by Dick Kraus
I am feeling sick to my stomach. I don’t know why I should
feel so crappy. This latest turn of events in the world of journalism
is merely just another bump in the road to oblivion. It doesn’t
really affect me. I’ve been retired for six years. My accountant
tells me that the retirement funds that he advised me to put into
annuities are safe, even in this current market collapse. Why,
then, am I taking this latest news so personally?
I’ll tell you why. It’s like...well, it’s like
watching someone dear to you, whose health has been deteriorating
for years, but who has been desperately hanging on to life, finally
getting the news that he/she has finally reached the last stage
and doesn’t have much time left.
Yesterday, my mailbox started filling up with messages from
my dinosaur friends. We are a group of staff photographers,
and editors from my paper and other media sources in the NY
City area. We gather for brunch at a Long Island diner once
and talk about the good old days.
Have you heard?” “ What do you know?”
From what I could gather, the seriously ill newspaper for which
many of us worked for so many years, had finally been dealt
the final blow.
After many years of being sold to one publishing firm after
another, each time resulting in trimming of overhead, i.e;
talented and experienced staffers and relying more and more
Newsday management had just sent out a news release stating
that it was with regrets that the paper was forced to raise
rates from 50 cents daily to 75 cents and from $1.50 to $2
on Sunday. Oh yeah, and it was letting its entire photo staff
as well as
some editors, sports columnists and some others. Some photographers
would be offered a deal to be rehired at reduced salaries.
And, they would not be known as photographers anymore. They would
become Visual Journalists. Big title; smaller pay. Whoopie.
It also means that they would probably be spending most of
working hours shooting video for the web edition instead of
the real newspaper.
If that doesn’t still the faintly beating heart of a once
lively, vital newspaper, then I guess I don’t really
understand what newspapering is all about.
There is a lot of ballyhoo being thrown around about the future
of print journalism resting in the hands of the web. I’ve
seen the attempts at putting print medium on line. Personally,
I think it sucks. They also talk about blogs being the newspapers
and magazines of the future. That’ll work if you are
willing to forgo truth, accuracy, responsibility and accountability.
I doubt if Newsday, or any of the traditional print media will
long survive in this murky environment. The new media moguls
journalists. They are businessmen who don’t have a drop of
printer’s ink in their veins. Journalism is a business to
them. News won’t be covered because a story needs to be told.
News now has a dollar and cents value. If it doesn’t cost
too much to send reporters and photographers around the country
or around the world, it might get into print. More than likely
the reporting will be done from the reporter’s desk by phone
to some civilian on the scene. And the photos will probably be
from some civilian’s cell phone camera.
I loved what I did at Newsday for 42 years. I did my level
best to produce photos that were accurate depictions of the
and had meaning. I tried to make them attract the reader
I took pride in what I did. And, I was proud that my paper
appreciated my efforts. You won’t get any of this from a civilian with
a cell phone camera. That’s sad.
That’s why I feel sick to my stomach, as are many of
us who care about the career we love.