Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How Quickly Things Change

Cover: Zuma's Double Truck MagazineYesterday the new issue of DOUBLEtruck arrived. My good neighbor Scott Mc Kiernan and his smart, talented staff over at Zuma Press reap instant Karma with every issue. How lucky they are to put out their own magazine just because they love great photography.

In his intro, Scott writes: As we go to print, China's growing footprint in world news is gathering momentum around the upcoming Olympics, while at the same time putting a harsh spotlight on the world's greatest polluter, it's infrastructure and human-rights issues.

This is all true, but now we have another side of China to cover: Monday's massive earthquake in the Sichuan Province. I lived in the Marina District of San Francisco during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. My heart is sinking as I view photos trickling in from the region.

During an extensive trip through China on assignment for TIME with our agency Ressmeyer/Starlight, we went by train though the hinterland to the provincial capital of Chengdu. I was shocked at what I saw: people everywhere and atop beautiful distant hills--as far as the eye could see there was a person--and farmers driving diesel-spewing tractors over grain to mill their wheat. Guards hovered everywhere and listened in to our private conversations. Scientists we met begged us to send them copies of western magazines.

Reading Scott's intro I realized how quickly editorial stories become outdated, and that printing a magazine of news photos is a luxury in today's instant world.