The casual observer could be forgiven for wondering whatever happened to the Italian election. For a country which prides itself on the “colourful” antics of its political class, this year the vote was devoid of spectacle and celebration, which photographers prey upon. Silvio Berlusconi won the prime minister’s post after Walter Veltroni conceded defeat in a deadpan speech in Rome, and the best Silvio could do was telephone a few TV stations to say he was “moved”. I pleaded with our staff photographers to provide reaction pictures from party supporters either on the winning or losing side, but it was the equivalent of an emotional dustbowl in the streets of Rome. The only things missing were tumbleweeds blowing through the streets like in a Spaghetti Western. I’ve seen countless election campaigns in my career but this goes into the books as the dullest one… As a colleague noted, due to the stagnant economy this was probably a good election to lose, which may explain the lack of fanfare.
Reuters Bangkok senior photographer Adrees Latif tells how he took the pictures which won him a Pulitzer Prize. The pictures were taken in Myanmar during the protests in September last year and include the photo of Japanese video journalist Kenji Nagai being shot.
The State visit to Britain by French President, Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni drew widespread attention not the least from the massed ranks of photographers and televison crews keen to record the couple’s every step. No cliche was left unturned as members of the press vied with one another to describe their partnership.
The recent general elections in Spain were held in the wake of an ex-socialist councillor shot dead in the Basque Country in a place near my hometown. I was working on the afternoon shift when I saw the first alert of the assassination appear on our text service. I almost jumped out my chair. Somehow my internal alarm bell still goes off instinctively whenever something happens in the area where I used to work. It was only after a couple of seconds that I realized I’m 12,000 kilometers from where the assassination took place, and I couldn’t just grab a camera and go. There wasn’t much I could do, except get in touch with the photographer in the Basque Country, make sure he was aware of the breaking news, and then prepare for his pictures to land on the desk.
Above: Basque police collect evidence outside the house of a former socialist councillor after an attack in Mondragon, northern Spain, March 7, 2008. Photograph by Vincent West
Business and economy news is one of the most challenging parts of covering the story in Tokyo.Why? Fashion shows have their beauties, red carpets have their stars, and sporting events have their action, but what is going to catch a reader’s eye and make them do more than glance at our picture on a story about GDP?
In Tokyo we’re trying to make our financial coverage as compelling as other subjects and our approach is to try to have fun with these assignments, and working around the tight access restrictions. What we see is tightly controlled, and even in news conferences we are usually corralled into a small section of the room and forbidden to move. The subdued demeanor and limited variation in clothing (black, navy or gray suits) worn by this country’s business leaders is another challenge. There are no Richard Bransons here. Not even a Bill Gates. We had a Carlos Ghosn, but he isn’t around much anymore.