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Orange County Register's Bruce Chambers Photographs Dramatic Rescue Of Katrina Victim 15 Days After Storm

Orange County Register photojournalist Bruce Chambers and reporter Keith Sharon have been traveling, sleeping, eating, and living with the California Task Force 5 Search and Rescue team of Orange County, CA, for the last two weeks as they work in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Chambers tells News Photographer the circumstances that led up to his being in the right place at the right time to make this week’s dramatic image of a New Orleans resident from his home:

By Bruce Chambers

After Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, reporter Keith Sharon worked the phones to catch a ride with our county’s swift water rescue team. That team was dispatched to New Orleans just a few days after the hurricane hit. We were denied access to them because they were flying on military transport. However, the following day we were given two hours notice to join up with Task Force 5 on a bus ride to New Orleans. I had absolutely no idea the assignment was coming and had one hour to pack and say goodbye to my family.

What followed was a 32-hour-bus ride to Dallas, TX, where FEMA directed us to the Hyatt Regency Hotel for a well-deserved night’s rest. What we didn’t know was that the stay would be a four-day delay while FEMA bureaucracy tried to get its act together and find us a slot in the FEMA rescue camp at the NFL’s New Orleans Saints training center in Metairie, LA.

The frustration of the team was thick and unbearable. Trained to rescue people, with veterans from 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing, the team was embarrassed to be housed in a four-star hotel while people went unsaved. To make matters worse, they were ordered to keep a low profile in Dallas in order to avoid any impression that they were enjoying themselves while people died. Even more frustrating, 10,000 refugees were pouring into the Reunion Arena next door to the hotel, and the team was told not to go there and help because they had to ready to move at any time. Some ignored their orders and volunteered at the arena, passing out food and spending time with people who were hurting. To make the situation even more bizarre, there was an anime convention being held in the hotel. Conventioneers, dressed as cartoon characters, mingled with the firefighters.

Finally the call came to move, and Wednesday morning the team arrived in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans. Immediately, half the team went on assignment to the northern neighborhoods, which were the most flooded in New Orleans, and waited for boats to begin a search. No boats ever came. The only thing they saved was a parakeet left by an evacuee on the raised highway while they waited. The bird became their mascot and was renamed Katrina. Again, bureaucracy slowed them down.

For the following four days the team traveled to St. Bernard Parish, about two hours southeast from central New Orleans, to search house to house, often in waist-deep water, in bayou like conditions. Resources, particularly boats, were scarce commodities. Hundreds of boats littered the streets, but the team was not allowed to confiscate them for use. Team leaders spent hours building connections with other agencies to insure collaboration with their boats and transportation in order to get the job done. In those four days of work the team, delayed and a week too late, did not discover one live victim. They marked dead body locations, entering each home and marking the homes they searched with fluorescent paint. Their final day they met a family that had stayed in place and needed food, water, and other comforts of life. They made a special run the following day with a truckload of clean water, cigarettes, food, and ice. Up to that point, that humanitarian mission was the highlight of a frustrating two weeks.

On Tuesday, September 13, the team was working its second day of searching in the Broadmoor District of New Orleans. Another bureaucratic policy change was eating at them. They had been ordered to stop forced entry into homes. They could only enter if one of their search dogs alerted on a home or if they heard noises. They found several dead bodies in the neighborhood, and a few residents who came out to meet them but remained in their homes after the team’s doctor checked their welfare.

The team completed its work and was cleaning up, decontaminating their boots and gear, when a medical aid call came in from a nearby National Guard unit. I had been documenting the work of the team’s logistics leader that day, as we had switched into the mode of writing and photographing personality profiles. The logistics chief drove a red fire department pickup, and the doctor and a paramedic jumped in the cab. Sharon and I jumped onto the tailgate and rode along for the two-mile stretch. We arrived on scene to see the National Guard treating Edgar Hollingsworth, 74, on the sidewalk outside his home at 1927 Lopez Ave.

At first I followed the doctor to the sidewalk and began photographing the doctor. (That photograph was on The Washington Post's front page the next day.) However, soon the Task Force 5 Leaders arrived and signaled us to back off. Apparently a commander of the National Guard unit was upset and yelling at his own guard unit videographer for shooting the scene and was ordering him away. A CBS News camera crew was at the end of the street arguing for access to the scene. I snuck a few frames from my camera, with a telephoto, while the camera sat on my lap, as I sat on the pickup’s tailgate across the street.

The Task Force leader asked Sharon and I to unload the truck because they weren’t sure if an ambulance was coming. We complied because we were the only ones there able to do the job. So while the Task Force 5 medics attended to Hollingsworth, we stacked logistics supplies on the sidewalk across the street. An ambulance arrived on scene. The CBS crew eventually prevailed and I went back to shooting the scene. Wanting to get the house in the background, I stepped around behind the ambulance gurney. Just as National Guard Specialist Manuel Ramos lifted Hollingsworth off the sidewalk onto the gurney I took the photograph.

After Hollingsworth was transported to the hospital we interviewed the National Guard commander and our own medic team. We returned to base and transmitted the photograph and story by cell card modem.

