Jonas Bendiksen – Extinction Tourism?

Another interesting post by Pete Brook on Raw File, Extinction Tourism: Work at a Newspaper While You Still Can looks at the decision by Magnum Photographer Jonas Bendiksen to take a job at a small town newspaper in a remote area in the north of Norway,  the Bladet Vesterålen, with a circulation of only 8000.

I’m not sure how the paper survives on such a low figure, and I doubt if it pays the kind of rates Magnum photographers usually expect, but apparently working for a newspaper was something he wanted to be sure to have done before he and newspapers die, and a challenge to work “where nothing too obvious or dramatic was going on“. There are a dozen of his pictures in the post and links to a couple of stories on the paper – the one on moose hunting despite the subject showing the quality of his work.

He splits his life between weeks in Oslo and weeks at the newspaper, and the job has turned out to be more of a going back to his roots than he expected. Having chosen to stay in the small village of Myre when working on the paper he found out that this was the place where his great-grandfather was born.

Bendikson (b1977) first came to Magnum as an intern in their London office when he was 19, before going to Russia to work for several years as a photojournalist. He joined Magnum in 2004 and was made a full member in 2008. His best-known work The Places We Live, made in 2005-7,  looked at life in the slums of Mumbai, Nairobi, Caracas and Jakarta, and was published as a book by Aperture in 2008.

I’m not sure what future there is for printed newspapers, but from the look of its web site,  the Bladet Vesterålen seems to be doing a very good job and deserves to survive. This lunchtime I was reading my own local paper – we still buy one – and thinking how hopeless it was, and that a half-decent blog based in the area could provide a much better service. It is part of a large group that has many titles, and I think few of the reporters or editors know our actual area well, though there are still one or two struggling journalists who do a good job.  But half the time it publishes news not related to our particular area and misses what is happening here – and seldom sends reporters or photographers. And of course won’t pay to use pictures. Frankly much of our local press has lost its way and would hardly be a loss.

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