Journalism was once a word game. Even such swashbucklers as Richard Harding Davis were devoted entirely to getting the right words out of the right place at the right time. When photo-journalism began, it demanded a different kind of ingenuity and intrepidity. This week the resourcefulness and patience of good photojournalists are described in How LIFE Gets the Story&*; an illustrated view behind the scenes of 41 LIFE assignments.
The pioneer, and the biggest (circ. 5,650,000), picture magazine in the world, LIFE uses only one in 50 of the half-million pictures its editors look at every year. For the one in 50, LIFE photographers often go to extraordinary lengths. Samples: ¶ On the frozen fastness of the Canadian arctic, LIFE Photographer Fritz Goro and Reporter James Goode worked for seven weeks in silent isolation, photographing a corner of the world few men had ever seen before, where the weather extremes far surpass the farthest reaches of the arctic. Their radio could receive messages but could not send. Movement was so difficult that it once took them five days to reach a photographic objective barely ten miles from their two-tent camp. For another five days, rising water in the spring thaw completely cut them off from land. As their provisions dwindled, they lived on canned macaroni alone, because the fish they hooked were too big to land on their lines. When an airplane finally picked them off the permafrost, LIFE printed their memorable full-color photographs of the Canadian tundra.
¶To photograph islands in the South Seas, Photographer Eliot Elisofon traveled 30,000 miles, partly by copra schooner and outrigger canoe, on the island of Nuku Hiva, made an archaeological discovery of carved idols.