The guys of Task Force 5 were in a celebratory mood. After nearly two weeks of frustration they had finally been able to participate in a live rescue. Sixteen days after the hurricane hit, Edgar Hollingsworth – who was near death when discovered – was the first live rescue in New Orleans in the past two days. The team’s counterparts, the swift water rescue team, had tales of saving more than 400 people and that stuck in their guts. That day the team ordered pizza from the newly opened Dominos Pizza, smoked cigars, and played stickball in camp.

Most importantly, the team was hopeful that their rules of engagement would be changed with the evidence of this rescue. They wanted their ability to carry out forcible entry to buildings to be restored because they felt they were missing people who could not cry out or respond to their calls.

Earlier in the day another California task force had passed Hollingsworth’s home while he was inside unconscious on a couch; they knocked on the door, marked his home as cleared with fluorescent orange paint, and then moved on. Then a National Guard unit from San Diego, assigned to protect the Task Forces working in the area, passed the house. A few guardsmen peered in the window of Hollingsworth’s home and spied his foot on the couch. They broke the door down, against the rules, and found him barely alive.

After nearly two weeks, 80 members of Task Force 5, with their 11-truck convoy, were able to say they took part in rescuing one person. Their doctor, Peter Czuleger, performed a specialized IV procedure on the man, there on his sidewalk, which kept him from certain death.

Personally, I think these men and women of Task Force 5 were true heroes, in every meaning of the word, whether they saved anyone or not. They stayed disciplined and true to their mission, following orders and doing whatever they could with horrific conditions. They performed the grim task of body location and worked in neighborhoods away from the cameras, offline from the main story. They did it with a smile and were happiest when a day was a full day of backbreaking labor in the heat. I saw men go to their knees from exhaustion while breaking down doors and searching homes. I saw men who were immersed in toxic water, after falling through the floors of floating mobile homes, while desperately seeking to save victims trapped inside.

They never gave up hope and if one man was saved through it all, so be it. Hopefully in days to come they will have more success, but their work was necessary and they should be proud of their efforts. I’m proud of them and look forward to covering them in action when they return to Orange County in their regular jobs as firefighters and paramedics.

Ironically, the decision for us to leave the unit had been made the day before my photograph of Hollingsworth’s rescue was taken – in the last possible hour of our deployment with the team. God works in mysterious ways.

Chambers can be reached at [email protected].


What Happened To The Hurricane? This Is Civil Warfare And A Refugee Crisis

By Marko Georgiev

I went to shoot a storm, found myself in civil warfare, and ended up in a refugee crisis.

What happened to the storm? I kept asking myself this a few days into the assignment, which was given to me by the national desk at The New York Times, as I stand in front of these hungry and angry mobs full of people pushing and screaming, or see them begging and banging on the windows of my truck, wanting a ride out of town. “I’ll give you three bucks if you take me out of here!” I hear someone screaming as I drive away. “Please, that’s all I have …,” his voice fading behind.

Sincerely, I was trying to help! I was trying to help as much as possible. Since day one, when I ended up at the flooded Ninth Ward, just across the St. Cloud’s bridge. Water was up to the roof tops. Voices screaming “HELP!” and “OVER HERE!” in the distance, and only three flat boats with SWAT members bringing people “ashore.” I got on one boat, thinking, "Boy, this is going to be a great photo op!" Me, on the rescue boat, imagining all the shots that I’ll take.

But it wasn’t like that. I keep snapping until we reach the first survivor, an old man, hanging off the roof of his porch, screaming for help. Snapped a few shots and then helped the SWAT officer Cris Mandry get this man onto the boat. Didn’t ask for his name. The SWAT guys received a tip from some people stranded on the second floor of their house, so we went searching for an old woman, apparently alone in her house. We bang on the roof, officers yell her name, no answer. Grim silence for a second, and we move on to other houses.

People on their roofs, plastic bags with belongings in their hands. Stranded dogs on the roof of a shack, wet and sad looking. We found a man just holding onto the metal window bars. He was just standing there with water up to his chest. The police officers had to peel him off the bars. The man was in shock, no words, no sound, just an empty look in his eyes. We move onto the next house pulling people out from their windows, roofs, water everywhere. I tried to help and when I wasn’t needed I took pictures. Times-Picayune photographer Alex Brandon, who was already on the boat, was helping and photographing at the same time too. When came back to shore I wanted to drop my cameras and continue helping but there were only three boats, and I was the extra seat on the boat so much needed for those people trapped in their homes. I went to my car and filed what I'd shot.

We moved on. It's dark as we crossed back onto the bridge. There were still about 200 rescued people on the other side, but all the other streets were flooded. People were banging on the window of my truck, asking for water, a ride, crying, while others just sat silent. We stopped to talk to people. An officer came over and asked for my spare tire. He told me not to pull over here, but down the road a bit further. So I did. He said he told me that to get me out of the crowd because, “It is not safe to stop.” Later on we heard that these same 200 people, rescued but stranded on this dry median, were rioting - angry at spending the night on the street with no one to bring them to a shelter.

