Photojournalism, the risky business of capturing images of war and other historic events, is under financial pressure like other aspects of journalism. Some photographers were encouraged when billionaire Bill Gates put himself in the picture in the 1990s, but that has not developed as some had hoped, reports Military Reporters & Editors Vice President Don North.
By Don North
When Microsoft founder Bill Gates bought the once-mighty French photo agency Sygma in 1999, there was hope that his vast financial resources and renowned business skills could rescue not only Sygma but the profession of photojournalism.
Photojournalists still had the hunger to capture on film the stark realities of war, but this dangerous task was increasingly compensated at shockingly low rates for the intrepid photographers whose skills at working a camera must be matched by their personal bravery.
Just last April, two more top combat photographers joined the ranks of those who died for their work. Tim Heatherington, 40, an Academy Award nominee for his Afghan film “Restrepo,” and Chris Hondos, 41, of Getty Images were killed in Libya while traveling with advancing rebel forces in the city of Misrata. They died in a hail of mortar fire.
Yet, for taking these risks – and giving the world a close-up look at the triumphs and tragedies of recent history – many photojournalists get paid barely enough to get by. One veteran French photojournalist recently reported earning 70 euros (about $100) for three weeks work in Libya.
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