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Portions of this column were originally written for the February 2010 edition of News Photographer Magazine.
Mark Loundy is a media producer and consultant based in San Jose, California. Full bio.
The opinions in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Press Photographers Association.
February 2010, Volume 88
By Mark Loundy
"These are the good old days"
Unless you're waking up from a coma, you will have noticed that newspaper employment is not the cozy lifetime arrangement that it once was. A chart in Marketwatch.com, based on numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that employment in the newspaper industry fell off a cliff at the turn of the century. It's currently at levels not seen since the early 1950s and plummeting.
The head of the UK's Telegraph Media Group's digital development recently announced his resignation by saying, "The future is individual journalists, not big media." This means that everybody is going to be a freelancer. The gutting of nearly the entire Washington Times photo department shows that this particularly affects photographers.
So now what? If you're going to stay in the media business you're going to have to learn to be in business. Even those of you whose papers financed your upcoming Pulitzers for your work in Haiti won't be able to escape the changes.
As in any business, it helps to fill a need. There simply is no longer any general need for "newspaper photographers." You will not only need to find a niche market, but you will need to expand your toolkit to meet the varying needs of the market. That doesn't just mean buying a video camera, it means becoming a holistic journalist.
Spelling counts, design counts, audio, platform, user interface and social media all count. And you're going to have to become at least conversant in all of them.
But you won't have to become the Leonardo da Vinci of multimedia all by yourself. Ad hoc teams will come together for single projects. One member might be a coding geek. Another might be an ace grant writer. (Oh yeah, money counts too.) Still another might specialize in writing. You won't have to go it alone.
The good old days are so over.
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