In Loving Memory of
Paul Martin Lester, Ph.D. died peacefully on November 12, 2023, after a long illness. He is survived by his wife xtine burrough, their two sons, Parker and Martin Lester, and his daughter Allison Lester. Born on March 21st, 1953, he was 70 years old when he died.
From 2015 until his death, he was a Professor of Instruction in the Harry W. Bass, Jr. School of Art, Humanities, and Technology at the University of Texas at Dallas where he taught courses in visual communication and visual ethics.
After receiving an undergraduate degree in journalism in 1976 from the University of Texas at Austin he worked as a photojournalist for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans for five years. He went on to receive a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. from Indiana University in mass communications. He began his teaching career at the University of Central Florida, and in 1990 moved to California State University Fullerton where he spent 25 years on the faculty in the Department of Communications before retiring as Professor Emeritus in 2017.
Drawing on his experiences as a photojournalist and his deep empathy for the news photographer’s subject and the impact of fame on their personal lives, Dr. Lester was a strong advocate and teacher of journalistic ethics. He wrote his first book on the topic in 1991: Photojournalism: An Ethical Approach. Over the next 20 years he published an additional seven books including: Visual Ethics: A Guide for Photographers, Journalists, and Media Makers (2022) with Stephanie Martin and Martin Smith-Rodden; Visual Communication: Images with Messages (2021); Digital Innovations for Mass Communications: Engaging the User (2014); Visual Communication on the Web with xtine burrough (2013); On Floods and Photo Ops: How Herbert Hoover and George W. Bush Exploited Catastrophes (2010); Visual Journalism: A Guide for New Media Professionals with Chris Harris (2002); Desktop Computing Workbook: A Guide for Using Programs in Macintosh and Windows Formats (1996).
From 2006 until 2011 he was editor of the Visual Communication Quarterly, a publication of the Visual Communication Division of the AEJMC published by Taylor & Francis. And from 2011-2014 he served as the editor of the AEJMC publication Journalism & Communication Monographs, published by Sage.
For several years, he co-wrote a monthly column, “Ethics Matters” for News Photographer magazine for the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). In 2015 he was honored by the NPPA with the Kenneth P. McLaughlin Award of Merit for “rendering continuing outstanding service in the interests of news photography.” In 2022, he was honored by the NPPA with the John Long Ethics Award for “an individual who has, through his or her efforts, upheld, shaped, and promoted ethical behavior in all forms of visual journalism.”
In addition to his work as a teacher and scholar, he also produced creative works in photography and film. In 2021, he completed his feature-length film titled The Calendar which was composed of short clips from movies, television programs, and online videos that recount the days and months of a single year as noted in the cinematic stories. The film was awarded Best Documentary Feature Film from the Rome Movie Awards and Best Editing from the Cannes World Film Festival.
Always the master of his own ceremony, Paul planned and staged an end-of-life celebration with his closest friends and family members culminating in a heartful dinner at Harvest, the farm to table restaurant in McKinney, TX. He was joined there by friends from across the country.
A celebration of his life will be held in January 2024.
A scholarship has been established in his name at the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). To contribute, please visit: nppf.org/paul-lester-memorial-contribution.