An English putz by the name of Roy Greenslade recently penned an article for the British national daily newspaper, The Guardian. In it he suggested photographers were redundant and would someday soon vanish from the landscape of editorial journalism.
But why should anyone be surprised? Greenslade is just another hack who couldn't make it as a reporter and has instead resorted to sensationalism as a columnist in an effort cobble together a career and justify seven long years of journalism school. Columnists like Greenslade are a dime a dozen. They lack the intellectual capacity AND people skills to do anything else except press buttons as a columnist, which is the lowest form of writing. And it really isn't all that shocking. What I do find interesting, though, is that an all-knowing buffoon like Greenslade isn't smart enough to recognize that his industry is far more likely to become a relic of the past than photography.
Journalism, or the art of writing fair, unbiased articles for newspapers, magazines, blogs, and/or electronic media is very nearly dead. Instead of reporting facts about the news, "journalists" opine about what they think happened instead. Where they once reported "nothing but the facts" and let the readers think for themselves, they now craft news to promote their own opinions and self-righteous views of the world. What a concept. Somewhere along the way we as readers became too stupid to draw our own conclusions. So today's "journalists" no longer show us how to think, they instead tell us what to think. And like a slice of lemmings senselessly following each other over the precipice of a cliff, we as consumers have accepted this as the new norm.
So you see, instead of reporting the news, people like Greenslade are becoming the news. They curate vapid, unintelligent tidbits that concern only the dumbest among us.
Greenslade is clearly unaware of the fact that newspapers, like his own, struggle every day to maintain their relevancy...not realizing most national newspapers lost relevancy a long time ago. Case in point; according to Gallup, 55% of American citizens get their news from TV, 21% from the Internet, and 6% from radio. As for Greenslade's employer? Only 9% get their news from print. What's more, reading habits have also changed. Newspapers and online news sources can't get people to read past the first few paragraphs.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, children no longer read and write in the traditional way. They skim and surf articles. They no longer read them from the beginning to the end. The longer the article, the less likely they are to consume it. To further prove this, CNBC recently admitted that half of its readers dump a story after the first three paragraphs.
But there is hope for Greenslade's readers. If CNBC's information is accurate, only 16% of the people who began reading his article made it to the end, which spared them his irritating arrogance and acute lack of foresight.
So, in the face of these changes, what is a newspaper website to do? Well, many are shutting their doors. Or they could follow the lead of France's third-largest national newspaper, Liberation, which will try to turn around its struggling daily newspaper by transforming it into a "social network." I'm not sure if that novel approach will work or not, but there is one other option. Newspapers could try to make news and information more presentable.
Much to his chagrin, I'm sure, Greenslade's chief competitor The Daily Mail has done just that. Not too long ago The Daily Mail revamped its website and began to incorporate long-winded headlines and LOTS of photography. Not less, Mr. Greenslade. And did you also notice the articles have fewer words, not more? As a result of these changes their readership skyrocketed. Where it was once failing, The Daily Mail was suddenly relevant again and prospering. If readers are going to digest news and information, publishers are going to have to sprinkle it with candy. And photography is the ultimate eye candy.
Sure, newspapers may resort to canning their photographers, like the Chicago Sun-Times did. Their promise was that a bunch of know-nothing "journalists" armed with a smart phone can take photos, too. But doing so will doom their publication to fail. All you have to do is look at a comparison of the covers produced by in-city rivals the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune. Which publication are you more likely to read?
Photography is art, just like writing is (neither of which Mr. Greenslade is particularly gifted in). Successful media outlets today use MORE photography, not less. And if trends continue publications and websites are likely to use fewer words, too. Which means Greenslade's job is far more likely to vanish into obscurity than mine.