The two faces of Christopher Anderson?

In an interesting exchange with Joerg Colburg published on Conscientious in 2009 Anderson stated:

The death of journalism is bad for society, but we’ll be better off with less photojournalism. I won’t miss the self-important, self-congratulatory, hypocritical part of
photojournalism at all. The industry has been a fraud for some time. We created an industry where photography is like big-game hunting. We created an industry of contests that reinforce a hyper-dramatic view of the world. Hyperbole is what makes the double spread (sells) and is also the picture that wins the contest. We end up with cartoons and concerned photographer myths (disclaimer: yes, there are photographers doing meaningful work)

Of course I am worried about how I will make my living now, and I worry for my friends and colleagues too, but I don’t really care about the future of photojournalism. The soul of it has been rotten for a while.

Clearly Anderson has had a change of heart as it’s just been announced he will be on the jury of this years World Press Awards.

Fellow Magnum photographer Peter Van Agtmael argues that ‘with contests like World Press Photo influence is best achieved from inside.’


I guess that depends what kind of ‘influence’ you’re after, as demonstated here and here.

Author — duckrabbit

duckrabbit is a production company formed by radio producer/journalist Benjamin Chesterton and photographer David White. We specialize in digital storytelling.

Discussion (10 Comments)

  1. Stan B. says:

    Join us on tomorrow’s Ted Talk where Mr. Anderson contemplates, analyzes and finally reveals the answer to man’s oldest riddle wrapped in an enigma: Can god make a rock so big- he can’t pick it up?

    Been waiting ages for this one!

  2. Congratulations, I see you guys are still going with vicious melodrama in your headlines. I hope I am really helping to pull in traffic to your site. I am sure you are sleeping well at night wrapped in smug self righteousness.

    1. I stand firmly by the statements I made in that interview with Colberg…now more than ever given the the controversies surrounding the last two WPP contests (i.e. Paolo P and the winning image from Gaza last year).
    2. I assume that one of the main reasons I have been asked to judge is precisely BECAUSE of my criticisms. For me, my criticisms are certainly the central motivation for me to accept the invitation. I view it as an opportunity to better understand the very thing I criticize and to actually participate in trying to address the very things I criticize.
    3. I am surprised to learn that my criticisms of photojournalism preclude me from participating in the conversation. Sure, if I were entering the contest (I no longer do) and accepting an award it would be a bit double standard-ish. But accepting an invitation to “put my money where my mouth is” and voice my concerns as an actual member of the jury…I don’t see how that gives me two faces.

    good luck with the nastiness guys

    Christopher Anderson

    • duckrabbit says:

      Hi Chris,

      ‘Congratulations, I see you guys are still going with vicious melodrama in your headlines.’


      So point one is that you stand by your comments, but point two is that those comments weren’t very well informed.

      Thanks for clearing that up.

  3. “but point two is that those comments weren’t very well informed.”

    1. really? that’s it? that’s your argument?
    2. really? (to myself)I am actually actually having this conversation in the first place?

    good luck with all that

  4. john manfield says:

    I don’t see any contradiction in the answer of Anderson, it makes sense to me. However, I see a pretty angry self righteous blogger who is not able to enter a discussion but just trying to bash a photojournalist.
    Duckrabbit, you should be more analytic and reasonable instead of keeping promoting sensationalism in your blog.

    • duckrabbit says:

      Hi John,

      ‘I see a pretty angry self righteous blogger who is not able to enter a discussion but just trying to bash a photojournalist.’

      By all means have a go. You may have a very good point. But I’m sure the hypocrisy of writing something is ‘self righteous’ ‘angry’, ‘not able to enter into a discussion’, ‘just trying to bash a photojournalist’ without being able to actually refer to anything written as evidence is not lost on readers

      A bit like the pot calling the kettle black or can you actually offer something ‘analytic and reasonable instead’?


      • john manfield says:

        Hi duckrabbit,

        Well, Christopher explained you in a pretty good way why he accepted to be a jury of the WPP and you just replied with a pretty meaningless phrase. Plus you had a row with him in the past… so the sensationalist and aggressive title of your post seems to me to be a personal attack to him.


        • duckrabbit says:


          He said that he stood by his opinions (that prizes are a waste of space) but he wanted to be a judge so he could inform himself better. I think there’s a contradicition in that explantion. Meaningless or otherwise.

          • john manfield says:

            He also said that he wants to try to address the very things he criticizes. I don’t see any contradiction in that.

          • duckrabbit says:

            ‘He wants to try to address the very things he criticizes’

            By being a single judge on a panel? That does sound a bit delusional (imo). Check out the link in the article to see where the issues of governance lie. That said I’m sure he’ll be a decent judge.

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