Photojournalism is a type of journalism that utilizes images, whether moving or still, to convey a news event. Though many people think of photojournalists and photographers as being one and the same, photojournalists in the field of broadcast journalism are heavily video based, according to White.
A media study by the Pew Research Center revealed a widespread trend of declining newsroom personnel. In order to combat this decline, those still working in the newsroom are required to be versatile and take on a vast array of tasks that were not always demanded of their profession. White, a veteran photojournalist for 18 years, is not immune to the increased demands in his profession.
“There was a period of time, even here at Fox, where management said, everybody needsto know how to shoot, edit, and write a story,” said White.
Not only is it essential for photojournalists to cross occupational boundaries in terms of skill set, but they also must be literate on different news platforms. It is vital that photojournalists have the capacity to work in broadcast, print, online, and social media because of increased media convergence, according to a career site for journalism degrees.
According to the Pew Research Center, while the work of photographers in the newsroom is decreasing, videographers are one of just two fields on the increase, so a multidisciplinary approach for a photojournalist can improve employment prospects.
However, according to White, technical skill isn’t the only important aspect to being a photojournalist. Successful photojournalists also need good communication and people skills.
“Everyday I’m out on the streets of the Denver Metro Area, and I meet a handful of new people every single day,” said White.
The mobile nature of photojournalism that exposes people like White to unique people, is also a factor that makes the schedule of a photojournalist very unpredictable.
“A typical workweek, I guess, can be pretty atypical because every day is different. I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow,” said White. “All that I know is that I’ll be out in the city somewhere meeting people, trying to tell their story.”
A sporadic work week is characteristic of the news industry because of the unpredictable nature of breaking news, according to Sokanu, an online platform for exploring careers.
“A photojournalist does not have a typical nine-to-five desk job,” according to Sokanu. “When news breaks, they must be ready to go immediately; they are always on call 24/7, and often work long hours.”
According to White, even if a he is nearing the end of his shift, a breaking news event will take precedence over him ending his shift on time.
“Like [with] the Aurora Theater shooting, when that happened, I think I put in three 16-hour days in a row,” said White. “So when stuff’s going down, you are pretty well-tied to it.”
While news has been an industry that is constantly being renewed with newsworthy events, the rise of citizen journalism has been jeopardizing many media jobs, according to a news blog in the Chicago Tribune by Alex Garcia.
“Whereas, some citizen photojournalists are skilled behind a camera, many are not,” said Garcia. “There can be a huge difference in what you cognitively experience at a situation and what the picture communicates.”
White also admitted that he felt threatened at times by citizen journalism and the movement of having reporters shoot their own video on cell phones. However, he noted that the inherent difference in quality between a smart phone clip and one taken on a professional camera still gave an edge up to photojournalists.
“Now, in the heart of breaking news, when that’s the only camera there, oh of course you’re going to use that, absolutely,” said White. “But I think that leads a lot of people to think, just give everybody in the world a camera and we’ll get everything. And to an extent, you would, but would it be the best quality? No it wouldn’t.”
Quality photography is something that many photojournalists are capable of that citizen journalists aren’t necessarily skilled enough to produce, according to White. Though composition, lighting, and technical skills can be taught, photography as an art form is not something that just everyone can do.
“Somebody told me that you can’t teach great photography. That’s something that, somebody just has an eye for a photograph,” said White. “You can teach somebody how to compose a shot and how to light a shot, but everybody’s going to see that shot differently.”