Academic journal article Journal of Media Research

The Dual Model of the Digital Photo Journalist: A Case Study on Romanian Photojournalism beyond the Economic Crisis

Academic journal article Journal of Media Research

The Dual Model of the Digital Photo Journalist: A Case Study on Romanian Photojournalism beyond the Economic Crisis

Article excerpt

1. Preamble: a brief overview of the Romanian printed press

Around 2009, the main titles of the local quality press relied on national editions of 64 pages for Adevärul, or 40 pages for Jurnalul National, or on supplements of 128 pages for Adevärul de Weekend. Newspaper groups were launching periodically new products, free dailies (such as Adevärul de Searä, Compact and Ring) and daily themed supplements. Also, back then, the photo departments of the main newspaper groups included teams of over ten photojoumalists.

Nowadays, at the time of this study, more than a handful of the main titles no longer have print editions: Cotidianul and Business Standard since December 2009, Ziua and Gardianul since January 2010, Financiarul and Gandul since 2011 and ProSport since December 9th, 2013. Two of them, Ziua and Gardianul have closed even their on-line platforms, shortly after ceasing their print editions. Besides heavy cuts in the number of pages (from 64 pages to 32 for Adevärul, or from 40 pages to 16 for Jurnalul National), there is also a change of format, from broadsheet or Berliner to tabloid (Evenimentul Zilei, Adevärul and Jurnalul National), as well as reductions or closures of supplements (Pagina de media, Selected articles, 20102014). Finally, photo departments barely number one to three photojoumalists.

Apart from illustrating the dramatic recent changes of the Romanian newspapers, this brief comparison highlights a first observation regarding a defining element in the work of photojoumalists: there is a constant decline of dedicated space for press photography in print media, both in terms of surface and quantity, of number of images. Still, the question is far from being a local matter, as the global dimension of the financial recession changed the working conditions of professionals all over the world (Wellford 2013)1. Nevertheless, a deeper enquiry among the local photojoumalist community suggests that, besides press photo decline, the newspaper crisis cannot be reduced to the only effects of the economic turmoil affecting local and global media.

Part of an ongoing study on Romanian photojournalism, this article explores the specific definition of the "crisis" notion taking into consideration both the impact of the financial recession and, before that, of the adoption of digital technology. As Siles and Boczkowski observe, in a review article assessing the recent body of research focusing on the newspaper crisis (Siles & Boczkowski 2012), investigation of the crisis should adopt a process orientation, instead of focusing on the outcomes. Moreover, the agenda for future research should also embrace further productive strategies, such as integrating a historical perspective, conducting a more international, comparative research and supplementing the empirical research based on qualitative methods.

Critical to our understanding of the subject is to consider the actual development of Romanian photojournalism according to a process-driven perspective. In this respect, the question is how local professionals react to economic and technological changes, as well as their response to the transformation of the media industry. An interrogation on the crisis theoretical framework is key to our approach.

2. A crisis within a crisis

The first issue we intend to explore is the definition of the "crisis" notion in the context of media industry. Hitherto, the global financial crisis that unfolded since 2008 appears to be only the tip of the iceberg, as it amplified the economic difficulties that the industry was already facing, under the effects of the emerging digital media eroding the traditional business models of the print news. Two main quality titles, The Times and The Independent, changing their newspaper format from broadsheet to tabloid, may well illustrate an adaptive strategy of the British press groups (Zegout 2013).

Moreover, one can only notice the polysemy of the "crisis" notion, linked to a cyclic process that goes way back in the history of print news. …

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