When we got up and started rolling the next morning, Poydras Street seemed kind of flooded. I was just there yesterday! There was no water then! But now the levies had been breeched, and the water was rising. I walked through the water to the Superdome and took a few pictures of people trying to get there, walking in water as I was. In some spots the water was chest deep. We drove to the Garden District where there are some people at a K-Mart pushing shopping carts loaded with stuff! “Let's get some water!” I said to my colleagues, New York Times reporter Joe Treaster and Times-Picayune reporter Gordon Russell (whose house I had spent the night at). We get out from the car and realize that the store was not open, but hundreds of people had stormed inside, looting. I went inside and started shooting, afraid that someone might attack me for being a witness to this event. No one seemed to care. They were busy taking items from the shelves. Clothes, alcohol, computers, televisions; some even carrying food. I saw a uniformed security person carrying some items too. He didn’t even stop to answer my questions. A man riding a bike with a rifle in his hand passed me – it was time to leave.

I went back to St. Cloud bridge where a few hundred people were standing on any dry spot they could find. Apparently they had been there since yesterday or from the moment they got rescued from their flooded homes. They were waiting for the single military truck that was taking people out of there to the Superdome. A few people already started to collapse, and soldiers were trying to pick up the old and sick first.

Next we walked through the murky water to the Superdome again. Word of an evacuation spread around. We arranged to separate and meet one hour later at the same spot for a briefing. One hour later we meet and all at once said to each other – this is the story! The Superdome had turned into Super Doom. Fights, muggings; reports of dead babies, rapes, murders. We are stunned, but we go back again. It is dark, smelly, hot, and crowded. The scenes we encountered are beyond description. A handful of military soldiers tried to deal with angry crowds. It was near-riot situation. We walked out and went to file. Later on the same day they started to evacuate people from that miserable place to what became another miserable place – the Convention Center.

In the next few days it all went down. I tried to stay unbiased and to shoot and cover the story the best way possible. I also tried to help as many people as I could. I met a woman, barefoot, on the street at 6 a.m., needing a ride to her nephew’s house. So I picked her up, realizing that the place she wanted to go to is flooded. I asked a policeman on the street what to do and told me to take her to the Convention Center. What luck. She might have been better off on the street. I snapped a few frames while she was walking away to the Center.

One of my fellow photojournalists asked me to check on his wife and daughter, stuck in a hotel on Canal Street. I didn’t know them but had their names. I got there late and they had already started kicking people out of all the hotels. They had left 15 minutes earlier. Fearing for their safety at that damned Convention Center, I went driving down the street in a scene that looked like pictures of the evacuation of Saigon, yelling their names in vain to every person I saw. No answer, but empty looks from faces who wished that it was their names I was calling out. I felt like shit.

I stopped to shoot an unattended fire raging in a building off Canal Street. Along came a group of three old people pushing some sort of makeshift stroller. One of the old ladies must have been around 90, half lying on the stroller, half dragging her feet, supported by an old man, William P. Davis. She was too weak to speak, urinating on herself. She was about to die. I could see it in her eyes. This lady walked the earth for nearly a century and she was going to die like a stray dog in her own excrement. I begged the cop who was standing there monitoring the fire to take her somewhere safe. After much pleading he finally got a car and took her to Jefferson Parish hospital.

We drove by the Convention Center where there were no cops, no military, and no promised evacuation buses. Only thousands of people. Hungry, tired people. Looting cars, rioting, running from one place to another. No place for my big truck to be with enough gas for a 100 mile trip. Not if we wanted to stay and tell the world what is happening down here.

On the way back to Gordon’s house we saw cop cars and officers with raised guns and a body that was covered in blood. I raised my camera, shot a few frames, and the next thing I knew I found myself thrown down and slammed onto the car, hands up in the air and a gun pointed in the back of my head. Camera ripped off my hand, while the car is franticly searched for weapons. They let us go and I realized too late that one of my CF cards is missing.

Later that day I went back to the Center, trying to shoot more bodies. I found one in the storage area by the kitchen. A small group of refugees and I were trying to find a body of a dead baby stomped to death, and a teenage girl raped and throat slashed, apparently stashed in one of the kitchen fridges. We searched fridge by fridge. We hear voices of some thugs screaming and threatening us, coming our way. It was time to go.

The days went by, the same images everyday. One big blur of desperate faces. I kept pinching myself to make sure that I was actually in America and not in Darfur, Mogadishu, or Kosovo. I kept shooting and trying to help. When the last person from the Center got evacuated, I left too. I left for my dry and air conditioned apartment while other colleagues and reporters are still there. We came to take our trophies and left. They have to stay. No place to go. This story will become their lives. Or is it the other way around?

Marko Georgiev is a freelance photojournalist from New Jersey who frequently shoots for The New York Times.


2006 NPPA-Nikon Documentary Sabbatical Grant Goes "Digital" With Entry Rule Changes

LOUISVILLE, KY  – “The NPPA-Nikon Documentary Sabbatical Grant for 2006 still has the theme ‘The Changing Face of America,’ but now we have new rules for entering the contest,” grant administrator Bill Luster announced today.

“All photographs entered as a portfolio or as an example of work done on the actual sabbatical proposal must be entered in digital format. There’s no need to send photographic prints, slide duplicates, copied prints, or books. The only written material one should send is the entry blank and the entry proposal (available online at”

Luster says these are the new entry rules: “You may enter in your portfolio up to 40 images. Please send only .JPG images that are up to 10 inches wide plus the depth, or 10 inches deep plus the width, at 200 DPI. Please send at ‘Image Quality 6’ (or ‘High’) .JPG compression.

