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How To Best Capture The Experiences Of Migrants And Refugees Through Photojournalism  

Migrants detained by Border Patrol wait inside a makeshift holding area beneath the Paso del Norte International Bridge in El paso in March.
Lynda M. González/KUT
Migrants detained by Border Patrol wait inside a makeshift holding area beneath the Paso del Norte International Bridge in El paso in March.

From Texas Standard:

A single picture can change the way people think about an issue or event, even something happening on the other side of the world. Think of the girl running from a napalm attack during the Vietnam War. Or, more recently, the image of the dead body of the Syrian toddler, Alan Kurdi, who washed up on a beach in Turkey after an attempted escape from Syria. How does what we see in those images compare with what the photojournalist sees? Does the click of the shutter imply a certain photojournalistic responsibility?

Keith Greenwoodis associate professor at the University of  Missouri School of Journalism. He studies photojournalism and the effect it has on the public’s perception of issues like immigration and refugees. He recently published a study in which he analyzed over 800 photos submitted for the Pictures of the Year International contest at his journalism school.

Greenwood found that a lot of the submitted photos attempted to show the size and scope of migration today, including lots of photos of people behind fences or barriers. He says it’s up to photographers to capture, fully, how governments respond to immigration, and what happens to people after they leave immigrant detention.

“There’s more we could be doing – that’s what I would tell the photographers to do,”  Greenwood says. “Certainly, you know, working within the organizations, do the job that they need you to do, but the job that they need you to do is also to be an advocate for what you think the stories are.”

What you'll hear in this segment:– How the Syrian migrant experience compares to that of migrants coming to Texas today

– How migration is documented in photography, and how those photos can influence public perception

– What limits and barriers photographers face when trying to document migration 

Written by Marina Marquez.

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.