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

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

There’s no question that the New York Times photo of James Comey during his Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, where he detailed his uncomfortable and suspect dealings with President Donald Trump, 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.

Doug Mills, the photographer who carefully planned and shot the photo, used a monopod from above the gaggle of photographers. If you read this detailed write-up about it, you’ll see another photo that has an even clearer view. Counting the photographers, about 32 seemed to be white males, and only two women in the group. There may have been a few minorities, but it’s hard to tell.

Take a look:

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 a president that specifically targets minorities when crafting policy.

The Comey 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. Fox News, according to that same list, seems to be doing better on this front.

Many commenters pointed out this issue not only in terms of the photographers, but also in terms of the people in the room who controlled the levers of power in government:

Some of the comments on the New York Times story about the photo.

Some of the comments on the New York Times story about the photo.

In January, shortly before the inauguration and on the cusp of expanded racism that followed the new administration, Fstoppers Writer 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 Comey hearing reveals that no one’s listening.

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Previous comments
Anonymous's picture

I thought Alex did the humorous articles!?

Just out of curiosity, are you going to use everyone's comments to try to prove your point?

"...Stunning..." Really ? What's stunning is Fstoppers would allow a racist journalist to post this. Look up the definition online of racism, it doesn't apply. Diversity... equally inapplicable here. Are you shocked by the lack of diversity of an American Football or basketball team ? Are you shocked by the lack of diversity in American rap music ? Are you shocked that most all of Thai restaraunts are owned by Thai people ? I want to visit FStoppers for photography, not shock journalism, most of which appears to be biased opinion from disgruntaled or baggaged individuals attempting to elevate thier own popularity or dirty those more successful than themselfs... i.e. 'Fake News'.

Studio 403's picture

Hey Fstoppers-I know this digital rag needs ad hits to make some dough....most of us old timers want a break from all this diveristy crap. Could you pick this up in September when the brats go back to college ,

".most of us **old white guys** want a break from all this diveristy crap" Fixed That For You

So now you're a political news outlet that covers diversity? Call me checked out.

BTW, I'm a female sports journalist. When I started photography school, my classmates was mostly all males. So I'll get straight to the point, we are less instrested in it. Simple as that, its not rocket science.

Studio 403's picture

Great news I am a democrat pony league sports journalist. All my 5 years old love my coverage. My age groups get discriminated all the time. No one covers these 5 years like me.... I just never get the attent6ion these female do.....just not fair guys.....Lets send these female photographers back to food photography in the kitchen where they belong....... I love satire too, wink wink

Na Na, that's awesome you're a sports journalist! Where can I see your work?

David Cannon's picture

White male photographer here: fStoppers is a great site that I check daily for tutorials, techniques, gear reviews, and to see the work of many great photographers. I don't want to see this crap. This crap is everywhere else. Don't push it here. Let this site be about photography, please, and nothing more. Don't cheapen the site with politics. Please.

Ben Perrin's picture

<sarcasm>Yep, as a white male I make sure that no one else can pick up a camera and shoot, except of course for other white males. I've tried really hard not to disclose my evil plans but I guess you've caught me. Well done. Now all sorts of people are going to be able to simply pick up a camera and start shooting images. All embargoes have been lifted. Darn you for foiling our plans!</sarcasm>

Seriously though it takes a special type of person to judge people solely based on their gender and colour. You complain about inequality but judge people based on nothing more than characteristics they were born with. Instead of worrying about ratios why don't you focus on your own photography? No one is stopping you. Not even straight white males.

Wow, Wasim is getting slammed on this! I think if we back up from some of the clunky blanket statements about race, we can agree that politics aside, our chosen art form is at its best when it is created by and visible to people who look and think the way we do AND when it's created by people who look differently and have been shaped by different experiences, whether those be race, socioeconomic status, disibility, gender -- any differences. I can't speak to racism in the field, but I haven't been in this game long enough to have an opinion one way or another. My whole life I've seeked a passion in a field where I could be judged on the quality of my work alone, and so far (maybe I'm naive) photography feels like it can be that field. If increased diversity is important to someone, I feel like rather that criticizing the current state of affairs at the mountain top, an examination of where the path for minority photographers breaks down. I'm all for fostering diversity, but not at the expense of taking anything away from that room full of photographers with Comey who I'm sure worked their rears off to get to that level of opportunity. Hope this all made sense..

Also, this was my first comment on fstoppers ever so if the goal was to spark dialogue through vitriol, congrats ;) joking aside I'm happy to be a member of this community and I look forward to interacting with you all more as I continue to focus on my (our) craft!

Wasim Ahmad's picture

I'm glad I've spurred you to comment (and I appreciate the thoughtfulness of said comment) welcome to Fstoppers!

William Howell's picture

Just read the article about the BBC's wildlife filming techniques and guess what? Nothing but white people, ain't that something!

It would seem you have to give white men their due. We as best in class have made everything in this earth, this is a factual statement. If you respond to my comment please remember that thing you are using to respond with was made possible by, you guessed it, white men.

