What is citizen journalism?
Definition: – The collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by means of the Internet.
The above definition was taken from Oxford Dictionaries (2017) Citizen Journalism, Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/citizen_journalism(Accessed: 21/03/2017).
I have chosen to illustrate the Miners’ Strike for this exercise as this happened close to where my granddad lived and I had many friends who were miners at the time. I also saw first-hand what happened. I have a view that this was simple bloody-mindedness on behalf of an evil dictatorial prime minister, in the shape of Thatcher. I could not have taken any objective images.Therefore, it will be interesting for me to form arguments both for and against objectivity in such imagery. Let me explore this further. (This travesty of justice occurred on 18th June 1984.)
Jeremy Deller The Battle of Orgreave 2001 Colour video Still frame Photo: Martin Jenkinson © Artangel
The above image was taken from Dangerfield, M B (2015) Power to the People | Tate, Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/power-to-the-people (Accessed: 21/03/2017).
Is this photograph objective? What does objective mean in this sense?
Definition of objective “not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased, an objective opinion”. Definition taken from Dictionary.com (2017) Objective | Define Objective at Dictionary.com, Available at: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/objective (Accessed: 21/03/2017).
Can pictures ever be objective and if not, they must be subjective?
Therefore, what does subjective mean?
Definition “existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought (opposed to objective). Pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual: a subjective evaluation. Placing excessive emphasis on one’s own moods, attitudes, opinions, etc.; unduly egocentric. Philosophy. relating to or of the nature of an object as it is known in the mind as distinct from a thing in itself.” Definition taken from Dictionary.com (2017) Subjective | Define Objective at Dictionary.com, Available at: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/subjective (Accessed: 21/03/2017).
For Objective photography.
- Photographers and film-makers may start out feeling they will remain objective, but due to the nature of the human spirit and soul, it would be very hard, if not impossible to remain fully objective in times of abuses of power and with documentary scenarios . There are two sides to every story and we, as people will have our own views. That is what makes us human and is what separates us from our closest relatives in the animal world.
- X-ray photography could be classed as objective, but does the radiographer think about the person who needs the X-ray? Does the image remain without feeling? Is an X-ray not open to interpretation and feeling? Does the manipulation of body of the person being x-rayed not count for anything? Does the radiographer treat the person as a piece of meat, without care for hurting them? Not in my experience.
- If the artist shows any sign of empathy or sympathy with anything in the frame, for me this will close down the possibility of the image being objective. Therefore, what is empathy and sympathy and is it possible to take an image without either. “People often confuse the words empathy and sympathy. Empathy means ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another’ (as in both authors have the skill to make you feel empathy with their heroines), whereas sympathy means ‘feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune’ (as in they had great sympathy for the flood victims)”. Taken from Oxford Dictionaries (2017) empathy – definition, Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/empathy (Accessed: 21/03/2017).
Before I explore my arguments for and against objectivity, there are an infinite number of questions that can be asked that will affect someone’s ability to remain objective and the example below relate to the image above.
- Who was the photographer? We have a name but that is all.
- What was the purpose of his visit to Orgreave?
- What was his political bias?
- Who was he?
- Was he a miner or an ex-miner?
- Was he a working miner?
- Was he an undercover policeman?
- Why was he there?
- How did he get to Orgreave and who did he travel with?
- Was he from the local area?
- What was his family situation/history?
- Why would he be taking the images (moving or still)?
- What was his intention when filming?
- When did he arrive at the scene?
- Did he support the miners?
- Did he have a grudge against the miners or the police?
- How was he affected by what he saw?
- Did he feel either side was justified in their actions/thoughts/arguments?
- Did he understand what the strike was about?
- Was he a Northerner or a Southerner?
- Did he try to intervene?
- Was he attacked by the police?
Having spent some time this subject, my current view is that all photography, that highlights some form of abuse of power (documentary photography too), and in fact any citizen photography cannot be objective. It is the human part of us that makes us press the shutter at the time we do and this must be driven by our inner feelings, even if these are subconscious. Why was the shutter mechanism trigger by the taker? We decide when to press the shutter, based upon what we see. It is why we press the shutter. A locked off camera can produce objective images, but the reason behind the positioning of the camera and lens would bring into question the true definition of objectivity. Just because an image is not posed and the artist has no control over the situation, i.e. the subjects are non-actors, this does not mean an image was taken objectively.
I have therefore not added a list of points for and against objectivity, as my thoughts above fully explain why I feel this is not possible to complete in this given scenario.