Photojournalism and Citizen Witnessing

Authored by: Stuart Allan

The Routledge Companion to Digital Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138887961
eBook ISBN: 9781315713793
Adobe ISBN:


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Taking a photograph or video clip with a camera-equipped cell or mobile telephone—more likely a smartphone these days—has become so normalized in everyday life in industrialized countries, it may be surprising to recall how disruptive the technology was perceived to be when it became available in the early years of this century. Viewed from the present vantage point, we may be forgiven a sense of nostalgia when reading how camera phones were celebrated by Time in 2003 as one of the ‘coolest inventions’ of the year (the magazine having awarded “Invention of the Year” to Apple’s iTunes Music Store). “Take two popular gadgets,” namely a cell or mobile telephone and a digital camera, it declared; “Merge them into a single point-and-click device. Then watch the world go nuts over it.” Time writer Anita Hamilton proceeded to elaborate:

Like the Internet before them, camera phones open up a new and surprisingly spontaneous way to communicate. Because they are inconspicuous—many look like regular cell phones—you can snap pictures as discreetly as any spy and, with the push of a few buttons, pop them into an e-mail or upload them to the Web in less than a minute. No wires or computer hookups necessary.

(Hamilton, 2003)

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