By Dick Kraus
Newsday Staff Photographer (Retired)
It snowed, last night. This morning I left footprints in the inch or so that blanketed the driveway and my head was wreathed in steamy wisps as my breath condensed in the frigid air. It was only twenty yards from the front door to the newspaper box at the curb. Stupid me. I hadn't bothered to put on a coat and the cold wind cut right through me.

How much longer will I have to suffer the elements in order to read my paper with my morning coffee? I suppose I could cancel my subscription to the paper that I had been reading since its inception in 1940. This is also the paper for which I had dedicated more than half of my life until my retirement in 2002. They had been publishing an on-line edition for the past several years. I didn't have to venture out into the weather for that.

I had tried, from time to time, to read the online edition. I hated it. I found it hard to navigate the links. I felt uncomfortable reading text against the white page glare of the computer screen. What few images appeared with the story on the page seemed undersized. I missed the texture and the substance of the pages in my hands. Unless I carted my bagel and coffee upstairs to my office to read the cyberpaper on the 23 inch screen of my desktop, I had to squint at the tiny image on my 12 inch iBook laptop.

Oh, crap! The main reason for all of this griping probably has more to do with my anal retentive traditionalism than any of the mechanics involved. After reading the news, sports, features and funnies, I enjoyed settling down in my recliner and working on the Crossword and the Cryptaquote. They exercise my aging brain and keep the cells from crumbling into dust. There is a Crossword in the online edition. But, as I've mentioned, I need the feel of the paper in my hands. I need to feel the pen in my fingers and hear the scratching of the ball point on the paper's surface. The clacking of the keyboard just doesn't cut it for me. It's non-traditional, y'know.

But, the way things are going, I probably won't have that option for much longer. Sam Zell, the millionaire who recently purchased Tribune Corp., Newsday's parent company, just announced sweeping reductions in support staffs at most of Tribune's holdings. Reductions in the editorial staffs are under consideration. I don't know how much more of a reduction Newsday's Photo Department can stand. There was a time when there were more than 60 photographers in staff positions. Now, there are barely a handful, being supplemented by numerous freelancers.

Even the staffers are doing more work for than they are for the hard copy edition of the paper. I was shocked to see the paper on the Monday after the recent Super Bowl. One of our local New York teams had finally made it to the big game after many years of drought. I had seen the game on tv the night before and was anxious to see how Newsday Photographers covered it. But, Page One of the main News Section was a wire shot of the miracle catch made by Plaxico Burris. There were several pages of the News Section devoted to the game and all the photos were from the wires. Oh, well. Let's see the Sports Section. The cover was wire art as were most of the following pages. Could it be that Newsday hadn't sent any staffers to shoot the big game? I know that there is considerable expense attendant on sending staffers from NY ro Arizona but, c'mon! This is the NY Giants and it is the Super Bowl. Finally, in the back of the Sports Section, I found some photos with the credit lines of two staff shooters. But, the shots were mostly sidebar pictures; not action.

My first thought was that our guys couldn't get field passes and were thus relegated to shooting sidebar wherever they found it. That is so sad. But, if you agree that it is so sad, wait until you hear this.

Later on in the week, I attended the monthly brunch of The Dinosaurs. This is an ad hoc group of retired news photographers, editors, reporters & artists from Newsday and several NY City papers and tv stations. One of the photographers who had covered the game came to the brunch and was bombarded with questions. It all became patently clear why there were so few staff shots in the paper. Both photographers were told before leaving for Arizona that their main efforts were to shoot video for the on-line edition.

Good grief!

Dick Kraus

Addendum: Last month's issue of The Digital Journalist carried an editorial regarding the announcement that The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin would no longer print a daily edition of the paper. While they would continue to print certain sections of the paper and distribute them twice a week for free, the daily paper would now be published on line.




Contents Page Editorials The Platypus Links Copyright
Portfolios Camera Corner War Stories  Dirck's Gallery Comments
Issue Archives Columns Forums Mailing List E-mail Us
 This site is sponsored and powered by Hewlett Packard