Tag Archive: conflict
Conflict reporting is a dangerous undertaking increasingly dominated by the work of freelance journalists (as high as 80% of journalists working in Syria are freelancers), most of whom lack the legal, financial, and security resources of large news organizations while working in risky environments. Vaughan Smith, of London’s Frontline Club, and a group of freelance photographers and other journalists have organized the Frontline Freelance Register to address the issue of freelancers putting themselves at risk without the institutional backing of large news organizations (two French freelancers freelancers were just abducted in Syria; James Foley has been missing for 204 days as of the writing of this post). The FFR is billed as “a representative body for freelance journalists exposed to risk while gathering news” and will work to establish and promote industry-wide safety standards and best practices for journalists working abroad in difficult and dangerous circumstances.
If you work in dangerous environments, you can apply to join the FFR here.
Related: RISC trains freelance conflict journalists to treat life-threatening injuries in the battlefield.
You may be familiar with Jens Olof Lasthein‘s work after he won the 2010 Oskar Barnack Award for his pictures from Abkhazia. I was looking through his portfolio yesterday and fell in love with Lasthein’s series “Cows At War”. It’s a flash site, so there’s no way to link directly. Click on “Works”, then “Cows At War.”
The series shows cows and a few dogs and horses in the middle of war-torn Abkhazia. It’s an unexpected and humorous reminder that the ordinary persists throughout even the most difficult circumstances. There may be bullets flying and bombs exploding, but a cow will just keep chewing its cud through it all. In the same vein, you might recall Todd Heisler‘s What Has Four Legs and Follows Me?
After submitting pictures from Aleppo this week Rick Findler was told by the foreign desk that “it looks like you have done some exceptional work” but “we have a policy of not taking copy from Syria as we believe the dangers of operating there are too great”. -Sunday Times tells freelances [sic] not to submit photographs from Syria
The British newspaper, The Sunday Times, has told a freelance photographer not to submit photos from Syria because the risk of working there is too great. After sending pictures from Aleppo, Syria, to the paper for consideration, conflict photographer Rick Findler was told that the paper has a policy not to look at non-commissioned reporting from the country. It’s an interesting development for the photojournalism industry, especially since closures of foreign bureaus have increased news publications’ reliance on freelancers for international reporting. Conflict reporting is a dangerous and expensive operation, and when things go bad freelancers lack the institutional support afforded to staff reporters.
Speaking to the Press Gazette, The Sunday Times policy deputy foreign editor Graeme Paterson cited just these concerns in explaining the paper’s policy against hiring freelancers to cover Syria or license their work from the region even after the reporter has gotten out of the country. Speaking on the matter, Paterson said, “…we take the same view regarding freelancers speccing in material. Even if they have returned home safely. This is because it could be seen as encouragement go out and take unnecessary risks in the future. The situation out there is incredibly risky. And we do not want to see any more bloodshed. There has been far too much already.”
…framing the problem in terms of either the diminishment or promotion of compassion means we are incapable of generating the move from singular expression to collective action. The myth of compassion fatigue, then, frames the issue in a way that can only fail. ‘Compassion fatigue’ – aside from being unsupported even in its own terms – is entirely the wrong concept for thinking about how the images produced by photojournalism work. And for too long it has prevented that thinking from progressing. -David Campbell, The Myth of Compassion Fatigue (pdf)
Susan Sontag’s long reach extends to current discussions of the effects of photojournalism, but one of the central arguments in On Photography, that audiences have become weary of caring about humanitarian crises due to the endless promulgation of reporting and photography, was vague and baseless. But the idea of “compassion fatigue” continues.
David Campbell, a thoughtful writer on photojournalism, has just published a draft of one of his most recent papers, “The Myth of Compassion Fatigue” (pdf). There’s a summary of the paper’s main points on his blog. The paper addresses the origins of the idea of compassion fatigue, Sontag’s own reversal of her original thesis, current thinking about compassion fatigue, and, most importantly, a look at what sort of evidence might indicate that compassion fatigue is a problem. Looking at figures on charitable giving, Campbell shows that an overabundance of images and things to care about has not diminished public donations. Compassion fatigue isn’t a significant problem in the way that most people think it is. The paper “reviews all the available evidence of which I am aware relating to the relations between photographs, compassion and charitable responses. None of that evidence supports the compassion fatigue thesis.”
