Photojournalism Is (Still) for White Men, as Revealed by a Stunning New York Times Photograph

Photojournalism Is (Still) for White Men, as Revealed by a Stunning New York Times Photograph

There’s no question that the New York Times photo of American diplomats William Taylor and George Kent, where they detailed their uncomfortable and suspect dealings with President Donald Trump’s handling of a phone call with the president of Ukraine, is going to be one of the iconic ones of our time. There’s also no question about who overwhelmingly seems to dominate the photojournalism field based on this photo: white men.

Take a look at the photo:

Ironically, the photo was shot by a woman staff photographer for the New York Times, Erin Schaff, who thought to get slightly behind the diplomats to photograph the gaggle of photographers from the other side. The photographers, about 27, or almost all of them that are visible in the photo, seem to be white males. There may have been a few minorities or other women in the group, but it’s hard to tell.

Regardless of what the exact count was, it’s stunning that news organizations don’t consider this when sending out photographers. Yes, news outlets have hit tough times, and those tough times disproportionately affect minorities in newsrooms, but it’s still something an editor should think about. This is even more important when it involves an administration that specifically targets minorities when crafting policy.

The Schaff photo reveals that there’s still a huge gender/race gap in photojournalism. If you look at the list of New York Times reporters in the White House Press Corps (or at least the ones listed here), there’s a lack of diversity across the board. It’s a similar situation for the board of the White House Correspondents’ Association.

A look at Erin Schaff’s Instagram post from the hearing highlights that this is an issue not only in terms of the photographers, but also in terms of the people in the room who control the levers of power in government:

In January 2017, shortly before the inauguration and on the cusp of expanded racism that followed the new administration, Fstoppers editor Alex Cooke looked at the diversity problem in the photography industry as a whole and called out an important reason to foster diversity in photography and specifically photojournalism:

When photographs disproportionately carry the collective consciousness and culture of a specific group, they in turn disproportionately bias their consumers toward that group's ideas on anything from sexuality to social habits. Culture feeds into art feeds into culture. Culture feeds into advertising feeds into culture. Culture feeds into journalism feeds into culture.

This particular photo from the impeachment hearings show that, still, no one is listening.

Does This Sound Familiar?

If you’re a longtime reader of Fstoppers, maybe these words seem familiar to you? It’s because it’s almost exactly the same article I wrote more than two years ago about another stunning New York Times photo, one of James Comey testifying in the Senate.

It’s been more than two years since I last wrote about this, and the political press has seen it fit to not pursue diversity in their photojournalists. It’s a sad state of affairs when our history is photographically only told through the lenses of white men. That one of the only women in the group documented this travesty speaks volumes.

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139 Comments

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Scott Wardwell's picture

Hey Wasim, maybe whites are naturally better photographers. Good grief. More race and diversity baiting. Just how much more Woke is Fstoppers going to become?

Jeremy Lusk's picture

Man, I was expecting a bunch of white dudes arguing in defense of their own privilege, but I didn’t expect to find any literal white supremacy.

Scott Wardwell's picture

The snark too subtle for you? In any case, you responded exactly as I thought someone would.

Rhonald Rose's picture

White supremacy doesn't exists. It's a scare tactic, wake up.

In every country, among ethnicity, the locals are very passionate about their own group, it's not any kind of supremacy

Scott Wardwell's picture

It apparently exists in Jeremy's mind and living rent-free.

jonas y's picture

It does, but it's so rare you might wanna put it in a museum.

Luke Adams's picture

This is the worst article I have ever seen on Fstoppers. Honestly, it should be removed and an apology issued.

Peter Mueller's picture

I'm sure there's a sign in the photo that states "No Black Photographers Allowed." I've blown the picture up until it's too pixelated to see, so I can't point it out... but it has to be there somewhere. What else would explain the author's hypothesis? I'm pretty sure Adam Schiff is behind the policy, BTW. I did hear that someone heard someone else say so.

(Making another bag of popcorn...)

Alejandro Ilukewitsch's picture

Good old America, where everything is about race and guns... since photojournalism is such a well pay job, surely they preferred hiring only the white elite of photographers...

g coll's picture

Good article which highlights the issue well.

Darien Robertson's picture

Came to shake my head at the inevitable Racism-Lite in the comments.

VINICIUS YUZO ZUCARELI's picture

As someone who is a "minority" race (hate that expression), I feel like the best should be there, no matter anything else.

We need to be color blind and choose who works based on competence, not race.

Darien Robertson's picture

Except, very often even when they are among the best, people of color are excluded.

It's a part of the whole systemic racism thing.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Statistically, people of color are excluded less.

jonas y's picture

"The page you requested cannot be found."

jonas y's picture

Just like your argument

Mikko Ala-Peijari's picture

It's the systemic censorship. Access denied!

jonas y's picture

Could you leave full length video instead of cutdown bits? I mean Project Veritas can do it so...

Wasim Ahmad's picture

The full video is right there on the link. It's 40 minutes long. I'm not sure what you mean? If you mean the full interactions with the real estate agents, you'll have to talk to Newsday about that one, but given that at least three of my former students worked on this piece, I believe what it's saying 100%, because I've bought a home on LI and was told I need to be prequalified to even look at stuff where clearly I didn't if I didn't have a permanent tan.

jonas y's picture

First, this is a very well made presentation. Here's the thing, out of that 240hrs, what one shows is agents "steer" people away from one district. Based on the categorization in Discrimination and Disparities by Thomas Sowell, "Discrimination he defines as “an ability to discern differences in the qualities of people and things, and choosing accordingly”—in other words, “making fact-based distinctions.” Discrimination II he defines as “treating people negatively, based on arbitrary assumptions or aversions concerning individuals of a particular race or sex, for example”—in other words, what most people mean today when they talk of “discrimination.” The author failed to determine which type of discrimination are they, for the most part, furthermore, the way of comparison is flawed because there's no context. Either put a conversation out there with context, Again, discrimination of personal preference and preference catering, in this case, need to be presented. I was racially discriminated on a personal level before, but I don't see why this is somehow a value comparison nor it helps anyone.

David Cannon's picture

FStoppers, please stop posting articles like this. If there is a conspiracy by the media conglomerates to suppress the hiring of certain races, then yes, that’s a story worth telling. But as someone who is politically conservative, I don’t even buy the notion that the left-leaning media is segregating itself.

Edward Crim's picture

It could be that women and minorities want better paying, less demanding jobs. I can't fault them for that. My business partner and I have the bug and can't help tolerating the bad hours, low pay, high expenses and occasional danger. My business partner is an African-American woman. Her twin is an IT professional and makes a lot more money with a lot less work. Mine is an attorney and ditto.

MC G's picture

We need more identity politics here yes!!! I don't get enough if it in my movies, TV shows ect so glad I can finally enjoy some here too. Cheers!

Dan Grayum's picture

Adjust the white balance.

Scott Wardwell's picture

"WHITE BALANCE MATTERS"

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Setting black point too...

Alexander Petrenko's picture

And we are comparing oranges with magentas here, it seems.

Kirk Schwarz's picture

I guess all the other ethnicities are off taking photos of something more fun or better looking....

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