In hurricane coverage, ‘old school’ still rules

One thing we’ve learned from the coverage of Hurricane Sandy: old school is still cool. The still photographer is still the most fearless and respectable journalist.

They differ from the TV types because few people know their names. They focus on the story they’re covering, not making themselves the most visible element.

And then we have our friends in the TV business…

Despite the protestations of some network news directors that reporters who stand in water are on a par with combat reporters, they’re getting little love today.

The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf calls them out…


There are a lot of journalists I respect for putting themselves in harm’s way — journalists who chronicle wars, report on conditions in refugee camps, challenge the lies of repressive political regimes, or otherwise gather information that wouldn’t be disseminated save for risking their lives.

That isn’t what CNN and Velshi were doing. If standing in hurricanes for hours at a time were necessary to report on them, newspaper staffers would do it too. On TV, a camera mounted on a street corner might not be as entertaining. It might lack the drama of a human being in danger.

But it would adequately convey all the newsworthy information.

All in all, the still images captured by the pro photographers have all been almost unanimously more impressive than any video, with or without a reporter standing in the middle of it.

  • essjayok

    A side lesson: white dudes can’t dance.

    And: not even a hurricane can stop video bombers.

  • Ryan V.

    Considering that DSLRs can do video these days, I can imagine some pretty powerful video pieces with a Photojournalism ethos…I’d just expect to see them on the New York Times rather than on Cable news.

    When done right though, the immediacy of live news can be striking. Best example I can think of is the cameras following Giuliani on 9/11.