Thursday, March 1, 2012

Technology, The Ku Klux Klan and Photojournalism

By Peter Hvizdak, Register multimedia photojournalist

On Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012, I had a flashback while documenting a march and rally in East Haven, Conn., protesting racism by the East Haven police department and the town's mayor. Some counter protestors in East Haven covered their faces so they could not be identified. I made a mental snapshot of it during the event as it made me think of my coverage of the Ku Klux Klan in Connecticut in the 1980s, and how technology for photojournalism changes with the times.

I covered the East Haven march Saturday using an iPhone connected to a portable wireless hotspot to transmit a live video feed to the New Haven Register's website in real time as I interviewed participants of the march and rally as well those opposed to the event.

In the 1980s, I documented with still photographs the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in Connecticut while on assignment for the Associated Press, the New Haven Register, the New Haven Journal-Courier and as an independent documentary photographer.

Although the march and rally last Saturday in East Haven was peaceful, I was reminded that human nature, for the most part, doesn't change with the times.

Misunderstanding, mistrust and tension between groups of people who differ on controversial subjects will usually lead to upheaval.

Often, in my professional world, I find that people often want to fight first over opposing views instead of finding a common ground. Passion takes over. Agendas take over. Conflicts happen.

My job is to bring stories home to the readers of the New Haven Register and beyond, regardless of the technology available to me. So, in an homage to still photographs, I found a few prints from my personal files that reminded me of a time when the printing press was the primary medium for photojournalism.

Today, as a "multimedia" photojournalist at the New Haven Register, I am giving a new life to these photographs using the new website-based New Haven Register Media Center.

The captions on these photographs are generic because they were culled from prints stuffed into old photographic paper boxes and various portfolios stashed away in a rented climate-controlled storage unit during a recent move.

I have seen many representations of hate through the lens of a camera. These photographs are a few of those representations. Click here to view the photo gallery.

For some historical background information on the Ku Klux Klan please go to these websites courtesy of Google: