Friday, June 28, 2013

Newspapers' Failure Evident in Photo Firings

Photojournalism: The standard as we knew it.
There is an interesting piece on CNN (here) about the Chicago Sun-Times' recent elimination of its photography department, accompanied by photos of some of the people who were dismissed, taken by one of their own.

This is an all-too-common retelling of newspapers' failure on nearly every level in this country and you can blame it on any one of the many factors going into that failure or you can pick and choose. You can't, however, deny the utter lack of feeling in the executive ranks for the workers as people, as loyalists, as professionals, as a group that deserves far better treatment than simply to be run off unceremoniously (and in this case, off-property).

Photojournalism: The new standard.
I found it interesting that one of the fired photographers, a guy in his 50s, said he'd like to do some freelancing, but he doesn't have any equipment. I have no idea how unusual this is, but I know that the level of equipment used at an organization this big is expensive and out of reach of many in the salary range we're talking about here.

Still, a good photographer doesn't have to have a $10,000 camera in order to take good pictures and sell them. I know a lot of people selling their time and expertise for sufficient payment who have cameras and support equipment that cost less than $500. At any given time, I'm carrying around far less than $1,000 in equipment (sometimes less than $100) to get pretty damn good pictures. A good photographer can shoot a serviceable photo with a box with a hole in it (which, at its base, is a camera ).

The photos I took for the post preceding this one were shot on a Casio Exilm point and shoot that I carry in my pocket. It cost $114.

The pictured photogs in the CNN piece were mostly older, giving the impression of higher salaries. Newspapers hate older workers. Hate us. 

I don't know how anybody in the newspaper business can be surprised at losing his job. There is a level of denial in that industry that is astonishing. And the older you are, the closer you are to losing your job. I don't give a damn how many Pulitzers you have (and neither does management). 

The very worst thing about these firings is not their fact--they were inevitable--but the way they were handled. That is most common complaint among newsies, who are treated like non-entities who have not been professional, loyal and generous with the company, which returns none of that.

I really, really dislike the newspaper business these days. It used to be populated with my heroes, but they're becoming more and more difficult to find these days--especially in the executive ranks.

(Photos: for the camera phone; for photojournalist)  

1 comment:

  1. My father worked for a newspaper for 49 years as everything from paperboy to editor. Four years after he retired the paper told him "Oh by the way, we need your pension money, so you don't have a pension anymore".