I’ve lived long enough to see more stupid than I care to remember. Proving that they are not only stupid, but inbred, idiotic, and every other expletive in the book, the league of morons who run the Chicago Sun Times have decided that they don’t need no stink in’ photographers. They can use reporters to take the photos and they are training the reporters to use iPhones to do it. You can’t make this stuff up folks. You really can’t.
While I wish I could tell you the good people of Chicago will become outraged by this new assault on photography and photojournalism, I can’t. Because the good folks of Chicago don’t care. If America and Americans cared about quality, then lots of things would be different. And firing 28 professional photographers, amongst them a Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist, and thinking that those photographic professionals can be replaced by reporters with iPhones shows that the Sun-Times management is indeed stuck on stupid.
What’s next? Kindergartners will be tapped to replace the reporters and mandatory pencil and eraser classes will ensure that good reportage continues?
The Sun-Times needs to die. It needs to go to that place where all other mediocrity-laden bullcrap goes. Wherever that is.
But the big story here is that photography as a profession is in real trouble. This decision by the Sun-Times is just one of a string of many across the country proving that photography and photographers are undervalued. And while the bulk of the responsibility here lies with the Sun-Times owners and managers – professional photographers need to take note. If you aren’t proving yourself valuable every single hour of every single day, you may be declared fungible by your bosses.
When you see me take a stand against photographers who undermine the profession by working for slave wages, or when I call out a guy who thinks he’s a pro because he bought a Nikon D4, or when I tell the CEO of Yahoo she’s a butt-head for saying there are no more professional photographers, you now know why I am doing these things. It’s because if I don’t stand up for my profession I can’t expect anyone else to.
We live in a world that is quickly turning into the place depicted in Mike Judge’s brilliant, satirical movie “Idiocracy.” When Idocracy was released in 2006, it was about a world 500 years in the future. It turns out Mike missed it by 493 years. Idiocracy is now. And it sucks.
We do this to ourselves. We want the cheapest everything we can buy. We’ll take any abuse to save a buck. We’ll accept news coverage in Chicago that is devoid of the powerful, moving, photo stories that only a photo journalist can tell. We’re okay with mediocre. How do I know that? These things wouldn’t still be happening if we weren’t.
My dad used to say if you have a $10 head, buy a $10 motorcycle helmet. Meaning you get what you pay for. And in Chicago, the people who continue to subscribe to and read the Sun-Times are getting SH&T!
The Chicago Sun-Times is not fit to be a fish wrapper and I hope the newspaper dies a quick and ugly death. They deserve it. I also hope this event gets professional photographers off the couch and out there doing something – anything – to help prove that what we do matters.