Textual DNA: The hindered authorship of photojournalists in the Western press

Zvi Reich, Inbal Klein-Avraham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For the first time, this paper studies the evolution of photojournalists' bylines compared to reporters' bylines, which proved a sensitive barometer of longitudinal changes in reporters' status, professionalism, creativity and authorship. Based on a sample of 8800 photographs and news items published across the twentieth century in five quality national dailies: New York Times, The Times of London, Le Figaro, Irish Times and Ha'aretz, this paper shows that photojournalists were discriminated against substantially, consistently and internationally throughout the entire century, lagging not only behind reporters, but also behind the growing centrality of their own photographs. This paper suggests that attribution of photojournalists was hindered by the perception of photography as an objective reproduction of reality that has a weaker claim to attribution; by publishers being attributed of photographic authorship; by the efforts of textual journalists to preserve their superior jurisdiction over news reporting, constructing the inferiority of photojournalism and restricting it to denotative functions; and by the conceptual separation between the growing significance of photography, and the secondary status of its creators, who remain visual creatures in a predominantly textual kingdom. Findings indicate how textual the DNA of the Western press is, which makes its survival more difficult in an increasingly visual world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-631
Number of pages13
JournalJournalism Practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014


  • moral right
  • bylines
  • photojournalism
  • photojournalists
  • credits
  • authorship


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