This week, a Russian soldier pleaded guilty to the murder of an unarmed civilian in the first war crimes trial since the invasion of Ukraine in February. The trial was conducted by a Ukrainian prosecutor, with an investigation by the International Criminal Court still ongoing.
Photos of this, and many other events, have kept the world informed of the devastation on the ground as Putin’s invasion continues.
Documenting war through photos is a tradition that dates back over 150 years. While the rise of social media and camera phones allow individuals to record their experiences in the field, traditional photojournalism continues to be important for documenting and telling the stories of war.
“They’re already going through one of the worst days of their lives, and that’s the last thing I want is to add to that.” —Salwan Georges, The Washington Post
Listen: A photojournalist and author discuss the role of photography in telling war stories.
Salwan Georges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist for the Washington Post who has worked in Ukraine. He says that while it’s his job to tell the stories of people on the ground, he’s always sensitive to the tough times they’re going through.
“I try, in a way, to spend time with people before telling their stories”, explains Georges.
“They’re already going through one of the worst days of their lives, and that’s the last thing I want is to add to that. So our job is to go hang out with people, put them a little bit comfortable and tell their stories to the world.
Jen Schradie is a professor and author of the book “The Revolution That Wasn’t: How Digital Activism Favors Conservatives”. She says traditional journalists are even more important in the age of social media because it is difficult for an individual to maintain public interest on their own.
“Digital activists, in particular,” Schradie explains, “who are really able to sustain high levels of digital engagement are part of movements that are organized, that have resources, that have a division of labor. And if we only rely on individuals… we won’t be able to truly sustain our ability to fight social injustices in the world.