Campbell raises a point at the end of his paper which deserves more investigation. The constant stream of imagery and reporting from crises near and far continues to create compassion among audiences, but measuring public response to extreme circumstances only in terms of compassion may be the wrong way of looking at things.
has just published will soon release a new book, Questions Without Answers: The World in Pictures by the Photographers of VII, and it looks like a doozy. Collecting the work of all of the full members of VII (less one James Nachtwey, who recently announced he has left the collective), the book is a compendium of stories from the past 20 years relating to our current political, social, and economic atmosphere. This book follows in the footsteps of previous VII joint publications such as War: USA, Afghanistan, Iraq and other books available in the VII store.
By the way, if you buy the book through Amazon, or anything else, after clicking the links above, dvafoto will get a small percentage of the purchase price that we put toward the cost of running the site. Thanks for the support!
More than anything though, Tim’s photos speak to what it means to be a man and how war often defines masculinity. “Photography is great at representing the hardware of the war machine,” he told his good friend and writer Stephen Mayes, a month before he died. “But the truth is that the war machine is the software, as much as the hardware. The software runs it, and the software is young men. I’m not so young anymore. But I get it. That’s really what my work is about.” -Newsweek editor James Wellford
Newsweek has just published Tim Hetherington’s final images, from Libya in April 2011. Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed in Misrata, Libya, on April 20, 2011 (Remembrances).
Last week saw the release of snippets of video from a treasure trove of video and stills from the early days of Gaddafi found by Hetherington and Human Rights Watch researcher Peter Bouckaert after a Libyan state security office was burned and looted by protesters.
“I was photographing a funeral, and having spent most of the day with the women, I went to see the body being taken in. A man in the procession started screaming, ‘CIA agent’ and pointing at me. I was surrounded by hundreds of angry men, screaming in my face, grabbing me. I was terrified, and thought, ‘This is it. I am going to die.’” -Ami Vitale in The shot that nearly killed me: War photographers – a special report, the Guardian.
While we all know war photography is a dangerous business–and that’s come into sharp focus in Libya this year, especially–viewers often don’t realize just how quickly a situation can go from sort of okay to life-threatening. That’s what I find so compelling about this collection of short vignettes in the Guardian by photojournalists about the shots that nearly got them killed. Some are stories we know well but remain harrowing: Lynsey Addario talks about her capture and treatment in Libya earlier this year (previously on dvafoto); João Silva relates stepping on a landmine in October 2010.
But others offer a close look into the chaos of being on the ground in far-flung places with only a camera between the photographer and nearly certain death: Ami Vitale describes the time a mob in Gaza thought she was a CIA agent and began to attack; Marco di Lauro talks about when a grenade was thrown in his direction; John D McHugh writes about getting shot while embedded in Afghanistan. None of these are easy reading, and the article serves as a chilling reminder of what goes on before, during, and after a photographer gets the picture.
Reports are just coming in confirming the deaths of photojournalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros in Libya. The two were killed while covering fighting in a city called Misrata. ABCNews reports that there were three other photojournalists injured alongside Hondros and Hetherington: Michael Christopher Brown, Andre Liohn and an unknown third. These three are alive.
Our thoughts go out to the families of Hetherington and Hondros and other journalists in danger in Libya and elsewhere.
I had some shit happen yesterday, originally I had no desire to let anyone know. But after watching the news, realizing I was one of many, and that I was very lucky, I’ve decided I’ll write a small account of what happened: 1) Because it adds an account to what is occuring here, simply put it’s news. 2) I’m holed up the hotel right now, as of right now (9AM) I dont know a single journalist heading out on the ground today. -Andrew Burton, Feb. 3, 2011
Andrew Burton has been covering the unfolding news in Egypt. Yesterday he was attacked while doing so in Cairo, and he’s written a harrowing account of what it’s like to be attacked by a mob. Thankfully, he was rescued. You can see some of Burton’s photos from the day of the attack on his blog.
Ron Haviv (didn’t know he had a personal site, by the way, in addition to what’s on the VII website) has also been covering protests in Egypt, and told MSNBC’s PHOTOblog about the dangers and difficulties of getting close to protesters (video below):
Some of Haviv’s pictures are available on VII’s website.
Quite a few friends of dvafoto are on the ground in Egypt, and we wish them safety and good journalism.
Restrepo, Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger’s documentary about one American platoon fighting in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, has been picked up for distribution and will be shown in theaters starting in summer 2010. The movie’s website has information on screenings, and the trailer is available to watch online.