On May 14, 2012, the NPPA submitted a letter to the US Copyright Office on behalf of its members and non-members in response to proposed fee increases for copyright registration. The letter includes a statement that reads “Photojournalism is and has been an integral part of our democracy (p. 14, NPPA letter to US Copyright Office).” In a time where citizen journalism, as well as free, manipulated and pirated images, saturates media content, it is more important than ever to remind everyone that the field of professional photojournalism acts as a steward of genuine democracy.
VOICE = DEMOCRACY
PHOTOGRAPHS = VOICE
Democracy, a form of government that shapes public policy as voiced by the people, critically relies on journalistic and documentary photographs to inform these voices.
Donna Ferrato, a self-proclaimed “activist photographer,” is among the purist examples of how photographs inform social awareness and how that translates into legislative and personal change. Donna has “worked with the U.S. Army, the Bolivian and Peruvian governments, the American Medical Association, and many other groups to educate their core constituents about how to live free of violence.” Donna’s most recent project, “I Am Unbeatable,” is about empowering by example as seen through the images of victims who have ended the lineage of domestic abuse to give themselves and their children a fresh, violent-free version of life.
Donna Ferrato, 1992: “I used that opportunity to meet with Clinton — such an inspiring and powerful woman — to discuss the issues of domestic violence. What she advised me then has taken twenty years to digest. She said, that while we can change the laws and try to provide protection from abusers, significant change will only really occur if the women themselves take responsibility to break free of their violent lives.”
It was discovered long ago that confession, or storytelling, or sharing is a necessary action for humans to process events in their lives and grow. Likewise, it is equally essential to hear these confessionals and stories and shares in order to construct our worldviews, our conscience and ideologies.
Photojournalism seeks to hear and tell the truth. It is essential to preserve the integrity of these truths by ensuring that photojournalism is a sustainable undertaking with support from Congress, media outlets and the people.