News these days is the one area where press and tv editors wait for the ring-ins from people with their mobile phones. If an incident breaks in front of anyone now, the ability to capture the image and video is virtually instantaneous. Often by the time a press photographer arrives at a scene, a police cordon is in place which applies to the press and TV as much as anyone else. A news photographer will invariably capture the aftermath, the sorrow, the comforting and the floral tributes. I think as human beings we would all rather cover ‘goodnews’ stories, but the world is not like that.
There has always been a moral argument about photographing horrendous incidents or people in distress. To come to terms with this, I well remember former journalist, editor and broadcaster Derek Jameson commenting about a photographer he dismissed for not raising his camera to photograph a news situation. The photographer had argued he didn’t think it right under the circumstances. Before showing him the door, an angry Mr Jameson told him: “You didn’t cause the incident to happen, your job was to be there to record it.” I heard that as a cub photographer in the 1970s and I have never forgotten it.