newspaper clients make the transition to digital imaging by giving them the necessary hardware. See Schwartz, “Objective Representation;” see also “AP, UPI to Replace Newspapers’ Photo Receivers With Electronic Darkroom Systems,” Press Time 12, no. 3 (1990): 63.

15. “AP Drops an Electronic Bombshell,” News Inc. 1, no. 3 (1990): 7.

16. See Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations.

17. Ibid.; also see Massoud Karshenas and Paul Stoneman, “Rank, Stock, Order and Epidemic Effects in the Diffusion of New Process Technologies: An Empirical Model,” Rand Journal of Economics 24, no. 4 (1993): 503-528.

18. Yar M. Ebadi and James Utterback, “The Effects of Communication on Technological Innovation,” Management Science 30, no. 5 (1984): 572-585.1

19. Mieneke Weenig, “Communication Networks in the Diffusion of Innovation in an Organization,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 29, no. 5 (1999).

20. Paul Stoneman and Myung-Joong Kwon, “The Diffusion of Multiple Process Technologies,” Economic Journal 104, no. 423 (1994): 420-431.

21. Cristiano Antonelli, “Investment and Adoption in Advanced Telecommunications,” International Journal of Industrial Organization 20, no. 2 (1993): 227-246.

22. Interviews with the small purposive sample were conducted during March and April 2001. The sample includes subjects selected on the basis of specific characteristics with the knowledge that it was not representative of the general U.S. population. Interviews ranged from half an hour to one and a half hours, with a sample of seven professionals heavily involved in the photojournalism field. The seven interviewees: James, Terrence Antonio- (POYi judge 2001) James launched SOULEYES, an online journal of documentary photography with the mission of documenting communities of color. SOULEYES won an award of Excellence in the 57th POY competition. Currently a staff photographer at the Chicago (Ill.) Tribune, James previously worked at the Bergen (N. J.) Record, was a photography intern at Newsweek and a freelancer in New York City. Finch, Rob- (Selected Best Newspaper Photographer of the Year, POY 2000) Currently a staff photographer at the Portland Oregonian, Finch previously worked as a staff photographer for the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Daily Herald and for Copley Chicago Newspapers. His work has been widely recognized. Langton, Loup- (POYi consultant 2001) Langton spent years working in the media, both as an academic-an assistant professor in the University of Missouri-Columbia-and as a professional-freelance photographer with J.B. Pictures; director of photography at El Universo in Ecuador and at Copley Chicago Newspapers. Now back in academia, he is a faculty member in the School of Communications, University of Miami, Florida. Moss, Bryan- (POYi judge 2001) Moss has been a manager, a picture editor, a photography coach, a photographer, a multi-media producer, a teacher and a computer programmer. He has a worked at 12 different newspapers in 36 years. At the Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal, he was on the photography staff that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1976, and he was the director of photography at the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News when the whole newspaper staff was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Currently, he is the photography coach at the St. Louis (Mo.) Post-Dispatch. Peattie, Peggy- (POYi judge 2001) Peattie, currently working at the San Diego Union-Tribune has been named the Greater Los Angeles Press Photographer of the Year five times in a row and twice has been the California Photographer of the Year runner-up. She also has won several awards in the national POY contest, has taught at two international photojournalism workshops and was a speaker on the 1992 NPPA Flying Short Course. Strazzante, Scott- (Awarded Best Newspaper Photographer of the Year, POYi 2001) Strazzante is currently working as a staff photographer at the Chicago Tribune. He contributed to the CITY 2000 documentary project in Chicago, as both a freelancer and staff photographer. He also earned the NPPA’s Region 5 Photographer of the Year honor for the second year in a row. Zavoina, Susan- (POYi judge 2001) Zavoina is associate professor and coordinator of the photojournalism sequence at the University of North Texas. Along with co-author John H. Davidson, she published a 2002 textbook entitled Digital Photojournalism. Zavoina’s most recent study, “Photojournalism in the 21st Century,” done in conjunction with Newsday and the Poynter Institute, was presented during the national Associated Press Managing Editors’ conference. Questions used: 1. Discuss the perceived repercussions of adopting digital imaging technology in news organizations. 2. Describe some of the problems that visual news professionals may go through during the adoption process. 3. How does the adoption process affect the role of the photojournalist in relation to the role of picture editors? 4. In your opinion, which role – the photojournalist or picture editor – is gaining more control within the news organization? How could this affect the final visual output? 5. Does adoption affect the photographer’s autonomy and control of images? Could this affect the work of the photojournalist? 6. In your opinion, how has the new digital imaging technology affected interpersonal relationships within a news organization?

24. It is worth noting all interviewees stressed the importance of learning to use the chemical darkroom, before going digital. 24-year-old photojournalist Rob Finch explains that despite his age, he has also worked in a chemical darkroom – although not as much as most photographers have.

25. Indeed, using digital cameras has changed work procedures; because of limited time and storage, a photographer makes a decision that he/she traditionally would not have to make until later. Rob Finch says that although he personally has never deleted images on location because of limited capacity, he could see how he would. In general, images are usually deleted for technical reasons: not in focus, blurred, underexposed, overexposed and/or scratched. Those would be easy to erase, but then the problem occurs, when because of limited storage, decisions have to be made based over content and composition.

26. Julianne Newton, The Burden of Visual Truth: The Role of Photojournalism in Mediating Reality (New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001).

27. See Schwartz, “Objective Representation.”

28. Terrence James explains that in the past when lab techs were in charge of printing negatives, it was probably harder to hand in a negative and ask them to make a print.

29. Be that as it may, the solution seems feasible. Terrence James put it in plain words: “Communication is the key.” He believes the ideal situation is when the photographers, the photo editor and technicians work closely. The general cropping and toning would be between the photo editor and the photographer. On one side of the room, the photographers would scan in their images and do the initial printing and on the other side would be the technicians who are in charge of preparing the images for the press. Therefore, if the photographers do not already have total control over their images, they could watch the lab techs finish the toning job, and, if they disagree, they can discuss and communicate their visions.

30. The procedure depends on the publication, routine and delineation of the management.

31. Kimberly Bissell, “A return to ‘Mr. Gates’: Photography and Objectivity,” Newspaper Research Journal 21, no. 3 (2000): 81-93.

32. It is important to note that the integration that already took place among photojournalists and other news professionals has little to do with digital technology. Photography has gained respect over the years and is now considered a vital part of the newsgathering experience. In view of some, this relates to the natural evolution of photographers at their workplace, as being part of a team. In the past, photographers were perceived as camera operators who received no byline for the work. They were often considered “second-class citizens” in the newsroom. See Schwartz, “Objective Representation.” Over time, their ranks increased, and they joined professional associations. In fact, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) was established to improve the working conditions of photojournalists, to ensure their rights and improve their public image. See Claude Cookman, A Voice is Born (Durham, N.C.: National Press Photographers Association, 1985).

Fahmy is a doctoral student and Smith is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Copyright Newspaper Research Journal, Department of Journalism, University of Memphis Spring 2003

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