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Department of Don't Stop the Presses

Getting the Picture
Three Things You Can Do If You Believe in Justice and Journalism

Folks, it's been a hell of a few days for me, ever since my bosses at Wrapports Inc./Sun-Times Media, the publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times, and of my Pioneer Press newspapers, fired all 28 professional photographers, and announced it planned to replace their work with those of untrained reporters like me, using iPhones to take pictures and videos. A hell of a few days for me, but a nightmare for the 28 colleagues who were unceremoniously, unfairly and, we believe, illegally fired. 

It's also a nightmare for anyone who cares about getting, reading and viewing good journalism. I know the friends I have here online understand the importance of journalism to Democracy. There's a reason we're called the Fourth Estate, and even when we fall down on the job,  we're doing our best to perform a service for democracy, for this country, and for the world. I don't feel in the least hyperbolic or cheesy in saying that either.

You may not live in Chicago; you may not have to deal with the lowered value and degraded quality of Wrapports Inc./Sun-Times Media newspapers. But you understand the kind of horrific precedent this sets. So, if you'll pardon me taking the liberty, I'm going to ask you to consider helping us fight back. There are three ways you can do it:

1) Watch this interview with Pulitzer Prize winning former Sun-Times photographer John H. White. It'll give you an idea of the quality that these men have so cavalierly discarded, to our detriment, and their own.
2) Call and Email:  If you believe that a news gathering organization needs high quality, professional photojournalism in order to do its duty by its readers and advertisers, please make your concerns known to Wrapports LLC CEO Tim Knight (  312-321-3025  , tknight@suntimes.com) and Wrapports LLC Chairman Michael Ferro (michael@suntimes.com), and to Jim Kirk, who is Chief of Editorial Operations (jkirk@suntimes.com,  312-321-2577  ). Asking them to bargain in good faith with the Guild couldn't hurt, either.

3) And finally, consider signing this petition, on behalf of the photographers by The Newspaper Guild.

The last two are pressure tactics, and pressure tactics are invaluable tools in our fight to regain the photographers' jobs, and to win a contract that will protect them, us and, by extension, the potential for good, solid local and regional journalism in the greater Chicago area. The three men I mention in 2) are extraordinarily conscious of publicity, of how they look to the public, to their shareholders and to potential investors. This is particularly true of Knight and Ferro. Please help us to put pressure on the two men who hold the potential of reversing the most disastrous decision to affect a newspaper chain in years.

Thank you for reading, and considering my plea.

This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/261195.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
livii
Jun. 3rd, 2013 05:24 am (UTC)
Done, done, and done. This is really appalling. This is part of what I wrote in the email:

Photojournalists record our history; their photos are invaluable contributions to everyone. Cameras on mobile devices are wonderful - I use mine to capture beautiful moments by my children and cherish that use - but they are inherently limited by technology and the user. I cannot produce the same quality of photo as a trained photojournalist with a quality camera. And I do not have the journalism training - the nose for news, the connections, the insight to find pictures of the quality of your staff. They are practicing a profession, and one that is important to all of us.

Written off the cuff, but from the heart. I wish you all the best of luck in fighting this.
kaffyr
Jun. 3rd, 2013 08:51 pm (UTC)
And I do not have the journalism training - the nose for news, the connections, the insight to find pictures of the quality of your staff.

What you said also holds true for most print journalists as well; as one commentator noted, writers use different sections of their brains than photographers, and it's rare to have someone at ease with the two very different ways of thinking.

Thanks so much for your support; as of now, our petition has been signed by close to 600 people and we're hoping for more. It's heartening to know that so many people understand the importance of photojournalism and photojournalists.
a_phoenixdragon
Jun. 3rd, 2013 05:33 am (UTC)
I have definitely signed the petition. I felt there would be nothing I could add in comments that wouldn't be frothing, incoherent ragey dismay, so I left that blank. I know newspapers need three things: good journalists, phenomenal (insightful) photographers - and mean editors, lol!! Remove any of these things and the efforts of the other two are still wasted. The shamefulness of what they are pulling brings moral outrage to me. Demanding the same price for less quality; destroying lives for the sake of a few cents on the dollar (maybe) extra. Alas, these moves usually garner the opposite - as poorer quality (no offense) leads to few papers being sold and the cycle starts again.

See? Ragey incoherence, lol!!

Needless to say, I am backing you all one hundred percent!! Here's to hoping the union can pull a miracle and make these idiots eat crow!

*hugs you fiercely*

*sends love and hope to these 28 individuals in this terrible time*
kaffyr
Jun. 3rd, 2013 08:52 pm (UTC)
. I know newspapers need three things: good journalists, phenomenal (insightful) photographers - and mean editors, lol!! Remove any of these things and the efforts of the other two are still wasted.

This is the reality of good quality journalism, right there! Thank you so much for your support, my dear!
apostle_of_eris
Jun. 5th, 2013 01:51 am (UTC)
Ordinarily, Marketplace is the lead in the hotly contested race to be the worst journalism on our local NPR station, but this evening, they interviewed a 35-year veteran photographer from the Sun-Times.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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