The audience, which included a fair number of journalists, burst into grim laughter. What could you do? The shift in the industry was total. As if to underscore this reality, the Brooklyn Brewery’s Steve Hindy pointed out that in his day, most of the journalists he worked with had staff jobs with benefits. Today, he said, quoting an estimate from Sebastian Junger, perhaps 80% of the journalists in war zones were freelancers.
Audience response to the talk was uniformly positive. When I talked to him afterwards, Todd Heisler pointed out that the talk was only the tip of the iceberg—just a small window into the reality of war photography. Carolyn Cole characterized the changes in the industry as a double-edged sword: the rise of the Internet has increased the potential audience for photography and journalism, but also eroded support structures for journalists.
Wednesday’s event was the third in a series of discussions with war correspondents at the Brooklyn Brewery, produced in cooperation with the nonprofit Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues (RISC) and Togather, a platform that helps authors facilitate similar talks. Proceeds of the ticket sales went to RISC, which trains freelance correspondents in the administration of first aid to injured colleagues.