The Schmooze

When Journalists Are Also Activists

Photo Credit: Margaret Olin

Much was made in 2010 of Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, “becoming part of the story” when he treated the Haitian patients he’d been sent to report on. The journalistic ethics, it appeared, were murky; should reporters — particularly those with medical training — abandon their professional posts to help in a crisis, or keep their cameras and mics rolling?

In an April 30 talk, “Witnessing, Bystanding, Onlooking, Participating,” at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Gallery 400, Margaret Olin questioned the underlying assumption of the popular sign, “Put that camera down and join us,” which was the closing shot of Haskell Wexler’s 2012 film “Occupy Los Angeles.”

“Are holding onto your camera and joining us mutually exclusive?” said Olin, who holds appointments at Yale University’s Divinity School, as well as its religious studies, Jewish studies, and art history departments. “I thought there was something called engaged photography. Don’t photographic technologies take part in Occupy and other activist movements?”

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When Journalists Are Also Activists

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