Quick. When you think of the Vietnam War, what image comes to mind?
I’d guess that for at least half of you, it’s the image of the running, screaming child who had been doused with napalm.
That single frame served to illustrate all the horrific subtleties that defined that conflict. It is not an image that would have been made had a photojournalist not been willing to put himself literally in the line of fire to capture it. Even if such technology had existed then, it is not an image that a soldier would have thought to aim, frame and capture.
Why do I bring that up? I believe it’s important to distinguish between what photojournalists provide readers and viewers in a day when anyone with a smart phone, tablet or digital point-n-shoot can photograph a picturesque sunset.
Not to take anything away from those who have recently discovered the joy of such possibilities, but that’s not the aim of photojournalists. Just as writers tell a story with words, their goal is to tell a story with the photos. They can be the same story, and often they are, but the visual storytelling element adds another layer to a complex subject, and gives the reader/viewer additional context in which to evaluate an issue.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I am married to a photojournalist. But even without marital bonds, I have spent more than 30 years working with photojournalists who often put themselves at risk to tell the stories of their communities. For example, our folks were behind the lines of the wildfires a few years ago and their images captured the emotions and the devastation in a way no snapshot could have conveyed.
So as we in the journalism business re-evaluate what’s important when it comes to telling the stories and capturing the history of our communities as it happens, I hope we never forget how critical are the contributions of our photojournalists.
From the “fiscal cliff” to the debate over the Health Care Act, it’s tough to listen to a news report that doesn’t mention the impact of the aging “boomer” generation and their predecessors. And it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that those generations make up a good portion of our readers.
That’s why we launched a monthly feature section that we not-very-imaginatively called Senior Living a few years ago. Observant readers will have noticed a change to that section Sunday.
The goal of the section has always been to provide additional Sunday features content on issues that resonate with those readers: providing shelter for adult children who return home; fashion dos and don’ts for the post-50 set; juggling grandparenthood with dating; the increase in sexually transmitted diseases among the older but newly single population.
Thus “Booming: Exploring Life’s Next Chapter” made its debut on Sunday. In addition to “Next Chapter” topics, the section still includes all the Sunday content you expect including Celia Rivenbark, gardening, home decor and the puzzles.
If you have ideas on topics that Booming should explore, please share them with Features editor Caroline Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you have thoughts on what we should, or shouldn’t, be putting online and in our print edition, I hope you’ll continue to share them with me.
Thanks for reading.