A photographers notices that almost all photo journalism awards go to photographers who focus on pain and suffering, giving us a warped view of the world around us:
Media reinforces and shapes public perception whether intended or not. And the same photos and photographers tend to win multiple awards in a given year, thus generations of photojournalists are led to believe that contest-worthy images must conform to a certain look-and-feel. This isn’t just conjecture. A well-known documentary photography who eschews photo contests told me in response to the WPP images, “Disaster porn photojournalism is corrosive to that idea by constantly saturating our media world with the message that the world is hell and never gets any better. Therefore, the logic goes, things like foreign aid are a waste and trying to help places like Africa is doomed to unending failure.”Why do the final photos have to be of a man on fire or legs beneath a body bag? Why not the world’s largest lithium ion battery that solved an energy crisis in Australia? Why not a portrait of Tarana Burke? Are these images not salacious enough for a contest-sized appetite?
Because social justice is a popular topic, especially in the media, this may bias them to presenting a world in constant crisis, both to virtue signal their own concern, as well as to influence the public.