“Please place all the images on a CD-ROM. Sequence the images in the order that you want them to be viewed by naming the pictures 01.jpg through 40.jpg.

“Captions must be included for ALL images (in the image file’s ‘File Info” field, as well as printed out on a sheet of paper). In addition the entry must also include a portrait of yourself. (Your biography photograph does not count as one of the 40 images.)”

The deadline for entering is December 28, 2005. A completed entry should include:

  • An entry blank;
  • A written proposal;
  • A CD-ROM with the images, maximum of 40 in an sequence, plus a biographic portrait of the photographer;
  • Captions for all the images (printed out on a sheet of paper, plus in the images’ “File Info” field).

NPPA-Nikon Documentary Sabbatical Grant 2006 entries should be sent to:

Bill Luster
3613 Sorrento Avenue
Louisville, KY 4024

For more information contact Luster at [email protected]


Photojournalists Covering Katrina Fall Victim To Growing Violence, Chaos

By Donald R. Winslow, News Photographer magazine

AUSTIN, TX – As photojournalists continue to document the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina’s violent assault on the Gulf Coast, today they also found themselves documenting new violence and death among the survivors, the refugees, and the looters and police and rescuers in New Orleans, while some photojournalists even fell victim to the violence themselves. And a reporter for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans is still missing and has not been heard from since last weekend when he was sent to Mississippi to cover the storm. (He's since been found.)

Two veteran photojournalists - NPPA member Rick Wilking of Reuters and Getty's MarkWilson - were robbed of cameras and computer equipment today while on assignment in a neighborhood in New Orleans, and a photojournalist and a reporter were confronted at gunpoint and slammed against a wall by police following a shoot-out between looters and cops that left at least one person dead.

Another photojournalist -Lucas Oleniuk of theToronto Star - was knocked to the ground by police, his gear taken from him initially, when he photographed them shooting at looters and then beating one. In response to the growing violence and an increasing sense of despair among the stranded survivors, some television networks have hired armed private security firms to protect their journalists as they work to cover the story.

Peter Kovacs, managing editor of The Times-Picayune, says reporterLeslie Williams, who was assigned to cover the hurricane on the Mississippi coast, is still missing. No one at the newspaper has heard from Williams since last weekend. Kovacs posted a note to Poynter’s JimRomenesko saying, “He's an extraordinarly cautious guy and he's covered a lot of hurricanes. So I'm thinking positive thoughts even though I haven't heard anything. I keep thinking he's okay." By Friday, the newspaper learned that the reporter's mother is also missing. Kovacs said they have assigned a reporter in Mississippi to search for Williams. (He's since been found.)

The environment journalists are working in has shifted from one of a post-storm rescue and recovery to one that’s more akin to urban warfare. Tonight’s news reports a desperate situation in New Orleans that is spiraling out of control, with fighting breaking out among the hurricane survivors, more looting and gunfire, reports of anarchy in many areas, and more bodies floating in the waterways and in the debris. Today there were reports of rapes taking place in and around the Superdome while outside the Convention Center bodies litter the sidewalks. More dead have been dragged to the corners of the building, the Associated Press reports, as there are no resources to deal with picking up the dead. Amidst this chaos and growing tension, photojournalists find themselves working in a growingly hostile environment where they are less welcome today than yesterday.

Toronto Star staff photojournalist Lucas Oleniuk was taken to the ground by police in the Spanish Quarter after he photographed a firefight between looters and police, and police were then reportedly “beating on” a looter. A coworker at the Toronto Star toldNews Photographer magazine tonight, “The cops saw him and put him down, and took his gear. At first they were going to take all of his cameras, but he talked them into only taking the memory cards and letting him keep the cameras.” Oleniuk’s coworker says the photojournalist, who was not injured in the incident, went to New Orleans the day after the hurricane hit.

New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter Gordon Russell wrote on Thursday afternoon that “the city is not safe for anyone.” Russell and freelance photojournalist Marko Georgiev – who was shooting for The New York Times – were in the Lower Garden District in an SUV, Russell says, where he “feared for my life and felt our safety was threatened at nearly every turn.” Russell says throngs of hungry and desperate people overwhelmed the few military and law enforcement people on the scene at the Superdome and Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, and “there was no crowd control. People were swarming. It was a near riot situation.”

Georgiev says, “We came upon a body (while driving) apparently shot by the police. While I was still driving I took a few photos through the open window and I heard an officer yell, ‘Get that camera, now!’ About a half dozen cops started running toward the car. Since the car was still in motion, and I saw them drawing and raising their guns at us and afraid they would shoot us, I slammed on the brakes.

“Before I knew it, I was thrown out of the car, the camera ripped from my hand, the other camera taken from the car, and I was on the car with my legs spread, hands up, a gun pointed in my neck. I was unable to see what was going on with Gordon. I was screaming “We are press” and I saw things from my car thrown on the ground, and the car was being frantically searched by the police.”

