A tragedy this week on New York subway platform placed a fellow freelance journalist in the crosshairs of controversy. R. Umar Abbasi, a freelance photographer working for The New York Post, was in the wrong place at the right time when he witnessed one subway rider allegedly push another to the tracks in front of an oncoming train … and captured the scene just seconds before impact for a spread on page one of the Post.
Abbas’s image inspired a healthy debate about the role of journalist as observer or Samaritan. J. Ross Baughman, who won a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism in 1978 for his coverage of the guerrilla war in southern Africa, and now a professor of journalism ethics, shared his impressions of the image on CNN. Gawker captured the thoughts of eight noted journalists and academics responding to the photo.
In attempting to report the story instead of becoming involved in the story, Abbasi and the Post managed to achieve the worst possible outcome — they’ve overshadowed the story.
Among those places this debate will be bandied about is America’s journalism schools, the best of which were recited this week by College Media Matters’s Daniel Reimold. Reimold says his 50 Best Journalism Schools and Programs at U.S. Colleges and Universities is ”strongly biased in favor of programs exciting me in the digital journalism realm and in some way aligned with quality campus media and professional publishing opportunities.”
Did your school make the list? Mine (Rutgers University) did not, but my wife’s (University of Texas at Austin) did. But I was a history major anyway.
Reimold’s biases are echoed by Lisa Armstrong, the new editor in chief of Loop21, a news site focused on the “global black community.” Armstrong told MediaBistro that she wants multimedia skills from her freelance reporters and the stories she publishes. “Rather than just presenting information to our audience, we want people to respond. So, whether it’s through some form of social media or on the website, we wanted it to be like we’re having a dialogue about issues that are important.”
But far from eliminating the dinosaurs among us, she said “I come from a print background, and I think we have an advantage on the Web.”
Those print titles are growing, according to Mr. Magazine’s Samir Husni, who reported 78 new titles hit the stands in November. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia subtracted one, shuttering Whole Living rather than sell the title, AdAge reported. ”The content will live on digitally within our website,” a spokesman said.
The changing role of PR in the era of ‘Pageview Journalism’ (ZDNet)… Why journalists should explore the business side of news (Poynter)… Hachette Book Group Implements New E-book Agreements (Publishers Weekly).
(Image by dilworthdesigns via Flickr, CC2.0)
This week on The Freelance Strategist:
- Your ‘Independent Moment’ — When to Make the Leap to Freelance
- On Assignment: How AJ Plunkett Found Freelance Lift-Off
- The Writer’s Desk: Fee-lance Writing — Live as a Writer