Photojournalism and change: voices of humility


How should we think about the contribution photojournalism might make to the task of social change? Reflecting on the Kony2012 phenomenon I concluded with observations about the difficulty of specifying how political change comes about and our potential contribution to it. Thinking more about this, I recalled videos in which two of the best photographers … Continued

Kony2012, symbolic action and the potential for change


A week on from the “Kony 2012” video eruption, I want to take a step back and ask: what does this tells us about the media economy, what does it suggest about the state of activism, and how should we think about change in the face of global problems? I’m not going to add much … Continued

The myth of compassion fatigue


Before we can construct a meaningful account that traces possible links between visual representation, knowledge and action, we need to dispense with some conventional wisdoms that purport to explain how photographs work. One of the largest obstacles to be removed is the ‘compassion fatigue’ thesis…

The problem with regarding the photography of suffering as ‘pornography’


‘Development pornography’. ‘Poverty porn’. ‘Disaster porn’. ‘Ruin porn’. ‘War porn’. ‘Famine porn’. ‘Stereotype porn’. When it comes to the representation of atrocity and suffering, the charge of pornography abounds (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). What does it mean to use this term so frequently in relation to so many different situations? … Continued

How does the media persuade us to give to charities?


In “Please Give Generously” – an excellent documentary broadcast on BBC Radio 4 this weekend – Fergal Keane examined the relationship between charities and the media, in which charities want to raise their profile as well as money, the media needs stories, and both traffic in drama. Britain is home to 166,000 charities that last … Continued