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Pulitzer Center Update January 3, 2018

Tom Hundley, Allison Shelley, and Alex Potter on the Financial Struggle for Photojournalists

Canaan: Haiti's Promised Land. Image by Allison Shelley. Haiti, 2016. 
Canaan: Haiti's Promised Land. Image by Allison Shelley. Haiti, 2016.

In a series of articles IJnet published on perspectives in photojournalism, Pulitzer Center senior editor Tom Hundley, grantee Allison Shelley, and Women Photograph/Pulitzer Center grant recipient Alex Potter discussed the broad issue of finding funding for photojournalism. 

"Everybody is in the same boat," Hundley said. "It's difficult unless you have a big name in the business. It's too easy for publications to tell [freelancers] 'Yes, go to Syria and show us what you have when you get back,' and send them off on assignments—not necessarily even risky ones, but not to give them any sort of firm commitments."

Many of Shelley's "unsexy international in-depth reportage stories" were funded by the Pulitzer Center's main travel grants, including reproductive health in Nepal, Nigeria, and Danmark and land rights issues in Haiti. She says that funding for these kinds of projects is critical: "All of these international associations are supporting those important stories that need to be out there."

Potter gives examples from her reporting trip during the battle of Mosul, when the fixers would charge between $400 to $700 per day. She says, "I could never afford it, not as a freelancer without an assignment." 

As IJnet reports, according to the World Press Photo's State of News Photography report in 2016, less than half of the respondents of the survey received all their income from photography.

This is one installment in IJnet's six-part series on photojournalism. Read more on IJnet's website.