Photojournalists & War: Special Panel Discussion In Rome

Jul 2, 2013
Bucciarelli carried his camera to the epicenter of the Syrian civil war in the streets of the northern city of Aleppo where residents suffered a brutal human toll from daily fighting. Photograph by Fabio Bucciarelli
Bucciarelli carried his camera to the epicenter of the Syrian civil war in the streets of the northern city of Aleppo where residents suffered a brutal human toll from daily fighting. Photograph by Fabio Bucciarelli

ROME (July 15, 2013) – Award-winning photojournalists Fabio Bucciarelli and Riccardo Venturi will headline a special panel discussion at John Cabot University on July 17, 2013, on the changing role of professional visual journalists in war and conflict. 

Bucciarelli, the 2013 winner of the prestigious Robert Capa Gold Medal Award for combat photography and Venturi, who has covered war in many countries including Afghanistan, will discuss Journalism, Social Media, and Storytelling in Conflict Scenarios: New Roles and Challenges for Today's Professional Photojournalists.

We depend on professional and ethical photojournalists to give a true and accurate picture of the back-and-forth of the world's conflicts, whether the battle is raging in Syria or Libya or Afghanistan or Iraq. But today the role of the professional war and conflict photojournalist is changing rapidly. 

Along with the impact of new technology and the evolving world of online storytelling, social media has changed the way some photojournalists do their job. In addition, the mainstream media's economic situation is having an impact on the war photographer's ability to earn a sustainable living while covering conflict.

In stories such as the Arab Spring, the civil war in Libya, the rebel uprising in Syria, and even the Boston Bombing, there has been a shift in how mainstream media outlets – newspapers and television broadcasts and Web sites – use the images created by professional photojournalists. The professionals are now in competition with pictures taken by "citizen" journalists – and sometimes they are even up against photographs that have been taken and distributed by the rebels and resistance forces themselves.

As a result, readers now often view the work of professional visual journalists displayed alongside images created by civilians, or by parties who have a vested interest in one side of the conflict or its outcome. 

The crucial role of mainstream media's editors as gatekeepers is also changing; often the pictures we see first on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter are more graphic than the photos that will be published on tomorrow's front pages. Why? Because editors fear offending the sensibilities of readers with graphic war photography. As a result, many readers wonder if the war and conflict pictures they see published in social media outlets are in some way more "truthful" or "accurate" than what they see in the newspaper or on television. And so a credibility gap is growing.

The world's most famous war photographer, Robert Capa, documented the Allied invasion of Omaha Beach on D-Day during World War II for Life magazine, and died when he stepped on a landmine in Vietnam on May 25, 1954. But Capa's name and reputation for courage live on through a prestigious annual award presented by the Overseas Press Club, which honors the most courageous conflict photography from the preceding year. 

Bucciarelli, the most recenty winner of the Capa Award, comes to John Cabot University along with Venturi to reflect on their experiences as conflict photojournalists. They will address new challenges they're facing that have been created by technology, social media, citizen journalists, and the economic crisis that is hindering global publishing and the funding of war reporting.

Bucciarelli, who most recently has been documenting the rebel uprising in Syria, is the author of a new book about Libya, The Smell Of War.

The two war photographers will be joined on the panel by Italian photojournalist and NGO director Antonio Amendola, founder of the social documentary nonprofit "Shoot 4 Change" (www.shoot4change.net), and American magazine editor and photojournalism author Donald R. Winslow, of News Photographer magazine and the National Press Photographers Association (www.nppa.org). 

Founded in Rome, "Shoot 4 Change" is a worldwide network of social documentary photographers that has evolved into a platform for citizen journalism that is not a competitor to professional photojournalists. "On the contrary, many of its members are professionals who are as committed to storytelling in crisis zones as all the other professions," founder Antonio Amendola said. "Shoot 4 Change fills the gap in the global media scenario when it gathers 'sparkles of information' from around the world."

This special evening is free of charge and open to the public. College students, photojournalists and photojournalism students, and anyone interested in how the media covers and depicts conflict and war are encouraged to attend and to ask questions and afterwards to meet the panelists. 

The program begins at 6:00 p.m. (18:00) on Wednesday, July 17, at John Cabot University, via della Lungara, 233, Rome, 00165. Telephone (+39) 06 681 9121 

This special event is sponsored by John Cabot University along with Shoot 4 Change and the National Press Photographers Association. The program is also presented with the support of the Public Affairs Office of the U.S. Embassy in Rome.

RSVP to events@johncabot.edu. For more information eMail Bianca Ferraiolo at b.ferraiolo@shoot4change.net or telephone +39 06 681 91 251.

Biographies:

Fabio Bucciarelli is a freelance documentary photojournalist based in Italy who focuses his work on conflict and the humanitarian consequences of war. He's covered war in Africa, Libya, Syria, and the Middle East. He began photojournalism with La Presse and the Associated Press in Spain, and today he frequently collaborates with Agence France-Press and various NGOs. His work routinely appears in The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and other major newspapers and magazines. He was the winner of the 2013 Robert Capa Gold Medal for courageous photography in combat. (http://www.fabiobucciarelli.com).

Riccardo Venturi has covered war in many counties, including Afghanistan, Kosovo, Somalia, Gaza, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Libya. Born in Rome, he started his journalism career documenting Italian and European social issues such as illegal immigration, the rise of Nazi movements in Germany, and the early years of democracy in Albania. He has a long-term collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) to cover the global spread of tuberculosis, and he has recently been covering Haiti’s recovery from a devastating earthquake in 2011. His photograph “Haiti Aftermath” won first place in General News for World Press Photo in 2011. Venturi’s work has been published in the worlds leading magazines and newspapers, and his photography is represented by the Contrasto agency. (http://www.riccardoventuri.com).

Antonio Amendola is a both a photojournalist (www.antonioamendola.com) and the founder and director of the Rome-based NGO "Shoot 4 Change" (www.shoot4change.net). S4C is a global nonprofit organization whose members include professional and amateur photojournalists, designers, artists, and writers from around the world who share their time participating in humanitarian reportage for NGOs and other social organizations. 

Donald R. Winslow is an American photojournalist and author who is the editor of News Photographer magazine for the National Press Photographers Association (www.nppa.org).  In his career of more than 35 years, he has worked at large U.S. newspapers such as The Milwaukee Journal, The Pittsburgh Press, and The Palm Beach Post, and was a senior photographer and editor for REUTERS covering Washington, DC, the White House, and major league sports and Olympics. Winslow teaches photojournalism in Rome at John Cabot University. He is currently writing a book about the iconic war photographer and Pulitzer Prize-winner Eddie Adams (famous for his image "Saigon Execution") for the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas in Austin, where Adams's photographic archive is housed.