The role of photojournalists

The role of photojournalists is to use photos to report a story and I believe this is the primary and the most important role they play no matter when they report regular stories or when they cover combat situations or humanitarian crises.  In Converging Media, page 140, there is an article which discusses a New York Times photojournalist, Kevin Carter, who reported a starving Sudanese girl but later suffered an “ethical dilemma” of whether he should save the girl instead of positioning 20 minutes for the best shot. Carter was greatly influenced by the case and sadly, he committed suicide one year later. This invokes a question about what ethical responsibilities do photojournalists have in helping those subjects he or she captured?


This is Carter’s famous photo also available from the textbook on page 140.


Theoretically, I don’t believe they have responsibility for helping those they cover. Their responsibility is to capture those crucial moments and use them to report unbiased stories.  Photojournalists who go to chaotic situations already suffer a potential possibility of danger and sometimes they can do nothing about the situation.  Take the Sudanese girl for example,  there are political and social changes going on in the country, so there would be a lot of children starving to death every day. Carter’s photo is a snapshot for all the starving children in Sudan. He could help the girl, but he could not help the situation. Assume that if he saved the girl, he might have realized there are hundreds of thousands of other children starving in Sudan. I believe these reported photographs serve as a link between the situation and the unknown public, which can draw more people to pay attention to the issue and lead political or social decision makers to take actions. However, if there is a photojournalist who is willing to help and can handle the situation,  then he or she is the most suitable person to offer help.  If photojournalists are involved in the situation, the results may be different. The public who saw the touching photo could know the continued story of the news. It might encourage more people to take actions as well.

I believe that it is not photojournalists’ responsibility to take care of the subjects of their photographs, but they can do that if they are willing to.  Returning to Carter and his photo for example, if he tried to help the girl first and carried her to the feeding station, there is still a question mark for whether that girl would survive in the end. Moreover, the rest of the world would never see the photo and know the story accurately. Thus, I think the ethical responsibility of photo journalists is to deliver just and unbiased news and stories with their camera.


Culture and Recorded Music

This is an imagined short discussion with Dr. Daws taking about culture and recorded music.

Dr. Daws: Culture shapes music by transmitting “content” through music.

Cindy:  What do you mean?

Dr. Daws: Well, culture is a broad concept and has many aspects, which consists of a part of our every day life. For example, our language is part of culture, so are religion, values, lifestyle, architecture, food, etc. When you listen to music, have you ever noticed any of those aspects in the music?

Cindy: I still remember when I first started learning English, I learned the “Alphabet” song and it helped me remember the English alphabet. It is much easier for a kid to learn how to sing a song than recite those Alphabet letters. Then,  when I was in high school while I was learning  Japanese, I found out that there is a “Hiragana” song (Japanese Alphabet Song) and it helped me to learn Japanese. Music sometimes makes learning a new language in an easier way, and creates an interesting environment for people to keep up learning.


(Source :

In addition, music makes people easier to start paying attention to a new culture or language. When “Gangnam Style” was popular, Korean pop culture also started catching people’s eyes and soon spread it around the world. People learned to dance “Gangnam Style” and that became a fad. Some people start asking the key words in the song and pick up a little bit of Korean at the same time. Thus, culture is transmitted through music by understanding new language and different cultural phenomenon.

Dr. Daws: Yes, language is one of the aspect. Can you think of other examples?

Cindy: I believe religion is another important aspect as well.  As for religion, culture is transmitted through music by sharing religious values.  Gospel music is a music genre especially created with religious purpose. Using an entertaining way to express Christian values to people, gospel music plays a critical role in putting religious values into music. For example, “Amazing Grace” is a widely known Christian song, implying the concepts of hope and redemption of Jesus Christ. I found out that the primary purpose of Christmas carols is religious. However, with a growing number of non-Christians, Christmas songs can be understood from a pure holiday’s perspective nowadays. Even though some Christmas songs were written for religious purposes,  those songs can not only express its meaning but also bring an atmosphere and the value of the holiday. No matter what religion a person belongs to, when “Silent Night” plays, people can picture a peaceful and harmonious Christmas eve in their mind. Thus, music serves as a cultural medium for the holidays. During the Spring festival in China, there are a lot of lighthearted and joyous holiday music playing through radios in cars, shopping malls or squares. People are so used to listen to those cheerful musical forms while shopping or traveling during the holiday times that listening to the holiday music becomes a habit and a necessary part of the holiday.



