What does it take to be a good jury secretary?

Newly appointed as photo contest secretary for the next five years, David Campbell reflects on his role in the upcoming contests. © Peter Fryer

What does it take to be a good jury secretary?
David Campbell: The purpose is to manage the process. The secretary has no vote, of course, and doesn’t comment on images. He or she makes sure the overall process is operated according to the rules and regulations.

The secretary’s primary function is to establish the conditions for the best possible outcome. This means you’re not beholden to particular individuals. In serving the process, you’re serving the wider community of professional photojournalists. They must have the confidence that the jury has been able to consider the entries fairly and that the best judgment was used.

Since as secretary I am involved in the process without comment or vote, my main quality is independence. I am not employed by anyone in the media industry and don’t have links with any stakeholder. That is the unique thing I can offer. I have, however, been analyzing photojournalism for over 15 years, so I have a sense of the community and am engaged in it.

The most successful jury is the one that works best together. The chair and the secretary have a role to play in creating the best conditions for this. How it’ll play out is not something you can assess in advance. You have to manage the process, consider the time involved and the human dynamics. And create the conditions where the input is treated seriously by everyone.

The regulations make clear that the jury has the right to question images if there is concern about their technical production. The entrants need to understand that questions may be asked and that they may be required to provide the raw files of their entries. As secretary I will ensure that such questions are dealt with quickly and thoroughly. The jury goes by current industry standards and has the last word.

Like all elements of the contemporary media, photojournalism is undergoing radical and profound change. […] There’s far too much negativity about the state of contemporary photojournalism. If you understand that the past was not the golden age that people claim, then the future is not as frightening as you may think.

Judging has begun for the
2014 World Press Photo
Multimedia Contest