The Winners of Pulitzer Prizes Share Experiences with Students

On Nov. 8th, the Department of Journalism, Central News Agency, and the Communication Ethic Center of NCCU together held "Pulitzer Prize Winners Workshop" and invited Steve Fainaru, the winner of Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting 2008, and Xiang-Cheng Liu, the winner of Pulitzer Prize for Photography 1992, to share their experiences and to reappraise the value of journalism with the audience.

Journalists need to go to those battlefields where the storm of shots and shells enshroud the sight and the thunder of tanks and cannons deafen the ear. When a war correspondent uses his pen and camera to witness people's sufferings and death, it has always been a subject of controversy whether he is dutifully "reporting facts" or exploitatively "consuming tragedies." Steve Fainaru, the correspondent of the Washington Post, has devoted his career to reporting the stories of civil freedom and also to fighting against terrorism. He started to cover the war in Iraq in 2004.

Acknowledging the difficulty of being truthful to the facts when reporting international conflicts and war in Iraq, Fainaru confessed that he was not sure whether he was consuming other people's tragedies. However, he emphasized: "When I am covering those international conflicts and wars, I insist my integrity as a professional journalist; it is comfortable for me to report what I have seen."

In regard to this situation, Leonard Chu, the professor of the Department of Journalism in NCCU, agreed with Fainaru. He said that most of the reporters report more than they had witnessed and add their own interpretations to the facts.

On the other hand, 57-year-old Xiang-Cheng Liu is one of the few Chinese winners of Pulitzer Prize for Photography. Jia-Qing Xiao, the director of Taiwan Photographic Art Society, highly praised Liu's photograph for being capable of conveying a diversity of voices while staying truthful to the information it carries.

"Opportunities are always there for those who have prepared," said Liu. He regarded the limited number of films he had as bullets and expressed his anxiety about running out of bullets when facing rapidly changing surroundings. As a consequence, he strained to observe, kept observing, and spent more time on contemplating what would or could happen next in attempt to capture the most important moment.

However, given the increasing numbers of digital camera, the shutting down of Chengda Darkroom, and the fact that the winners of World Press Photo 2008 have abandoned traditional photographic techniques and adopted new methods such as retrieving and combining images, Professor He Wen of the Department of Journalism in NCCU expressed his concern for the future of photographic images.

"If a photograph fails to rouse the emotions of the photographer himself and the viewers, it is the photographer's failure," said Liu. Moreover, he added that the digital era has its pros and cons: the advanced technology has opened up infinite possibilities of creating images on the one hand; but it has also, on the other hand, deluded photographers into forgetting their initial commitment to photography. Liu quoted from Henri Cartier-Bresson, a renowned French photographer, "I start painting again after taking photographs for 50 years; because I have no more passion for people's voices."

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/Chih-Ting Hou    Photo/Central News Agency Photographer Wu Guo Huei