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I like the new year. For one good reason. Everyone does a round up of all the best images of the year in a beautiful slideshow. So, like every year, I wandered through the internet, looking at different version of the year in pictures. This is where I went:



The Big Picture
The New York Times

Sports Illustrated

Der Spiegel

Time Magazine

And this is what I saw. Only pictures from either AP, Reuters, Getty and a little bit of EPA. All wire services, nothing else. At first I thought it was just a USA thing, but no. Even Der Spiegel, the famous German magazine did the same. Time magazine, The New York Times and Sports Illustrated decided that the best images were the ones that they had assigned, thus presenting only pictures of either staff photographers or assigned photographers.

Now, do not get me wrong. There are a lot of very talented photographers at the wire agencies, and some did an incredible job this year, but still. Ignoring photographers from Aurora, Redux, Noor, VII, Abaca, Sipa, Gamma, Reporters, Magnum, National Geographic, Minden, and so many other source, just because they are not accessible via a monthly payment is plainly ridiculous. Its pure journalistic laziness. And another pin in the machine.

All these so called photo editors who called themselves journalist either did not take the time to look around or simply refused to do so because it would cost them more money. Sad and pathetic. It is an insult to the photographic world to blindly close your eyes and the production of all these extremely talented photographers. It’s plain censorship. Economical censorship, maybe but still censorship. They will not publish and show these images because they are too expensive. Thus their readers will never see them. Not because they are bad, but because they will not pay for them.

Who is to blame ? The subscription model and the bean counters that have taken over. Who is suffering ? Everyone, since we are all deprived from seeing the real “best of” and only get to see a washed out version, pre packaged by the wires. What does it say about the state of our industry. Well, for one, that if you are not part of a wire service in 2009, you will have a hard time being published or seen. That real photo editors are disappearing and being replaced by researchers. That there is a real treasure to be mined for those who think outside the wires, and finally, that the public, the readers, are being scammed.

So all these year end “best pictures of 2008” should be renamed “best cheap and affordable pictures of the year”, leaving room for someone with a budget, and a conscience, to do one with the real best picture of the years.

Author: pmelcher

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