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Talk to the Newsroom: Assistant Managing Editor Michele McNally

Talk to the Newsroom: Assistant Managing Editor Michele McNally

Assistant Managing Editor Michele McNally, who oversees photography for The New York Times, is answering questions from readers June 22-26. She previously answered questions in July 2006. Questions may be e-mailed to

Ms. McNally joined The Times as director of photography in June 2004 and was promoted to assistant managing editor in July 2005.

Before joining The Times, Ms. McNally was picture editor of Fortune Magazine from November 1986 until May 2004. Previously, she was picture editor of Time Life's Magazine Development Group. She began her career as a sales representative for Sygma Photo News in 1977.

Ms. McNally has judged numerous photography contests, including Pictures of the Year, Overseas Press Club, White House News Photographers, American Photography and Best of Photojournalism, Getty Grants. She was chairman of the World Presss Photo jury in 2007. She was on the Pulitzer photo jury in 2008 and 2009. She has participated in many workshops, including The Flying Short Course in Photojournalism, the World Press Master Class, the Women's Conference in Photojournalism and the Eddie Adams Workshop. She has taught classes at various universities and has been a visiting professor at Syracuse University and The International Center of Photography.

She has been an editor on several books, including the bestseller "Day in the Life" series, and has curated a permanent gallery for Time-Life and The New York Times.

As picture editor of Fortune and The New York Times, Ms. McNally earned awards from American Photography, Pictures of the Year, World Press, Overseas Press Club, Communication Arts, Page Design and the Society of Publication Design. She has also won picture editing awards at Pictures of the Year and Best of Photojournalism. She was named the recipient of the Jim Gordon Award and Picture Editor of the Year by the Lucie Foundation's International Photography Awards. This year Damon Winter of The Times won the Pulitzer prize for feature photography. The award for Best Use of Photography in a newspaper went to The New York Times from both Pictures of the Year- POYi and the Best of Photojournalism.

Other Times staff members have answered questions in this column, including Executive Editor Bill Keller, Managing Editor Jill Abramson, Managing Editor John Geddes, Deputy Managing Editor Jonathan Landman, Assistant Managing Editor Richard L. Berke, Assistant Managing Editor Glenn Kramon, Associate Managing Editor Charles Strum, Business Editor Larry Ingrassia, Obituaries Editor Bill McDonald, Metropolitan Editor Joe Sexton, Living Editor Trish Hall, Investigations Editor Matthew Purdy, Foreign Editor Susan Chira, National Editor Suzanne Daley, Sports Editor Tom Jolly and Culture Editor Sam Sifton. Their responses and those of other Times staff members are on the Talk to the Newsroom page.

These discussions will continue in future weeks with other Times editors and reporters.

The Changing Role of the Photographer

Q. I'm an aspiring multimedia journalist at Stanford who has been inspired by a great many photos that have come through your desk. In the past, the photographer's voice was heard only through her/his image and her/his public identity was limited to the photo byline. Today, as format becomes more diverse, there are new opportunities to hear from these important contributors. How do you project the role and public voice of the photographer will change as news presentation morphs in the coming years (I'm thinking of more photo-centric presentation projects like the Lens Blog)? Will we start to hear more from the photographer as part of the storytelling team than strictly through her/his images and how will that change the photographer's place in the newsroom?

— E. Drake Martinet, Stanford Communications and Journalism M.A. '10


A. Mr. Martinet: I am glad to hear you find the pictures inspiring.

I believe that the role of the photographer has already changed. Whereas photographers were always crucial in making events tangible and enhancing storytelling, now they explore a subject on multiple platforms. For years newspapers have had photo columns that were always in the photographer's voice, now the photographer can do audio over the pictures — truly in his or her own voice. A fine example of this is Bill Cunningham.

James Estrin shared a byline with the writer on the story about caring for Alzheimer patients during the night. He took the pictures, recorded the audio and wrote about his experience.

A photographer can suggest an idea, do the research, shoot the pictures, and shoot video as Chang Lee did here.

The newsroom is an ever-changing place and traditional roles no longer apply. The photojournalist of the future needs to be flexible and ready to go in any direction.

Thanks for your good question.

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