Greenberg accurately points out that the partnership between news organizations and the public have already been established, and denial of that situation is naive. If I were a working photojournalist, I would be offended at this proclamation, but he does astutely point out that the images that were produced by amateurs were “good enough” for use in mainstream publications.
The fact is that pros cannot be everywhere at all times, and in many cases, documenting a scene doesn’t necessarily require sharp journalisms skills. Often times, almost any picture will help to crystallize what words cannot convey accurately. And since some news organizations did use content wholly-produced by amateurs, this is a truism.
© Brendan McDermid/Reuters
That said, I do feel that the iconic image of the day was shot by a pro, Brendan McDermid of Reuters. A pro who was able to capture not just the environment but the confusion, devastation, and human toll that was wreaked. It was an image that made me stop, and pause, whereas the citizen journalism didn’t.
Does a better picture make a difference to a consumer? More importantly, would a news organization choose a “better” picture over a free one? The answer to both is “I hope so.” But as news budgets are challenged, and Wall Street pressures parent organizations towards more profitability, these answers might change.