Is social media threatening tabloid photojournalism?

February 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

from the blog

Is social media threatening tabloid photojournalism?

May 24th, 2007 by Wendy McAuliffe

The BBC’s ‘A Tabloid is Born’ focused last night on Alfred Harmsworth’s Daily Mail.

The word “tabloid” was invented by Harmsworth, the trademark name of a pill, to describe something highly condensed and easily swallowed. A description that many would still argue is still applicable to the tabloids we know today – but is it?

A chunk of the programme focused on the importance of photojournalism in tabloid history. The example was cited of the Mirror publishing a photograph of King Edward VII on his deathbed, which sold two million copies of the paper that day. No complaint came from the Palace because Queen Alexandra consented to the picture being published on the basis that the Daily Mirror was her favourite paper. The example highlighted the level of impact a still photo can have on a nation, and consequently newspaper readership.

Within the programme Piers Morgan also referenced the photographs of Princess Diana’s death which he was offered at 5am on the morning of her death, but declined. He claims he advised the paparazzi responsible to withdraw the photos and leave the country, which he reportedly did.

This got me thinking – would either of these incidents have happened today in the world of social media?

Arguably the photo of Kind Edward VII would have circulated on the Internet before any newspaper could get hold of it, and without doubt the video of Princess Diana’s death would have leaked onto YouTube within minutes. The recent Virginia Tech shootings were a prime example of how quickly high-impact photographic footage can spread through social media networks.

It seems a shame to me that we may be losing our nation’s photojournalism roots. A three minute video on YouTube is undeniably a great source of news information, but equally I wouldn’t want to say goodbye to those great front page photo exclusives.


I have started to look into how photojournalism and social media can find the balance, when one one hand having social media and everyone capturring photos and posting on news events, it comes in very handy being able to share news with the world in seconds but this all has a knock on effect because those hudreds of images are replacing where once would of been a photojournalists job to quickly get to the event and snap the high quality images.


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