June 4, 2013
Last week, the Chicago Sun-Times called in every one of their 28 staff photographers to tell them that they were fired effective immediately. Apart from the fact that this is about the most repulsive and asocial way to let go a whole bunch of employees that were loyal to your company for decades and apart from the fact that it’s apalling that there are no laws in Illinois that allow for at least a four-week notice for those people to restructure their lives, this is about as low of a blow to the journalism industry as I can think of.
I have been simmering over this for few days now, but it’s been haunting me ever since I first heard the news. It makes me want to say a few things to all the people out there in charge who may have similar thoughts:
Dear Newspaper Editors of the United States,
I’m sure that in this moment, many of you are eagerly watching the experiment that the Chicago Sun-Times is undertaking; you may hope that if they get away with it, you might, too. And you may be waiting a few more weeks until you think you’re on the safe side, and then do the same.
Let me tell you this: I live in a country that has abandoned staff newspaper photojournalism a long time ago. Most newspapers here work exclusively with agency material, only very few still have a pool of freelancers. Some of them even send out their reporters with smart phones or small point-and-shoots. And with the exception of maybe a handful of papers (in an entire country), they all look pretty bleak.
The prevailing idea of newspaper photojournalism in Germany is that the pictures illustrate the text. Original, self-produced photojournalism is virtually non-existant. The pages of most newspapers may look nice because they run big pictures, but below the surface they are as dead as a rotten tree trunk. The problem is, no one here cares anymore, because the regular Joe Shmoe doesn’t know what good photojournalism is anymore.
PLEASE DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN IN THE UNITED STATES! Your country has such a rich and long tradition of newspaper photojournalism. Every paper in the country that has a photo department is sitting on a national treasure! You don’t appreciate what you have until you loose it, but then it will be too late. Please be smarter than that! Please do not go down that road. Believe me, it’s not pretty where it leads…
Filed under: USA