War Stories by Mark Pedelty Book Review

Journalism plays a pivotal role in war. During the Vietnam War, the American public became disillusioned with the war after foreign correspondents exposed the human rights violations and human cost of the war through reporting and photojournalism. As a result, war grown into a battle of public relations due to the influence of public opinion by war reporting. The war in El Salvador lasted about 12 years, and the government sought to control the flow of information from foreign correspondents in El Salvador through a system of salvoconducto (safe conduct) that prevented journalists from entering into areas the government deemed “unsafe.” This was one of the many obstacles that foreign correspondents in El Salvador faced as they tried to report the truth as accurately as possible. In War Stories, Mark Pedelty, an anthropologist, studied the practices and methods of foreign correspondents in El Salvador and provided a critical commentary on the shortcomings of the reporting done in El Salvador during the war.

Somewhat ironically Mark Pedelty comes to very many definitive conclusions throughout the book. Pedelty is an anthropologist, but as an anthropologist, one is suppose to observe without judgement. He often labeled or categorized different aspects of the culture of foreign correspondents throughout the book which prevents the readers from drawing their own conclusions from his observations. Instead Pedelty asserts this is what happened. This is what it means. Also this is somewhat ironic because the American journalists that he is studying draw no conclusions in their stories in order to remain objective, one of the prevalent guiding goals of American journalism.  Continue reading →

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Alachua Fall Harvest Festival

I was very nervous walking into my first photojournalism project. My photography skills are something that I am particularly self-conscious about, but the techniques that I have learned in visual journalism gave me the proper mindset while doing this project.

I choose to cover the Alachua Fall Festival because it gave many local artists the opportunity to showcase their work. Also because over the summer I worked as the public relations intern for UF’s College of the Arts, I felt thought that I would be more comfortable covering this event due to my experience interviewing artists. This way the photography element of this project would be the only thing that was out of my element per-se.

I had a note in my notepad with some of the key elements that we learned about to review as I took photos, so I could better evaluate my photos and give me ideas for my next photographs.

The note said:

“REMEMBER:

1. Simplicity

2. Rule of Thirds

3. Balance

4.  Framing

5. Leading lines

6. Avoid mergers

7. Take a scene setter / medium shot / portrait / detail shot / action shots”

I kept reminding myself of the goals of this project, so that I could achieve better results with my photographs.

One of the particularly difficult aspects of this experience was that I was unable to ask my subjects to move. As a journalist, it is unethical to stage photos, which would have made capturing particular moments that I wanted much easier. Although I didn’t capture some of the photos that I had in my head, I like the results that I had better because they were not staged. It caught people being their true selves. It was not my rendition of them as a model, but a more accurate project of what they were doing in the moment.

If I could do one thing over again, it would be take more photos. Although I took over 90 photos at the event, some turned out blurry, and some had merging. I tried to always look back at my photos and analyze what I was doing wrong and what I could do better, but I found out that I didn’t see most of my mistakes until I had got home and uploaded the photos to my computer. Next time, I will make sure to zoom in on my photos to get a better idea of the quality of my photographs. I perhaps overestimated my subpar photography skills or the small screen on my DSLR made the photos look a lot better than they really were.

Overall I really enjoyed this experience, and I hope to being doing more photo stories in the future. This experience has definitely helped me gain a deeper appreciation for photojournalism and the effort that goes along into capturing moments that help advance the story.

You can click the read more button below the photo gallery to read my story.

Continue reading →