Of course I have to thank Facebook for the privilege of being regularly privy to Burnett’s musings. Because without it I might not remember to check his blog as often as it merits among the millions of other sources of inspiration that float in the ether.
Burnettâ€™s blog is a lament on how the digital age has left we practitioners of visual journalism scattered and socially fragmented across the landscape.
And heâ€™s right. He speaks of the Golden Age of photojournalism, a period I am just old enough to have had a fleeting glimpse before it began to disappear rapidly into the rear-view mirror.
I remember when deadlines were at 9 or 10 at night, and when I could finish shooting an assignment, and if I didnâ€™t have another one right away (granted that was rare in the world of small newspapers, but it did happen) I could stop, chew the proverbial (or real) fat with a group of colleagues.
Or, even if deadlines made it necessary at the end of an assignment to beat feet home to the office and the Wing-Lynch, there was probably still time during to at least say â€œhey, how you doing?â€, maybe even exchange a few more pleasantries.
But those days are oh-so-over. I was there this very week. Republican Linda McMahon announced her second bid in as many years for the U.S. Senate. The crowd there was large as news events go in Connecticut these days. Newspaper, TV, wire and web photojournalists. And other than a quick nod here and there, we were all too busy to connect. Itâ€™s not just the immediate deadline, itâ€™s the volume of content most of us had to produce in a limited amount of time. In addition to a photo or two for our printed edition, I had to work hard to get enough photos to create a photo gallery on our web site. Oh, and I had to set-up a video camera to record the announcement, also to be posted to our web site.
Given those demands itâ€™s no wonder none of us had time to connect in person. And so we rely on the silicon networks in an attempt to make those connections and feel like we are all still part of one big, happy group of visual journalists.
It is, sadly, of no comparison and leaves me, and I suspect many of you, vaguely dissatisfied.
But still we slog forward. We complete our dayâ€™s work. We download, edit, upload, file, caption, render, blog, tweet and whatever else we need to do and then just hope we can keep our cynicism in check long enough to post pleasant, witty and insightful comments on our friendsâ€™ facebook pages before we head off to bed to get some rest to do it all again tomorrow.
See you all in the trenches.