Photo Journal: The Commercial Appeal

By Jim Colton

At the heart of every good newspaper you will find strong photographers and good visual display…but dig a little deeper and you’ll also find someone with vision. At the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, that someone is John Sale. A nine-year veteran at the Appeal, the Assistant Managing Editor for Visuals has been leading the charge with his team of photographers, freelancers and editors as the paper garners an abundant share of awards in the industry.

John Sale, Visual Editor, The Commercial Appeal

During a recent interview, I gained a deeper understanding of the photo operations of this Memphis Belle as they balance their coverage of local, national and global events with “connectivity” as their keyword. How does the Appeal stay connected to their readers? How have technology and multiple publishing platforms changed how the Appeal delivers its content?

This week, in a two-part Photo Journal, Sale takes on these questions in part one, as well as delivering a very candid and succinct analysis of each of the eight staff photographers featured in the image gallery (see captions for Sale's comments).

Alan SpearmanIn part two, we examine the very fine mind of Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and photojournalist Alan Spearman. When this column was initiated, Spearman was one of those eight staff photographers at the Appeal. He has since resigned his position and has moved on to further explore one of his true passions...telling stories…through the use of video as a medium.

Spearman, and the Appeal, recently won Best Use of Multimedia at the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism competition for his work “Memphis Poverty: What Obama Didn’t See.” We talk with Spearman about the project as well as highlight images from that story in our gallery. We’ll also get Spearman’s spin on the difference between shooting for print and multimedia and the different mindset needed to tell those stories well.

Part One: An Interview with John Sale

Part Two: An interview with Alan Spearman