Georgiev told News Photographer, “As soon as they confirmed that we were accredited press they mellowed down a bit and gave my cameras back, they threw Gordon’s notebook on the ground and ordered us to get lost. After quickly picking up our stuff and getting in the car we drove away, then I realized the CF memory card from my other camera was missing – but not the one with the picture of the dead body.”

The Times-Picayune’s online blog later quoted Russell’s description of the scene as being one that was “the result of gunfire between police and civilians that left one man dead in a pool of blood.” Russell wrote that he and Georgiev “retreated to my home where we hid, and plan to flee the city tonight.” Russell was quoted in the blog as telling the newspaper, “There is a totally different feeling here than there was yesterday. I’m scared. I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m getting out of here.”

“I was afraid that we were going to get shot by some nervous police officer,” Georgiev said. “And that night in front of Gordon’s house (in New Orleans), were were rounded up by police and handcuffed while trying to file pictures from our cars."

Reuters and Getty Images confirm tonight that Reuters photojournalist Rick Wilking and Getty Images photojournalist MarkWilson had cameras and laptop computers stolen from a car they were using as they got out of the vehicle to photograph rescue efforts in a New Orleans neighborhood. Michael D. Sargent, vice president of news for Getty, said the two were not harmed and that they are safe tonight, but that their gear is gone. A Reuters picture editor in Washington said the trouble apparently started when the two photographers got out of their car with cameras and were seen, and then targeted, by a neighborhood crowd.

Pictures from earlier in the day by Wilking before he was robbed show people outside the Convention Center trying to revive an elderly woman who has collapsed, and a man holding a tiny baby in his arms as he covers with a sheet the dead body of an elderly man who is sitting in a chair, reportedly left there for two days now, as thousands of survivors stand by waiting for evacuation buses. Yesterday, Wilking’s photographs showed a dead woman sitting in her wheelchair outside her home in East New Orleans where her family had left her after the storm.

Many of today’s pictures from New Orleans show refugees dealing with a growing sense of despair as relief efforts failed to materialize in many areas and evacuation efforts were halted due to violence. A picture by photojournalist Michael Ainsworth of the Dallas Morning News of people shoving in a crush as they lined up to board an evacuation bus ran huge, six columns across and deep, on Friday's Dallas Morning News front page. At The Advocate in Baton Rouge, LA, the front page was dominated by a picture shot by photojournalist Richard Alan Hannon of storm refugees holding a woman and praying over her "as her life ebbed away" on the sidewalk outside the Superdome where refugees waited for food, water, and evacuation.

NBC News has reportedly hired a private security firm whose officers are former soldiers or police, and who are licensed to carry weapons and trained to protect news crews as they do their jobs, to protect their staff members in the Gulf Coast region as they report the hurricane aftermath story. The move was prompted by what the news crews were witnessing: looting, gunfire, crimes, and gun-totting gangs moving freely about the streets. NBC News vice president David Verdi in New York told Paul J. Gough of The Hollywood Reporter, “We’ve never been in a situation domestically like this, where the populace has been cut off from the rest of the world and there’s no food and water.”

The Times-Picayune is still out of their building and some staff members are working from a remote location at the journalism school atLouisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. CNN and WWL-TV have also based some operations out of LSU, as well as one of KHOU-TV’s satellite trucks.

The Times-Picayune tonight hopes to put out their first print edition since the hurricane hit, using the presses at the Houma Courier and delivering the newspaper wherever they can reach. They’ve published daily on the Internet and made downloadable Acrobat .PDF files of the newspaper and posted them on their Web site.

At the Biloxi Sun-Herald there’s still no electricity and no plumbing. They’ve dug trenches outside the building to use as latrines, and several recreational vehicles have been parked in the paper’s parking lot. The newspaper is still awaiting the arrival of a fuel truck to keep their generators going and they’ve increased security at the site. Today they printed and distributed a 24-page, two-section paper to 20,000 readers. They have now been able to make contact with up to 70 percent of Sun-Herald employees, and half of those reached report that their homes have been destroyed. Sun-Herald columnist Jeanne Prescott lost her sister and brother-in-law to the storm, Knight Ridder reports.

Read yesterday's story about photojournalists covering Hurricane Katrina's aftermath and the efforts newspapers and television stations are making to cover and publish the news.


Fund Established To Help Bob Brandon

While television photojournalist Bob Brandon underwent surgery in a Denver, CO, hospital yesterday to improve his ability to breathe, friends and coworkers established a fund to help his family with any costs they accumulate during his extended illness.

Brandon, known as one of the leading television photojournalists in the broadcast industry who was twice named the NPPA Television News Photographer of the Year, has been in stable but critical condition in a Denver trauma hospital after he was found on the floor of his home August 23. Friends say he may have collapsed there several days before he was discovered.

Sharon Levy Freed reports via eMail yesterday after the surgery that "Bob is still really sick, but there is now reason for hope.”

The fund has been created in Brandon’s daughter’s name and friends and supporters are encouraged participate in this effort to help the family. Freed asks that checks be made payable to: “Kristi Brandon fbo Robert Brandon” and mailed to Heritage Bank, 811 South Public Road, Lafayette, CO, 80026, addressed to the attention of Debbie Boucher.

