Two weeks ago, I answered a CFP from the Incoming Editor of Anthropology Now, Maria Vesperi, seeking short responses to a news story about the recent lay-off of photojournalists at the Chicago Sun Times. My piece, The Dark Side of DIY in Photojournalism and Photographic Ethnography came out this week.
In keeping with the CFP, I wrote the piece from the perspective of visual anthropology but the issues surrounding the Sun Times decision to eliminate their entire photojournalism staff are ones that will be familiar to CASTAC colleagues working in computing and new media. The role of computing in the changing character of work in post-industrial economies has been a focus in social research on information technology at least since Shoshana Zuboff’s classic: In the Age of the Smart Machine (1989).
While deskilling, downsizing, automating, and “info-mating” were central to this earlier literature, these themes figure less prominently in more recent research that frames information technologies as media. The Sun Times case is a strong reminder of the common ground connecting the two approaches, not simply because newspapers are in the media business, but because they are institutions within a wider socio-economic field of contestation that participate in, and respond to, broader cultural narratives and social imaginaries.
Building on Vesperi’s idea to call for short response pieces, I’d like to invite short, opinion-page style responses to my Anthropology Now post from CASTAC members. If you would like to participate please send a short (50-100 word) prospectus to Patricia G. Lange (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Monday, July 15.