From TOM MIHALEK: Hi Jim, Let me state from the beginning that what I’m writing to you about probably interests nobody, except the few photographers, like myself, who have been shooting for many years and are pissed off about the lack of respect we get for our craft anymore. This letter is more-or-less me blowing of a little steam.
I read the “search for jobs” sites of many different journalism websites like “Indeed” or “JournalismJobs” looking for photographer or photo editor positions and have come across a disturbing and wide-spread trend. Many, if not all of these open positions, ask for a photographer who is skilled at shooting stills and video. What, you may ask, is wrong with this? Well, how many job postings do you see – maybe for local TV news stations- that want the applicant for a videographer position to be adept at shooting still photography too? I can tell you: Zero.
There’s a reason; while both require a camera, each requires a different educational background and skill set to do it right.
Comparatively, it’s like looking to hire a highly-skilled carpenter to re-do your kitchen and requiring that he also be a roofer or an air conditioning specialist to get the job. Just because the guy you hired has great skill doing kitchen re-do’s with tools doesn’t mean he should be able to use those same skills, with the same or similar tools on a completely different task, like roofing.
Re-doing a kitchen and roofing a house – while they may require some of the same tools, like a hammer, are as different as shooting quality still photographs for publication and shooting video for broadcast (either web or TV), even though both require some of the same tools – a camera and a means to edit the raw take.
Telling a story with a photograph is about condensing the story into one or two meaningful images that convey the heart of the story to the reader. [I’m purposely omitting the photo essay here.] Telling a story with videography is about a continuity of images pieced together in a sequence that conveys the storyline. These two visual mediums are as different as are their names.
Yet this important fact completely escapes editors doing the hiring at papers big and small. To me, this shows the ignorance on the part of those posting the job as to what goes into each craft, the skills required to do each well and shows a lack of respect for the skills of an experienced photographer. For an example see this listing.
It’s easy to blame the bean-counters, the economy or the current trends as newspapers continue trying to keep relevant by adding more and more web content and of course the ‘get someone who can do it all – and cheaply too’ philosophy. And actually, I think it’s all of those facts put together plus a general lack of respect for the photojournalist.
It’s a pity, or a disgrace, to see such demands being made at a time when many salaries offered are barely enough to pay the bills.