From Headline Shooter to Picture Snatcher: The Construction of Photojournalists in American Film, 1928-39

Document Type




Format of Original

17 p.

Publication Date



SAGE Publications

Source Publication

Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1177/1464884904044203


The existing research that addresses the depiction of photojournalists in popular culture focuses primarily on stereotypical characters and assessments of their distorted reflections of ‘reality’. In contrast, this article considers elements of popular cultural practices produced under specific social, economic, and political conditions that may provide useful insights into the actual lived experiences of photojournalists. Framed from a cultural materialist perspective, this research suggests that American films are cultural artifacts that offer documentary evidence as to the actual working conditions of photojournalists. Specifically, this research project focuses on the construction of photojournalists in 20 American films, in which photojournalists and cameramen appear as central characters, produced during the late 1920s and 1930s. The insights gained from the films are also evaluated through a lens of scholarly and trade literature about photojournalism written during the beginning of the 20th century.


Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, Vol. 5, No. 4 (November 2004): 423-439. DOI.

Bonnie Brennen was affiliated with Temple University at the time of publication.