15 February 2019

I am currently a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics, department of Media and Communications, supervised by Dr Dylan Mulvin and Professor Lilie Chouliaraki and funded by a studentship from the Economic and Social Research Council.

My research focuses are on the implications of automation and ‘artificially intelligent’ software systems for photojournalism. Over the last decade some aspects of prose journalism have become increasingly automated. By contrast these new technologies have had a far more limited impact on photojournalism, partly as a consequence of the technological and semantic challenges presented by visual media, but also as a result of the insouciance of the field itself. The fact that the use of automation lags behind in visual journalism presents a unique opportunity to anticipate how these technologies might be deployed in the years to come, and what the consequences of this might be for the industry, both internally and externally.

There are four specific research questions I want to explore. First, to what extent and in what ways do photojournalism professionals currently interact with these technologies in their work. Second, what are the ideological struggles and contests that underlie the development and deployment of these technologies. Third. how are the practices of photojournalism changed by these technologies. And finally, what are the implications for the types of photojournalism that are possible, and by association for the forms of civic thought and action that photojournalism makes thinkable and actionable.

My aim for this work is help to start and deepen conversations in the industry, and shape the development of policies and regulations around these technologies which will help to maximise their beneficial potential, while minimising the considerable risks they pose to a field already battered by issues ranging from economic disruption to public mistrust. Beyond that however I also hope my work will contribute to larger debates about the socially constructed nature of technologies, and the role that photography plays in democracy.