by Dick Kraus
Newsday Staff Photographer (Retired)


I have spoken about the camaraderie in the Newsday Photo Department on many occasions; the most recent being last month's story about "Cliffy And The Widow Brown." In that saga, I recounted one of the many stories about how the staff of photographers took great delight in shnookering each other.

There were other times when one of us would screw up an assignment. God only knows that I had my share. If you care to, you can read a bunch of them here.

All of these events were grist for the dreaded WALLJOB. The photographer who goofed and fell victim to the dreaded WALLJOB would return to the paper to find the walls of the Photo Department plastered with appropriate photos and clips from newspapers and magazines that would poke fun at the beleagured photographer. We found that our office collection of old Playboy Magazines was a major source of appropriate cartoons.

Being news people, we were geared to respond to situations on a moments notice. No sooner would word arrive of some staffer's goof when those of us still in the office would begin to gather material guaranteed to embarrass the poor soul to death. As each photographer returned from assignments, he/she would be brought up to speed and enlisted in the search for WALLJOB material. In the meantime, it was the Assignment Editor's duty to keep the offending staffer out of the office by keeping him/her busy, even if it meant coming up with a bunch of floater assignments.

Floaters are what we called those throw away pictures that didn't go with stories and could "float" anywhere in the paper.

That gave the rest of us time to do our job. We were professionals, which meant we would carefully edit the material we had gathered. We wanted only the best and the most biting items hanging on the wall when the hapless shmuck walked through the door.

It also allowed time for The Phantom Artist to do his job. To this day, no one is aware of the identity of The Phantom Artist. It's not for nothing he is known as The Phantom. (wink, wink. snicker, snicker).

He would take a sheet of copy paper and a pencil and set to work drawing caricatures of the person or persons involved. Sometimes there was one; other times there might be several sketches showing the miscreant and his/her foul deed.

Like the day when I had an assignment to cover an anti- (Vietnam) war demonstration where protesters were going to feed their draft cards to the seals at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan. Only stupid me didn't read the assignment sheet carefully and ended up at the Bronx Zoo, instead.


And, when you returned to the office, this is what you would find.

It really was a fun place to work.


Dick Kraus

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