Leaving Out Photographers  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Letters
From AJR,   October/November 2004

Leaving Out Photographers   


I was dismayed and chagrined to find that your Washington bureau survey of minority staffers deliberately left out anyone in photography and info graphics ("Lagging Behind," August/September 2004). Toren Beasley, director of photography, and Monica Seaberry, info graphic artist, have been an integral part of the Newhouse Washington bureau for 14 years.

They have considerable journalistic skills and are not only in charge of the photo and graphic report, but are a key part of our everyday decisions on what we cover and how we cover it.

Beasley has been involved in every large project we have done and is a true editor -- one who often sees holes in stories or key elements that need to be resolved. He was the photo editor on our Pulitzer Prize-winning photo project on female circumcision in Africa. He doesn't just edit photos; he adds a distinct sensibility and important point of view to stories we do on many of our beats.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors does not leave photo and graphic journalists out of their annual, authoritative survey on minorities in the newspaper business. And we are long past viewing photographers, photo editors and graphic and design journalists as second-class citizens.

In a survey that told your readers that Washington bureaus have a long way to go in diversity, I would say that AJR -- with its misguided policy to leave out photo and graphics professionals -- has a long way to go before it truly measures that diversity in Washington, D.C.

Deborah Howell
Bureau chief, Newhouse News Service
Washington, D.C.

Christopher Callahan, author of the story, responds: First, a correction to Deborah Howell's letter: The survey was not conducted by AJR. It was a joint project of UNITY: Journalists of Color Inc. and the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. AJR published part of the results of the research in a story.

There are several reasons why photographers/graphic artists were not included in the UNITY-Maryland census. First, for three of the largest news organizations surveyed, the Washington Post, USA Today and the Washington Times, it was not possible to identify photographers in "the Washington press corps" versus other staff photographers. Since those newspapers are based in Washington, their photographers cover all types of stories, not just stories that would be covered by a Washington bureau. Second, few of the Washington bureaus we surveyed had photographers or graphic artists of any kind. Our attempt in the UNITY-Maryland project was to provide a picture of "the Washington press corps" and as evenly as possible compare "apples to apples." We defined the Washington press corps as reporters, correspondents, columnists, editors and bureau chiefs. We believe those are the journalists who most define how Washington is covered.

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