Inclusions and Exclusions: Content of Research Paper

With the approximate target of between 1,500 and 2,000 words (depending on the pace of the presentation), it was clear that I would need to make certain inclusions and exclusions. Although everything I have read can be relevant in some context (even in the ruling out of subject matter), it can’t all be included in this short research paper. If I was doing an dissertation or thesis for a PHD or Masters, I could take these concepts and elaborate on them but my research paper needs to be specific and concise in order to be effective and keep the audience interested. Below is a list of all the concepts and issues I would like to include in my paper:

  • The effect of digital technology on how the audience ‘sees’ the image and how this relates to Walter Benjamin: aura and proximity. Reproduction and generic content in the digital image means that images are skimmed – the proximity between the audience and the image is reduced by the ease of discovering and seeing
  • Mass image culture reduces the impact of the Barthes punctum affect – the desensitisation of the audience to imagery and shocking content – relate to Ritchin, can there be any defining cover/iconic imagery anymore?
  • Social media against conventional media – is the instantaneous nature and the sharing facility more suitable for the fast pace of news today? Who will control the content and who will be responsible for it now the traditional gate keepers are being displaced?
  • Consumable content – mass image culture has possibly shaped photojournalism and other information to become easier for the audience to consume – can reference Benjamin Lowy’s images in this aspect. His imagery is similar to that of Instagram/Polaroid camera therefore the imagery is relatable and easy to consume, but how does this make his imagery useful if it doesn’t provoke? Reference filter bubbles (Eli Pariser) and how the audience should be challenged.
  • Manipulation and the effect on photographic truth, the exploitation of the audience for the sake of a better aesthetic, the place for editing in photojournalism, Martha Rosler’s viewpoint on keeping ‘straight’ photography and conceptual photography separate.
  • New digital techniques, liberation from the photoessay, what new features have been run in response to the new technology available – focus on the case studies from Time Magazine, talk about the new front page in digital photojournalism? What is the responsibility of the photojournalist?
  • The approach to representation – reference Abigail Solomon Godeau’s Inside/Out, Barthes spectator/target, Martha Rosler ‘victim photography’ how exploitation and misrepresentation could possibly happen through photojournalism, the ethics behind photojournalism as a practice
  • The circulation and context of photojournalism as a final outcome – the importance of considering which environment would be most effective for each individual body of work. Marcus Bleasdale changed his existing body of work into a series of comics and now a video game to engage with different audiences. Broomberg and Chanarin however are not photojournalists but artists who produced a work that comments on photojournalism, this work should be kept separate from the genre of photojournalism as this work would be misinterpreted and perhaps be less effective
  • Citizen journalism and the term ‘networked journalism’ from SuperMedia, Charlie Beckett – the increase of citizen content and footage in the reportage of the world, the believability of the content because of the aesthetic and the relationship of the photographer with the environment, do we need the professional photojournalist anymore when we have this free, continuous stream of information from the citizens?
  • Hacker culture and the concept of leaked news in the digital age with the celebrity nude photo scandals, does hackerism have a place in the world of photojournalism, does it reveal news that would otherwise have been hidden, is this news actually in the interest of the public and in that case why was it held back? The idea of all information should be free in the online world against the need of the professionals/publications to make a profit through imagery, social media represents the largest archive of images and video in the world
  • What is a professional photojournalist in the current state of photojournalism? With citizens producing imagery and the ‘free information’ culture created, is there any viable market for the professional journalist anymore? If conventional media starts using the content of social media there might be no place for the professional. Reference Chicago Sun Times example, reference Sports Illustrated for getting rid of their photographers

 

Evaluating the importance of each concept and whether it had a place in my symposium paper was extremely difficult as everything listed above is relevant to the concept of photojournalism now. I had to determine which concepts would link together and flow effectively in the space of 1,500 to 2,000 words. Initially I based my structure on an opposition of Fred Ritchin and Stephen Mayes ideology so naturally I chose to include some of the topics spoken about by these writers which are: new digital techniques, manipulation, the nature of the digital image, the smartphone, mass image culture and the definition of the professional photojournalist.

However in the process of writing and rewriting my drafts it appeared that I needed to include more areas such as the issues associated in representation and photojournalism in the context of art. For this reason I included the work of Broomberg and Chanarin and researched ideology surrounding the representation of vulnerable people. This meant that I had two additional sections, and therefore I needed to trim down and make the original writing more concise. After various other redrafts it was identified that my current structure didn’t appear to flow as effectively as it could do, so I examined the point of each sentence and paragraph in relation to my overall question and adapted the structure slightly. I took some case studies out and rewrote parts of my introduction and conclusion, this was all to refine my symposium paper.

Looking back on the original list of content reminded me that I did have to exclude an awful lot of content, not only in relation to the concepts I couldn’t include altogether but in addition, I could have gone into much more detail on the concepts I did incorporate. In response to this, I have decided to write a series of stand-alone blog posts which examine each individual content, where I will be able to discuss in detail what I would have liked to discuss in my symposium paper. These individual subjects will be:

  • The Professional Photojournalist
  • Citizen Journalism
  • Manipulation in Photojournalism
  • Representation in Photojournalism
  • Hacker Culture and the Impact on Digital Photojournalism
  • The Final Visual Outcome: circulation and context
  • Mass Image Culture and the Impact on the Image
  • Social Media and Conventional Media
  • Exploring New Digital Techniques

There are certain points addressed in my original list that will be encompassed in these broader topics as some of them relate to the same or similar themes. These independent blog posts will be published and marketed on my social media outlets to inform the viewer that there is additional content, should they wish to read further. In summary, this is my response to my problem of deciding which content to use in my symposium paper. If I was to continue this work further after the module I might consider releasing these smaller scale pieces either in the form of a talk or visual presentation.

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