The Burden of Visual Truth. The Role of Photojournalism in Mediating Reality
The Burden of Visual Truth The Role of Photojournalism in Mediating Reality
Julianne H. Newton The University of Oregon
Photojournalism, at the beginning of the 21st century, finds itself at the proverbial crossroads: Will image-making technologies and public cynicism lead to its demise, or will journalists rise to the challenge by practicing a new, more credible form of visual journalism? From the time of its invention in the early 19th century, photography enjoyed the unparalleled credibility assumed through a mechanistic perception of a neutral, “mirror of nature” camera. By the beginning of the 20th century, photographs were being used as irrefutable evidence of the veracity of their manifest content, a position supported by empiricism, modernism, and the scientific method. Additionally, journalism's deliberate move toward objectivity in mid-20th-century media culture underscored the value of photographic evidence. By the 1960s, photojournalism was flourishing—the 35-mm camera had made the physical challenges of picture taking easier, printing advances had made publication of photographs a simpler matter, and news publications had begun to realize the informational ...