Exhibition opening in New York

On 4 August, the 2011 World Press Photo exhibition opened at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The opening celebration began with a panel discussion about social media and the role of journalists in the future. The discussion involved director of photography at The Associated Press Santiago Lyon, freelance photographer Teru Kuwayama and blogger Matthew Russell Lee and was moderated by photo editor and professional media consultant MaryAnne Golon.

Golon began the discussion by introducing the topic: "There is a trend that we all have been noticing in journalism and that is the rise of the importance of social media, in the way that both citizen journalists and regular professional journalists communicate while working in the field."

Lyon discussed how social media and other content sources expand the role of journalists, "What we are seeing is an increasing synergy between social networks, citizen journalism, user generated content and news organizations. We’re finding that, as access is shut off by authoritarian governments, we have to rely more and more on other [previously unavailable] sources of imagery. Our job as journalists then is to verify that this content is actually real and what it claims to be."

Kuwayama described how social media changes the way people communicate, "One of the things that is interesting about the communication dynamics of social media is that it is actually conversational. It is no longer like in traditional media where we package up this final report, drop it and then walk away. The real process of transmitting information actually occurs in the follow up, when people are argumenting, challenging and questioning. If you want to move an idea, then the way to get it out there is by getting people involved in the conversation."

Remarking on what the expansion of communication channels brings, Lee said, "I really think that new technology doesn't lead to less truth, maybe it even leads to more truth. However, it definitely leads to more nuance and the idea that there may not be an ultimate truth."

Following the panel discussion, speeches were delivered by World Press Photo of the Year winner Jodi Bieber, 2011 jury chair David Burnett, Director of News and Media Division of the United Nations Department of Public Information Stephane Dujarric and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations Herman Schaper. The visitors were then invited to view the exhibition, which will be on display in New York through 28 August 2011.

The 2011 exhibition. View the locations on its global tour