Brandon was NPPA’s Television News Photographer of the Year in 1976 and again in 1980 while he was with KPRC-TV in Houston, TX. He's a co-recipient of a national Emmy for his work on CBS's 48 Hours as well as having two national Emmy nominations. His work includes stories for CBS News, 60 Minutes, NBC News, The Today Show, Dateline, ABC Evening News, Prime Time Live, and 20/20. He is also a faculty member for the annual NPPA Television NewsVideo Workshop, and was president of Helical Post, a video digital post-production facility in Denver.


Many New Orleans TV Photojournalists Fear Losing Their Jobs Because Of Hurricane Katrina

As if the hardship of enduring HurricaneKatrina and then covering the almost-unbelievable devastation in the storm's aftermath wasn't enough, many television photojournalists in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast are learning that shortly they could also be out of a job.

Corporate television owners are apparently trying to determine if there's going to be anyone doing business in New Orleans in the near future who will buy television advertising. If not, without advertising revenue the corporations will have to foot the entire cost of operating a television station in the devastated market - a tremendous expense that could pull down revenues from their other markets, a cost that most owners are probably going to be unwilling to bear.

Photojournalists at WWL-TVChannel 4, the New Orleans CBS affiliate, were hearing talk early in the week about their jobs possibly ending because theBeloCorporation, owners of the station, was going to "evaluate the situation" in 60 days, and decide whether or not there would be a news operation at all or a "significantly scaled back" news division. Today CareyHendrickson, Belo's vice president for investor relations and corporate communications, toldNews Photographer, "Belo is committed to WWL and its presence in New Orleans. WWL has a tremendous legacy and we are going to do everything we can to restore normal operations. Originally, we told employees that we hoped to have more information about future operations by November 1; now, we believe we are in a holding pattern for approximately six months."

Carey also shared a press release from Belo that says: "To assist its employees at WWL and NewsWatch on Channel 15 who have been severely impacted personally by Hurricane Katrina, Belo Corp. and The Belo Foundation have established the WWL-TV Employee Relief Fund. Belo Corp. has committed $200,000 to the fund initially and will also match dollar-for-dollar the contributions of employees at Belo companies. The general public and business partners are also invited to make contributions to the relief fund. Donations are tax-deductible. Cash or check donations made out to the WWL-TV Employee Relief Fund may be made in person at The Belo Foundation, located in Suite 200 of The Belo Building in Dallas, and checks may also be mailed in care of The Belo Foundation at P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, TX, 75265-5237, with questions answered at +1.214.977.6661. The Relief Fund made an initial tax-free distribution of $1,000 to every WWL employee to meet his or her immediate needs."

A television source from New Orleans told NewsPhotographer magazine that at WVUE-TV Fox 8, a station owned by Emmis Television, employees were no longer working. The station had reportedly been for sale in mid-August before the storm when Emmis announced it had sold nine of its 16 television stations. A message posted on this week said that WVUE-TV employees were "given $100.00 and sent packing."

A spokesperson for Emmis Television today said "that's not true." Kate Snedeker, director of media and investor relations for Emmis, said, "All employees have jobs. We've made a commitment to employees and we're going to stand by it. The very first message that went last week from Randy Bongarten (president of Emmis Television) made it clear." Snedeker said Emmis has created a secure employee-only Web site for WVUE-TV workers where they can log in and get up-to-date information. That site is at and if you're an empolyee and don't have a user name and password, you can get one by calling +1.866.366.4747.

Leonel Mendezhas been a photojournalist at WVUE-TV and his wife, Meredith, has been a reporter for WGNO-TV. Over the weekend he posted this note on the message board:

"We lost everything, including our home, in New Orleans. If anyone knows of any jobs out there... I would appreciate a heads up. I'm open to anything but we do have family in the Washington, DC, area which would make relocation there very easy." The couple left New Orleans and traveled to Meredith's father's house in Memphis, TN, he said, as they search for jobs. Mendez wrote, "Thanks to anyone who can help us with this tragedy. My eMail is [email protected] if you have any leads on reporting or anchoring jobs."

Today in an update to his posting Mendez, in Memphis, told NewsPhotographer, "I have some great opportunites right now. I'm going on a job interview next Wednesday, and everyone's just been great. I've got a lot of eMails and phone calls. In the meantime, we're still getting paid by the station but everyone's worried about what's going to happen to the station. We're not even allowed back in the station because of the water. Some people got to come home this week to take care of their families, my wife's home right now, she's been working out of WBRC in Baton Rouge where her station moved their operations."

"If we don't get jobs, she'll be going back to work at WGNO-TV," he said, "and right now we're pretty worried about the future. Our house was 8 to 10 blocks from where the levy broke, so we're pretty sure the house is up to the roof line with water. Since I'm not working, I've been sitting here looking at these pictures, I have time to look and to take it in. Everyone's been touched, everyone's touched."

Television photojournalist DavidSussman, chief photographer for WGNO-TV Channel 26 in New Orleans, and his wife Diane, their children and their parents, are glad to be alive and to have survived Hurricane Katrina. WGNO-TV is owned byTribuneBroadcasting. While rumors swirl on message boards and in online forums that Tribune may shut down operations in 90 days if there's no advertising revenue, Sussman left a telephone message forNewsPhotographermagazine Monday saying that this isn't exactly the case, and that Tribune continues to stand by WGNO-TV.

