As this century progresses, I notice less and less content in all our local newspapers. Previously, content came from paid reports (who had generous benefits and dental plans) who would have studied at Carleton and graduated with a degree in journalism. We are now living the era of citizen journalism where anybody (and they do) can weigh in with an opinion.
In my years as not only a magazine photographer but as a writer for newspapers and magazines there was nothing more daunting than to be phoned by the fact checkers of Reader’s Digest. Some may have perceived the magazine as being a lightweight (and perhaps it was) but it was steadfast in publishing the truth (as they saw it).
This idea of content has been on my mind now for a some years because short of citing my daily delivered NY Times I see very little of it.
I keep myself sane (delivering my own content) with my blog. The writing may be spotty and unedited. My friend Les Wiseman, a real journalist, says I bend the truth or remember incorrectly my facts. But I do believe that thanks to my own photographs my blog does have some content.
In previous years whoever followed my blog did so by using my RSS feed. People now do not use or know what a feed is. After I blog I then link it in Facebook and Twitter. Many believe that if I do not do this I have not written a blog at all. What it means is that access to a blog (a product that is now of questionable importance) is through social media. Thus when I link my blog in Facebook accompanied by a photograph I am sharing.
It is this word, sharing, that I believe is losing its coinage to overuse. In Spanish we have the word compartir (from the Latin compartīri) which means to break or split with. But for me it alludes to Christ breaking bread with the apostles, even with the one who was to betray Him. I like the meaning. I like the word. It has not yet lost its value as a beautiful verb.
Also in Spanish we have a saying (often used by my Spanish grandmother): “Saludar con sombrero ajeno,” or to greet someone with someone else’s hat.
It is so easy to go to the web and find an article or a photograph and then share it on to social media. You do not even need to explain why you are sharing it or why you find it memorable. The idea is to share. Many times these shares are lovely photographs. Many times I recognize the photographer (usually a long dead one from the 19thor 20thcentury). Many times these photographs are not given proper credit.
We decry the loss of content in our newspapers or the lack of quality of the content of some magazines and yet we are content to shuffle stuff from here to there and call it sharing. It may be content but lightweight it is.
Just out of curiousity I went to my files to see if I had anything under share. I did. For the Winter Olympics in Canada in 1988 photographers were dispatched the days that the Olympic torch was being run from one side of Canada to the other to photograph events chosen by the editors of the book Share the Flame. One of my shots involved this couple dancing. I do not have a record of their names.
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.