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To Tell the Truth: Codes of Objectivity in Photojournalism

Communication, 13:95-109, 1992

Recent mass media scholarship has shed considerable light on journalistic objectivity as a social construct. Seminal studies by researchers like Tuchman (1978), Gans (1979), Epstein (1973), and Fishman (1980) have revealed the relationships among work routines, professional norms and values, and the institutional contexts in which newsmaking takes place. Examining news production as a social activity has helped to place objectivity within an appropriate cultural frame, allowing us to see it as a professional value and a set of communicative strategies employed by journalists. While the newsmaking routines associated with print and broadcast journalism have received significant scholarly attention, surprisingly little scrutiny has been directed towards news photography, or photojournalism.

Both history and popular lore have encouraged us to view photographs as direct, unmediated transcriptions of the real world, rather than seeing them as coded symbolic artifacts whose form and content transmit identifiable points of view. Statements of the kind made by Lady Elizabeth Eastlake, published in the London Quarterly Review for 1857, represent the enduring popular attitude towards the medium of photography:

    [Photography] is the sworn witness of everything presented to her view. What are her unerring records in the service of mechanics, engineering, geology, and natural history, but facts of the most sterling and stubborn kind?…Facts which are neither the province of art nor of description, but that of a new form of communication between man and man–neither letter, message, nor picture–which now happily fills up the space between them?

Since the introduction of photography, viewers have invested the medium with a level of authority and credibility unparalleled by other modes of communication. The iconic similarity of the photograph to its subject masks the distinction between image and reality, and obscures the significance of the picture-making process in the construction of a photographic message. Like Lady Eastlake, most contemporary viewers continue to think of the photograph as a transparent window on the world, capturing the reality in front of the camera lens.

The Absence of Color, The Presence of Imagination (Portrait)

Fotografi hitam putih (black and white photography) begitu memikat hati saya. Walaupun pada realitasnya saya tidak selalu memotret dalam hitam putih bahkan pada kenyataannya, saya lebih banyak memproduksi foto warna, namun foto hitam putih selalu mendapat tempat.
Kesederhanaan yang ditampilkan foto hitam putih begitu menarik sekaligus artistik. Foto hitam putih seakan mampu memberikan sentuhan class, timelessness, romance, dan mystery dalam sebuah foto, sekaligus.

Cheng Ho (Zheng He)

Cheng Ho dikenal sebagai pemimpin yang handal, cerdik, arif dan mahir dalam ilmu pelayaran, juga pemeluk agama Islam yang tekun. Hal tersebut menyebabkan Cheng Ho dipilih menjadi pemimpin dalam Misi Perdamaian, membuka jalur baru yang sangat diperlukan demi melancarkan perdagangan, menjalin hubungan diplomasi persahabatan, dan...

Cheng Ho dikenal sebagai pemim...

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The Denggal Dance

The Denggal dance is a special dance from Walsa tribe in Waris, part of Keerom district in Jayapura, Papua, Indonesia. This dance is performed before starting the process of making the sago flour.

The Walsa Tribe always performs The Danggal Dance accompanied by a song or the local call sanggal, the meaning is to celebrate and to communicate each other on the way to reach the celebration place.

Indonesia’s Historic Poll

Indonesia’s first ever presidential election is a massive enterprise, with more than 150 million eligible voters spread across 14,000 islands and three time zones. Presidential elections were held in Indonesia on July 5, and September 20, 2004. In the second round former security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono defeated incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Yudhoyono was inaugurated on October 20. The second round of Indonesia’s historic first direct presidential election has taken place successfully, in a general atmosphere of calm, order, and open participation. This represents a major step in the country’s ongoing democratic transition.

Photo by: Ahmad Zamroni

Vanishing forests a counterpoint to Indonesia’s climate crusade

Peatland Forest, Riau, Indonesia. Photo: Ahmad Zamroni

Photo by: Ahmad Zamroni
Text by : Aubrey Belford

KUALA CENAKU, Indonesia (AFP) – Head man Mursyid Ali stands amid blackened stumps, the remains of much of the rainforest belonging to this village on Indonesia’s Sumatra stripped and drained in spite of local protests.

Thanks largely to the burning of forests and destruction of carbon-rich peatlands, Indonesia is the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, a statistic coming under the spotlight ahead of the nation hosting a major international climate change conference next month.

The December 3-14 UN summit on the resort island of Bali will see delegates from around the world — including more than 100 ministers — thrash out a framework for negotiations on a global regime to combat climate change when the current phase of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.

Satellite images from environmental watchdog WWF show that only 25 years ago, the majority of Riau province — home to Ali’s village — was covered in equatorial forest, one of the most ecologically diverse habitats on Earth and a vital absorber of carbon.

Today, four million hectares (nearly 10 million acres), or more than 60 percent, have gone. Land clearing, both legal and illegal, has made way for tree and oil palm plantations, logging concessions and small farms.

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