Thursday, December 17, 2009

When I'm introduced before a lecture...


Here is what a friend who teaches in Boston told his students:

In 1978, at the age of 23, photojournalist J. Ross Baughman became the youngest professional ever awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and was cited for his coverage of the guerrilla war in southern Africa.

While continuing to work that same year as the first contract photojournalist ever hired by the Associated Press, he competed against himself with two other nominations: For infiltrating the American Nazi movement over nine months to uncover their assassination and bombing plans and once more for being the first journalist to ever accompany Palestinian commandoes operating behind Israeli lines.

Baughman soon went on to become an international lecturer on journalism ethics, a university professor and founder of the photo agency Visions, which specialized in long-term, high-risk, difficult-access investigative photo essays around the world. Besides covering wars in 11 countries, his work has appeared everywhere from LIFE to Vanity Fair, Newsweek, Time, Stern, The New York Times Magazine and Vogue.

The life of an investigative photojournalist has not been all that glamorous for J. Ross Baughman. Since becoming a professional in 1975, his assignments have led him to be spit upon, shot at, stricken by encephalitis, to get his arm broken by a New York drug dealer, be lined up for execution by a Neo-Nazi, have his ear drum blown out during a Palestinian mortar attack in Lebanon, be arrested for being a spy and get thrown into a Zambian prison for six weeks. Still not discouraged, he intentionally placed himself next to a tornado, accidentally got in the middle of an earthquake, and then got his leg blown apart by a land mine in El Salvador.

In 1999, Baughman moved back to Virginia, where his family first settled in the 1730s. He most recently served as a senior editor, assistant to the executive editor and director of photography at The Washington Times. He has also advised the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Foundation for their journalism awards, and served as the education chair of The White House News Photographers’ Association. Under the leadership of Baughman, his staff at The Washington Times has twice become finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Some of his writings and photographs may be seen on websites for the Freedom Forum’s Newseum and The Digital


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