Jan 10, 2008

political photojournalism

I'm a political junkie. And Tuesday night's New Hampshire election was a junkie's dream. My favorite part was watching the pollsters and pundits get it so very wrong in the Democratic race. Yes, there are many smart journalists and political people - but they all looked stupid after treating the polls like they were fact. We'll see if they have a little more restraint before the upcoming races. It's going to be great ride. Good candidates, close races, crazy pundits, over-zealous media - and the best part - no Bush on the ballot. Life is good.

I watched the coverage for more than four hours (I know, I need to get a life). I clicked between CNN, MSNBC and stopped occasionally to watch the wackos at Fox News. It's amazing to see how much the coverage has changed since I first started watching elections in the late 60s. I have a vague memory of watching the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. I was 7 years old, and I remember watching with my dad on our black-and-white TV. I didn't really understand what was going on, but I loved all the drama and I was hooked. Later in life I got a first hand look at a presidential race as a TV photojournalist. I worked for a Wichita TV station and spent 2 weeks on the road with presidential candidate Bob Dole. As you might remember, Dole won the Iowa caucus but was then beat by G. Bush 1 in New Hampshire. Dole lost his temper in a TV interview and was tagged as "mean-spirited." Bush went on to win the Republican nomination, and the rest is history. I got to cover the Republican National Convention in New Orleans that year. As a left-leaning Kansan - it was a little surreal to be on the convention floor surrounded by tens of thousands of screaming Republicans. But an experience I'll never forget. I left broadcast journalism in 1989 and don't miss anything about it. It's a circus that just keeps adding strange, new acts.

My favorite part of election coverage has always been the print photographers who cover the campaigns. They seem to capture the best moments of the whole, messy drama. Back when I was slugging my video camera and deck around - the TV and print guys didn't chum around together. They (print guys) thought we were a bunch of photo hacks, and we thought they were aloof prima donnas. I really liked my video gig - but I secretly wanted the job of a print photojournalist. Both jobs paid crap (and still do) - but we still worked long, hard hours to "get the shot." Good thing I was young and idealistic.

I've included several of my favorite shots from the New Hampshire primary. You can check out some more great essays and shots at Time and US News.


Bruce L. Snell said...

Those are awesome shots. If I weren't shooting weddings, I'd totally want to be a photojournalist. Great post.


Doug said...

Hey Bruce,

I think you'd be a damn fine photojournalist. Wouldn't it be great fun to go play photojournalist for a couple weeks for a newspaper or magazine? Maybe we'll have to arrange that before we get way too old to give it a try.


Bruce L. Snell said...

We should start our own "bucket list".