The traditional approach to studying American photojournalism explains the what and who of photojournalism - what events and developments occurred, what notable images were taken, and who took them. Without neglecting those concerns, ""American Photojournalism"" emphasizes the why. It explains how contemporary photojournalism is grounded in three large ideas: the desire to witness and record historical events and important people, the belief in photography's power to advance social justice, and the embrace of a universal humanism. Cookman argues that contemporary photojournalists are strongly influenced by these three ideas, and that these ideas have become the central tenets of the profession.
Claude Cookman is an associate professor of journalism at Indiana University, the winner of a shared Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography, and the author of A Voice Is Born, a history of the National Press Photographers Association.