In a newly published book chapter, Andrew Mendelson, professor of journalism at Temple University’s School of Media and Communication, says the mobile phone camera has changed what news consumers see as truth in photojournalism.
“The unskilled, poorly composed pictures are the new sign of authoritativeness of news. Amateur photographers are the new truth-tellers, speaking to and for powers, through the authority of a vernacular or naïve aesthetic,” he writes.
The chapter is entitled “The Indecisive Moment: Snapshot Aesthetics as Journalistic Truth,” in Assessing Evidence in a Postmodern World (Marquette University Press).
Mendelson believes the phenomenon stems from our strong connection to family snapshots and home movies documenting events we know to be true. But with the dominance of social media, we are now able to document not only our meals and sunsets, but riots, wars and natural disasters, and share those images with the world.
“No longer is it just professional photojournalists who visually translate important events for viewers,” he says.