Anonymous's picture

I would love to know how you came to be so enlightened. Could you please post the name of ten books on European history you have read in the last five years? Or ten works of significant English literature that informed your views? (Not including your KKK meeting pamphlet, please.)

William Howell's picture

Since you are trying “troll” me, as they say in the popular vernacular and commented to me in a mean spirited way, you answer my question first.

Which would you do; submit to a culture that demands, upon penalty of death, your personal sovereignty or to allow views you do not like, to be in your midst?

Anonymous's picture

Nice try, actually trolling would be your insulting (to educated white people like myself) & joker-like statements on white supremacy. I in fact gave you a method to prove your cred as to what you say about your race. You failed.

So, I take it you have not read a book you can name in ten years. And so your unlearned white supremacist understanding of history, which you have every right to and I would never prevent you from expressing, is the product of your own mind.

Thanks, I figured that and just wanted confirmation.

William Howell's picture

It was a nice try, wasn’t it though. But it’s not tough to answer; the answer is the latter.

The last book I read was Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Jacobson. Oops, meant to write Issacson, Walter Issacson.

All I’m saying is don’t be a hater of white men, they’re great and deserve respect also and maybe even a thank you would be nice!

Anonymous's picture

No need to "restate what you're saying" because A. We can read &, B. you're delusional when you review your own posts.

Impressive single tome library list though, you forgot Bill O'Really's trash. (Fyi Steve Jobs would have kicked you out of the room, he did not suffer ....)

Michael Holst's picture

Is that what they tell you at the clan meetings?

William Howell's picture

That’s it, that’s all you have, Lame.

Michael Holst's picture

...well I do have a belly button.

William Howell's picture

An innie or a outtie?

Michael Holst's picture

An innie for sure.... What am I, some kinda weirdo? Make America Innie Again.

This isn't going to change willful ignorance, but I was just waiting for it to get to this point. It is not "a factual statement" that white people are "best in class" humans who "have made everything in this earth." I know this will not compute for you, but why don't you get the answers for yourself by researching the following things white people didn't invent: optics (Iraq), camera obscura (Iraq), numerals (India), mathematics (Egypt), irrigation (Egypt), paper (China), ink (China), gunpowder (China), the compass (China), silk (China), surgery (Muslim, Spain), coffee (Yemen), university (Morocco), algebra (Persia/Uzbekistan), hospitals (Egypt).

However, one thing white people sure have mastered is taking credit for the contributions of everyone else, since the beginning of time.

But I'm just a white guy who's come to terms with the fact that my textbooks, culture, and upbringing have all been told to me from one particular point of view.

Claiming that white people have done everything and made all of the major contributions to human history is absolutely wrong.

William Howell's picture

Nothing I have written is racist and I did not say white people invented everything. I said white men are responsible for the way the world is today and that is true. I apologize if you don’t like it.

1. Optics: I don’t think the best optics come from Persia.
2. Camera: Haven’t purchased a camera from Iraq, modern photography is a French innovation.
3. Paper: I’ve bought paper made in Germany, but never from China. Could you name a brand from China, like say Hahnemuhle.
4. Modern ink: Perfected and mass produced right here in the Good Ol’ USA.
5. Gunpowder: I honestly don’t think nation states are beating down China’s door for artillery.
6. Compass: Satellite GPS, ’nuff said.
7. Silk: Polyester, Nylon, Rayon, etc., fabric for the masses.
8. Surgery: Spain is in Europe, but still I don’t think anyone is breaking into a muslim hospital for life or death surgery.
9. Algebra: The Babylonians innovated algebra a millennia before Islam.

This is enough, there is nothing wrong with white men excelling, nothing.
In this country, if you make here, you are no longer untouchable, no longer an indentured servant, you are free to be the best you can be.

You seem to be very confused, so I'll make one more attempt at explaining what you are saying, in addition to what I said.

You said the exact words, "We as best in class have made everything in this earth, this is a factual statement."

So you did say white people made everything. At least stand by your false claims.

Then, what you also missed, was that I listed things that white people did not invent to show you are obviously wrong in so many ways.

The entire list details where those things originated from, not who (in your opinion) does it best in 2017. Nothing you've said proves anything, or even relates to what I said. I quoted your words and proved them false, its very easy when they're wrong in the first place.

William Howell's picture

No sir, I can hardily assure you I am not confused in the slightest!

If you look at my first comment, that would put the lie to your statement about me writing that whites are best.

My comment as to “best in class” is an analogous to breeds of other animals, you do know we humans are animals, right? And there is nothing wrong with that statement, the different races have strengths and weaknesses, me for instance I can’t tap dance, but I can do other things very well.

And it is only fair to give the white man his due.

Anonymous's picture

The only due you give the white man is embarrassment. Your shtick is, ironically, the white trash flip side of the rap Wasim Ahmad lays out in this article.

William Howell's picture

Thank you for agreeing with me, Wasim's article was indeed, quiet possibly racist against white men.

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