In an interview with The New York Times, veteran photojournalist Donald R. Winslow let out a sigh for himself and his comrades.

“Renaissance artists were supported by patrons. There are no patrons supporting photojournalism now. The patrons were newspapers and magazines. And they’ve cut off the money. That’s just the raw truth of it,” said Winslow in the interview.

He’s not the only one sighing, either.


Photo by Billy Murray from a 2016 Donald Trump rally in NYC

Newspapers have had to play a new game since the advent of the internet: the survival game. Since the new millennium, the print news industry has let go of 43 percent of its hired hand, leaving little staff positions for both photographers and reporters. Few have survived in spite of their efforts to win; the world has seen century-old treasures like the Rocky Mountain News bite the dust. Less and less photographers are staying on as employees of the news; more of them find it practical to work independently.

Part of Winslow’s frustration with shrinking newsrooms is that photojournalists’ assignments are disappearing with them. Instead of transporting, housing and putting a staff photographer on payroll, photo editors are using Google to locate photographers who are already within range of a story. Will Steacy, who had been brought onto the Philadelphia Inquirer before its decline, raises a complaint similar to Winslow’s:


Photo by Billy Murray from a 2016 Donald Trump rally in NYC

“They once sent a guy off to study the fate of the black rhino for six months,” he recalls. “Now no story gets done that involves much more than a half-hour drive from the city,” writes Steacy in an artist’s statement.

Photojournalists now have to compete with stock imagery companies, a beast unbeknownst to the news before the rage of the internet. In the Times interview, Winslow explains the impact of this is that photographers are becoming complacent with lower wages. “She just sold a picture for $1.50,” citing a friend in Rome, for example. She had sold 30 pictures to a small stock clip agency after driving a short hour to Tuscany.

Many stock agencies will pay as low as a dollar for a small-sized image and sell them to news outlets for cheap. News agencies can pay as little as $33 to see debris in a war-torn Syria. Editors that equip their reporters with iPhones and cameras add insult to injury, deeming the photojournalist dispensable.


Photo by Billy Murray from a 2016 Donald Trump rally in NYC

While maintaining that only “rich kids get to play at photojournalism,” Winslow gives a faint salute to those few still at it.

“But are they philanthropists, or are they trying to earn a living at it?”

Let us know what you think in the comments.

[via The New York Times]

  • Alanysse Fonseca

    This article is so disheartening to read. I was looking into different paths for my life when I came across photojournalism. I am in 11th grade and just getting started with the whole “deciding what I want to do with my life” process. The other day I was researching careers for people who want to help people but want to be economically sound (my guidance counselor laughed at me when I told him that). I quickly realized that, unless I wanted to spend thousands of dollars and nearly a decade of my life to become a neurosurgeon, I was going to have to re-evaluate what I really need and want. This past summer I was roaming through the streets of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico when I came across a small bookstore. Being the bookworm that I am, I asked my mom if we could check it out. We were strolling through the store, and a book with a black and white cover caught my eye. It was a book of photos taken in Puerto Rico in the early 20th century. I loved how the photographs told the entire story. They captured the people’s personalities and struggles. I instantly fell in love with photography, and more specifically telling a story through photos. Getting back to my search for a career, I realized, with everything going on in the media and around the world, that I needed to find a way to help people by telling their stories. I wanted to take pictures that would give a voice to people who were not being heard. In history class we look at pictures all the time that help us understand what people were experiencing in years past. I found out about photojournalism when I was picking classes to take in my senior year. So today, when I went to research this new path that I might take, I found this article. I made me sad to think that I did not even know anything about this career before I found out that it was most likely going to die out before I got to college. I am sorry for the rambling, but I hope that telling a story or giving someone else’s perspective through a photo is not destroyed.