The station's other news photographers are still working covering the hurricane's aftermath, and WGNO-TV continues to broadcast today fromWBRZ-TVin Baton Rouge.

Sussman was born and raised in New Orleans and worked in Mobile, AL, and Nashville, TN, before "coming home" to New Orleans in 1996 to be closer to his parents, his wife Diane said. His parents' home, blocks from Lake Pontchartrain, was washed away and they were evacuated to Alexandria, LA. Sussman's wife and their children, along with Diane's mother, fled the flooding and urban anarchy and went to St. Louis, MO. The Sussman's house was spared, and Diane's mother's house was spared – "for now, as long as it's not looted or burned down," she said Sunday.

But many television newsroom employees in New Orleans who are in situations similar to Sussman's have put the word out on the grapevine, and in postings on the online discussion boards, that they're looking for new jobs and for new places to live. Encouragingly, many in the television news community have responded by posting messages online about job openings they've seen or heard about, or stations where there may soon be new opportunities.




Missing Times-Picayune Hurricane Reporter Found

Missing reporter Leslie Williams has been heard from, his editor at The Times-Picayune reported to The New York Observer last night.

The Observer quotes editor Jim Amoss as saying, "This is the best news I've heard in days. He was covering the story from Mississippi under hellacious conditions. He was on assignment and we're just now hearing from him, we haven't had a chance to debrief him yet."

No one at the newspaper had heard from Williams since last weekend when he was sent to Mississippi to cover the storm from the eastern region in the oncoming hurricane's path. At one point this last week, Williams' mother was also reported missing. There was no information from Amoss about the reporter's mother. The newspaper had dispatched another reporter to search for Williams when they had not heard from him by the middle of the week.


Gardi, Lewis, And Weidenhoefer Each Win $20K Getty Images Editorial Photography Grants

Getty Images today announced from Visa Pour L’ Image in Perpignan, France, the three new winners of its 2005 Grants for Editorial Photography. They are Balazs Gardi of Budapest, for an examination of the European Gypsy; New Jersey resident Scott Lewis for his work focusing on spiritual and secular rituals in American communities of faith; and Kai Weidenhoefer of Berlin for his journey into the repercussions that may result from the erection of a 650-kolmeter wall in Israel, one that is intended to separate Israelis from Palestinians. Each winner will receive a $20,000 grant along with project support from Getty Images’ team of photo editors.

Getty said the three winning grants were selected from applications from 37 countries, a 40 percent increase in the number of nations represented when grants were awarded earlier this year. Final judging for these winners was done in August by Maura Foley, a picture editor for The New York Times; Reza, an award-winning photojournalist from the Webistan Agency in France; and Harald Menk, the foreign photo editor for Stern magazine in Germany.

In the announcement, Reza commented on the submissions entered for consideration: “Almost all of the proposals and images revealed highly-professional and motivated participants. It indicated to me that we are entereing a new era of photojournalism and documentary photograph – more in-depth, more sensitive, more engaged. Also impressive was the deep sense of humanity exhibited in most of the submissions.”

Getty Images awards five $20,000 grants annually, totaling $100,000, to fund work by established and rising photojournalists.  Applicants must submit a written proposal and portfolio. Grant winners are given the opportunity to sign a one-year exclusive rights deal with Getty whereby their work will be marketed and available for liscense to customers worldwide through Getty’s Web site.

For the upcoming 2006 Getty grants, the judging panel will include photojournalist David Burnett, co-founder of Contact Press Images;Giovanna Calvenzi, director of photography for Sportweek; Elaine Laffont, editorial director for Hachette Filipacchi Media; Natasha Lunn, a photography editor for The New Yorker magazine; and Susan A. Smith, deputy director of photography and illustrations for National Geographic magzine.

More information on the upcoming grants is available online here.


NPPA Calls For Release Of Journalists Held In Iraq Without Charges, Details In Shooting Death Of Soundman

DURHAM, NC – The National Press Photographers Association joins with the Committee To Protect Journalists, the Reuters News Agency and other media and press freedom organizations in urging the United States military to explain immediately why it is holding in custody Iraqi photojournalist Ali Omar Abrahem al-Mashhadani, a freelance photojournalist who works for Reuters, and to provide full details surrounding the shooting of Reuters journalists Haider Kadhem, 24, and soundman Waleed Khaled, 35, who died from his wounds.

Haider KadhemJust this morning the U.S. military released Haider Kadhem after he was held by American troops in a secret location for three days following the shooting that killed Khaled. The military said he was being questioned about "inconsistencies" in his statements after he was taken from the car in which Khaled died. Kadhem suffered wounds from flying fragments, they said.

Khaled was buried on Monday. He was shot several times in the chest and at least once in the head while driving his car, an ordinary passenger vehicle, on assignment to a reported clash between armed men and police in Western Baghdad on August 28. Khaled was the fourth Reuters journalist killed in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003. Two are known to have been killed by American fire.

Reuters photojournalist al-Mashhadani is still being held more than two weeks after his arrest. Reuters reports today that a “secret tribunal” has ordered him held, without charges, in Baghdad’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison for up to 6 months when his case may be reviewed again.