The future of Newspapers

What is the future of newspapers?  When I heard of the word “future” in this question, I immediately sought the answer within my imagination.  However, when I thought it over again, it is not like asking a child ‘what do you want to be in the future?’ The child would imaginatively answer, ‘ to become a scientist’. They answered it even without knowing the concept of what does a scientist do. If we want to respond to the question, it does require us to use a bit of imagination but based on rational analysis.

Recalling the way my mom read newspapers when I was younger, I remembered when she came back from grocery shopping she would bring a stack of newspapers. She would scan it and read the important news of the day. My mom was a slow learner of computers. She used to find it hard to get on the Internet and do some things on there. However, when she forced herself to get familiar with how to use computer, she built a habit of reading articles online. She began to search news stories by using search engines, read from major websites and comments from blogs and Twitter. She would no longer subscribe to newspapers and read them! What a big change for a stubborn 50 years old lady!



As for me, I enjoyed reading newspapers with my mom. But I was not focusing on the news, because I could either read it online or learn it through TV. I was more interested in the section of the Beijing News called Colored Essays, in which I could read literature proses, historical reviewed articles, poems etc. It has been a long time since I read a printed newspaper, because online resources are abundant and easily accessible! I feel most of my friends prefer online reading instead of printed newspaper. We are immersing in a fast developing and informational era. When there is a new attractive invention coming out, people are tracking it down and competing who can acquire it fast. We are no longer patient to wait for our old newspaper companion to offer us updated information.



I find this picture interesting. It looks like something we can only imagine in sci-fi stories. However, maybe the future will offer us something called “smart newspapers”, which are fully paperless but paper-like. If this happens, there will be a tremendous craze for people to read newspapers again.

Will newspapers become an endangered media species? I wouldn’t say the future of newspapers is desperate, but they do need to change their way of doing business. We are in a fast pace society. It takes longer for newspapers to type, edit and print out than just posting news online. If you are waiting to read the newspapers by the time it does come out, you will read a leftover. So, maybe in the future newspapers will not be news-oriented but instead will focus on other programs like posting continued stories from a bestseller, similar to The New Yorker. Newspapers probably will also save some space for announcing lottery winner of the week/month, and do a featured article for the winner. Moreover, newspapers probably will need some tweaks on their overall design. Attractive design can make people feel they need to grab a piece of newspaper and this can be a critical selling point in the future. If newspapers can transform their weakness to strength, develop some original ideas and display it appealingly for the consumer, they could survive.

About Me


Welcome to My Blog! My name is 方英冬瑾. (Pinyin: Yingdongjin Fang)  I also prefer “Cindy” because it is my English name since I was 8 years old when I started learning English. I am majoring in Technical Communication and minoring in Business Communication at Southern Poly. I also studied two years at North China University of Technology in Beijing. I am a senior now and will graduate next year in May. (YAY!) I have enjoyed my life in the States so far.

I currently work in the International Programs as a student assistant. I enjoy working there because each semester I get to meet and know a lot of new international students from different parts of the world. I like interacting with them and to hang out with them as well. There will be original ideas and different point of views sparkling out when you talk with them.

I am a traveler. I love to travel and see new things, which makes me very excited and cheerful. I spend a lot of money either on traveling or shopping. I have been trying to go somewhere new during semester breaks. I have been to countries like Mongolia, Singapore, Malaysia and Germany. I have also been to cities in America like New York, Boston, Miami, Key West etc.

Here I share some pictures from my travels…


I went to Berlin this March with ‘City as Text’ class. We also had a photo-blog which we wrote down our experiences. I would like to share the photo-blog with you:

As for media use, I form my habit of checking and replying emails since I came to the States. I didn’t frequently check emails  when I was in China. Now I can link email to my phone to get new email updates.  I can also check and reply emails using an iPad and a computer, etc. This is a big change for me! I log in instant messengers everyday such as Skype and QQ. This is how I keep in touch with my parents and my friends in China!  Media has become more and more important in our lives, and I can’t wait to learn more about media from this class! 🙂

Let’s keep in touch!

Continue reading