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, reporters and editors from my paper and other media sources in the NY City area. We gather for brunch at a Long Island diner once a month 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; eliminating talented and experienced staffers and relying more and more on freelancers, Newsday management had just sent out a news release stating that it was with regrets that the paper was forced to raise its newstand 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 go 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 their working hours shooting video for the web edition instead of photos for 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 aren’t 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 event and had meaning. I tried to make them attract the reader with quality. 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.

Dick Kraus






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