WAK : Visual Journalism by World Press Photo

Its not an everyday opportunity where you get to attend an event like that. Collaborate with WAK (What About Kuching), World Press Photo held an very liberal talk to showcase about visual journalism in the World today. For me, its a very fruitful day for me. Let me share with you more but first, What is Visual Journalism?


We often hear; let the photo do the talking. Photo speaks. A single photo can show so much emotions and information sometimes as compared to words describing. What is your point of view towards visual journalism? Freedom of speech? These two basically linked. 

World Press Photo is a non profit organization formed in 1955 in Amsterdam. They organized photo contest world wide to promote visual journalism and the importance of it, and how visual journalism helps to deliver information to the world today. 

There’s a few photos that really caught my attention and i would like to share as an example here to portray my own personal opinions.

This is a very popular photos “Tank Man”. Here’s a brief introduction about this photo. 

– World Press Photo

Tank Man (also known as the Unknown Protester or Unknown Rebel) is the nickname of an unidentified man who stood in front of a column of tanks on June 5, 1989, the morning after the Chinese military had suppressed the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 by force. As the lead tank maneuvered to pass by the man, he repeatedly shifted his position in order to obstruct the tank’s attempted path around him. The incident was filmed and smuggled out to a worldwide audience. Internationally, it is considered one of the most iconic images of all time. Inside China, the image and the events leading up to it are virtually unknown today.  — Wikipedia

Now, every photos is debatable. The motive behind, opinions from different angles, outcome of prevailing the photos to the society and so on. You will be shocked that although this photo is taken in China, there is very minimal citizens in China that knew or even aware of this. Now, question is.. why are they not aware? Is the government restricting the freedom of speech in China? Does government actually screen through the news and information to be fed to their own citizens? Does the citizens have their own right to know what is going on throughout? During the discussion, there is one particular man who actually voice out his opinion towards freedom of speech in china, particular to this photo as an example. He says, he thinks it is better to kept secret and control the freedom of speech to the citizens, if not, the country will go into chaos because the country is not mature yet. Freedom of speech, he got his opinion but for me, mine is a totally different one. Why is that particular country is immature? Because they are not exposed enough. Why are they not exposed enough? Because every information fed to them is filter as per the government preference. They have so limited knowledge about the world. Why is the information so limited? Because they don’t practice freedom of speech; or more like they do not agree of. Things do do happen overnight. So freedom of speech helps to grow the mentality of the country. But definitely, do it slowly. 

This photo also brings out the risk and courage of the journalist. How they protect the photo and to make sure it is broadcast. When this photo is taken, it was actually banned from published. The man had to steal the film and pass to his friend in order to avoid being confiscated during the check in the immigration due to his identity as a journalism. if he is not careful enough, the photo will be buried.

Another popular photo back in 1985. Criticism from every aspect. Some debate about the ethic of saving the women instead of taking the last photo of hers. However, in the point of view from the photographer, it may be the best choice if there is no choice but to just accompany her at her last few hours.

– World Press Photo

Omayra Sanchez (12) is trapped in the debris from the Nevado del Ruíz volcano eruption. While rescue workers, who could not reach her, were waiting for materials to arrive, she eventually lost consciousness and died of a heart attack. – World Press Photo

There is no right or wrong. Visual journalism leads to opinions and criticism from different voices and perspective. Being in the media/press industry is no easy. They take risk taking photos for the awareness of the people. Some even lose their life trying to protect the news and photos. A lot of them faces threatens and injustice acts; all for one purpose, to protect voices being call out, to hang on to the philosophy that different voices is allowed to be heard. So the least we can do is to respect them to bring us to the right ground of what is happening now. 

Its a very spiritual talk to be honest. It leads me to think of all the hidden efforts and hardships behind every words or pictures shown to the world today. Salute to all the medias!

And Thank you Sarawak bloggers for making this happen for me!