by Dick Kraus
Newsday Staff Photographer (retired)

I have only one frame of reference and that is my own. Something seems to be missing among the current crop of newspaper photographers. Oh yeah. I know this is probably just another rant by an old dinosaur, pining for the "good old days." But I have detected a lack of something; some "je ne sais quois" (French for "I don't know what") that separates the dinosaurs from the new breed of photojournalists. And, it's more than just the generic generation gap. It's more than just the difference between our love of Sinatra's smoky voiced love ballads and the gut wrenching bass sounds of today's rap. It's the Fire In The Eye or the lack thereof in this generation of news pukes.

I had it. Oh, yes. I know that I had it, and so did most of the newspaper photographers with whom I worked and matured. Something special drove us and it wasn't really about salary or rights to our creativity. It was more about being there. Being on the front lines. Being on the cutting edge. Being a witness to events, both large and small. Being able to meet people; the famous, the infamous and the virtually unknown. Being witness to current events; some unimportant daily doings; some historical in scope.

My God. This was the best job in the world. And I thanked my creator daily for allowing me to be a part of this. I always felt a certain amount of pity for the rest of the world. For those poor souls who labored in drudgery, day after endless day. Doing the same mindless task, over and over while I had the opportunity to meet new people and experience new events every day. Plus, from this I made a good living. Does it get any better than this?

Is it any wonder that I went to work with "Fire In My Eye". I looked forward to each day, not knowing what adventure lay before me. I and so many of my contemporaries.

Is it just me, or do any of you recognize the lack of fire in today's journalists? In my waning days as a staff photographer, I noticed that the few old timers left of the staffs of the area newspapers and tv stations had lost the fire. Myself included. Times and conditions had changed radically and we dinosaurs were just picking the last of the leaves off of the tree tops and waiting to become extinct; to die or retire. Staff positions weren't being filled as publishers and tv news directors were slashing costs by using perk free freelancers. While there are certainly many talented and dedicated freelancers around, they don't have the loyalty and dedication to one employer. The feeling of family and continuity is no longer an issue when a photographer has to scramble for jobs from many sources. Plus, they are fighting the losing battle against rights grabs from those that do employ them.

So, in the end, it's just a job. Just a job. No wonder there's no "Fire In The Eye."




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