Why Is Photojournalism Important

Michele Wanke
Photojournalists impact the way we view news.

Can you image reading a newspaper or magazine that was void of images? How would you react if you had to watch television news broadcasts that didn't include a stitch of video? These entities would be incomplete without pictures. Photos make or break media products. However, these images must be relevant to the event and society to be effective. In addition, the photos must be accurate, informative, and able to convey what is happening during a particular moment in time.

Pictures vs. Words

The world relies on photojournalists to shoot compelling photos that enhance news stories. Images taken by photojournalists should summarize what has been written in an article. By doing so, newspaper reading and news watching becomes more effective as one can better relate the news to real-life situations and understand fully what it must be like to be in that actual place at that actual time. This is especially true for people who don't have time to read a magazine from cover to cover. For hurried or slightly disinterested individuals, photos speak louder than words.

Another positive attribute about photos is that they possess an objective quality. Pictures, when taken correctly with relevant content, are unbiased. Readers or viewers are left to make their own decisions on what the truth is. Conversely, words can carry the bias of the person who wrote them.

A good photojournalist is cognizant that in shooting an event, he is upholding a level of public trust that should not be violated. Therefore, his images should be accurate, timely, and visually stimulating so they help viewers identify with the news story being told.

The Goal of Photojournalists

A photojournalist's job is to tell a story with pictures. Perhaps more importantly, his goal is to convey the truth through the images he captures with his camera. A skilled photojournalist doesn't just show up to a news event and snap a few pictures. Rather, his objective is to highlight important issues. Remarkably, he can often do so with a single photograph.

Documenting Newsworthy Events

It is not easy being a professional photojournalist. Often photojournalists must risk injury to document newsworthy events. Consider what war photojournalists must endure to get the shots that shape your perspective on international battles and the tremendous loss of human life. Then, think about the photojournalists whose duty it is to report on the AIDS epidemic in Africa, starving and abused children in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, and infants being mutilated in Nigeria. Their jobs expose them to despicable scenes that are often seared in their memories forever.

Through photographs of these scenarios, viewers are able to get a glimpse of what is going on in places they would never consider visiting or know little about. A photojournalist's images make people more aware of society's ills and what is transpiring around the world.

Compelling Examples of Photojournalism

Photojournalism has always been important, but its impact became even more integral during World War II, when photos taken from the frontlines were sent back home and gave readers a feeling of what was happening a half a world away. In the last century, newspaper readers and television viewers have been shaped by the images captured by photojournalists. These days, the public depend on pictures to not only tell a story, but to help create a connection to it, as well.

The Impact of Photojournalism

With the advent of the Internet, smartphones, and digital photography, photojournalism has become more popular than ever. People need to see the devastation one piece of shrapnel can do to a family. They need to remember the importance of the first moonwalk. They need to consider how life changed for the world on 9/11. One can do so by looking at pictures.

Why Is Photojournalism Important