Reuters quotes a military spokesperson who said the tribunal decided that the photojournalist is, in their opinion, "a threat to the people of Iraq." Reuters says the military will not tell them why the photojournalist is being held and has refused all requests to detail their suspicions about Mashhadani, or to make any specific accusations. The military response to a demand for his release is that he’s “a security detainee with links to insurgents.”

“Reuters is extremely concerned by this development and is calling for the U.S. military to release al-Mashhadani or to publicly air their case against him,” Stephen Naru, the global head of media relations for Reuters, told NPPA this morning.

Additionally, the U.S. military has confirmed that five journalists for major news organizations are now in detention, including al-Mashhadani and another freelance photojournalist who works for Reuters, as well as a CBS cameraman.

Reuters journalist al-Mashhadani was arrested by U.S. troops on August 8 after a search of his Ramadi, Iraq, home; the military has refused to say why he is being held and there are no charges against him. His brother was detained with him and then released, and he says al-Mashhadani was arrested after they looked at images on his cameras.

Waleed Khaled shot and killed“I am shocked and appalled that such a decision could be taken without his having access to legal counsel of his choosing, his family, or his employers,” Reuters global managing editor David Schlesinger said after today’s developments. “I call on the authorities to release him immediately or publicly air the case against him and give him the opportunity to defend himself.”

“We’re extremely concerned when someone like al-Mashhadani, an accredited photojournalist working for a global news agency, can be held incommunicado since his arrest many days ago and simply held without any explanation,” NPPA president Alicia Wagner Calzada said today. NPPA, founded in 1946 and based in Durham, NC, is an organization of nearly 10,000 photojournalists that is dedicated to the advancement of photojournalism and to insuring that journalists’ rights, granted under the First Amendment, are upheld.

“Also of grave concern to us are reports from his family that Marines arrested him after finding video and still images during a routine sweep of his neighborhood,” Calzada said. “Reuters says they have provided U.S. officials with samples of Mashhadani's published work to help establish that the video and still images on his cameras and computers that were found during the search were gathered in the course of his employment. We are disturbed by the appearance that the U.S. military is engaged in summarily arresting journalists in Iraq for simply being journalists, and that a photojournalist would be considered a threat for merely possessing newsworthy images.

“The U.S. government would do well to remember that a true democracy in Iraq cannot flourish without a free press,” said Calzada. “We are not asking that journalists receive special treatment, only that they aren’t targeted as a result of their work.”

Many Iraqi journalists have worked as freelancers for international news agencies covering the war in Iraq, and they have found it possible to cover stories in places that are inaccessible to most foreign journalists or just too dangerous for non-Arabs. The Associated Press won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography for their coverage of the Iraqi war by a team of photographers made up mostly of Iraqi photojournalists. Iraqi photojournalist Khalid Mohammed shot the AP’s landmark image of Iraqis chanting anti-American slogans while the charred bodies of four U.S. contractors were hanged from a bridge over the Euphrates River in Fallujah in March, 2004.

“This action (the detention of Mashhadani) and others like it may indeed have a chilling effect on the coverage of the war,” Calzada said, “if Iraqi journalists are now being targeted and detained by U.S. troops, and even shot.”

The military is still investigating the arrest and detention last year of four Iraqi journalists, including three working for Reuters and one working for NBC. According to Reuters, the four reported that they were sexually and physically abused by U.S. soldiers for three days before being released. Last November, two other photojournalists working for Reuters were killed by U.S. forces along with another photographer, also based in Ramadi, during fighting between Marines and insurgents. There’s also a report that eight Iraqi journalists, including some working for CBS and Agence France-Presse, were detained in May by the military without any further explanation.

“It is more than ironic that the same troops who are fighting and dying so that the Iraqi people can have a democratic form of government, complete with its own constitution, infringe on the basic First Amendment and due process rights under the catch-all phrase that these journalists posed a ‘security risk to the Iraqi people and coalition forces,’” Calzada said.


2005 Women In Photojournalism Conference Inspired, Rekindled Careers, With Speakers And Workshops

The 2005 NPPA Women In Photojournalism Conference opened Friday in Phoenix, AZ, and ran through Sunday August 28 and featured a dynamic line-up of workshops and speakers that inspired photojournalists and rekindled a passion and committment to the craft.

Speakers included Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Deanne Fitzmaurice of the San Francisco Chronicle; Peggy Peattie of the San Diego Union-Tribune; Andrea BruceWoodall of The Washington Post; and freelance photojournalist Amy Toensing.

Also speaking were photojournalist Maggie Steber; Mary Vignoles of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel; Angie Kucharski of KCNC-TV in Denver; Christina Pino-Marina of; Jennifer Castor of KMGH-TV in Denver; Kristen Bergeron of KTVT-TV in Fort Worth; and Lynn French of KPNX-TV in Phoenix.

More than 400 images were entered in this year's WIPC photography contest and the winners were presented during a special gallery exhibition on Saturday at the nearby Victoria Boyce Galleries in Scottsdale, AZ.

Erin Trieb of Dallas, TX, won Best Overall in the photography contest and she was presented with her winning check by conference chairperson Pat Holloway.

For more information see the conference Web page or contact local conference coordinators Lynn French, Catherine Jun, or Heidi Huber.