"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." A very famous quote by Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, an American Founding Father and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.
By now most people have heard or read about the 20 to 30 second meeting that left 28 full time photojournalists unemployed at the Chicago Sun-Times. "Things are changing and we have to learn to roll with it," was a quote from Sun-Times photographer Rob Hart. It was a dramatic move on the newspaper's part. In one swoop, years of talented, capable professionally trained journalists with an eye for news were left in the dust.
Is it an evolution of sorts? After all, when computers came about typesetters were no longer needed. That being said I do believe this is different than just a change in technology. This is a change in attitude and I do not like it. Article after article I read, says the same thing that I, and most of my colleagues have been saying for years now: the American public is willing to accept mediocrity, and businesses will do absolutely anything to keep shareholders happy. Have we lost our ethics? Is there a Tony Stark or a Bruce Wayne in the real world?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on the 10th of December 1948 at Palais de Chaillot, Paris. It clearly states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers." The concept of freedom of speech is often covered by the same laws as freedom of the press, thereby giving equal treatment to spoken and published expression.
Our very own first Amendment to Our United States Constitution prohibits infringing on the freedom of the press. I agree with many who have already spoken out on the fact that large corporations will be determining what is news based solely on economic gain. Has anyone forgot Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister, who controlled the media, because he owned the media?
Visit the Reporters Without Borders web site @ www.en.rsf.org to read some scary stuff that can and will happen here if we are not careful. Oh wait….. is it happening now?
The life of a free-lancer is most difficult, and being a free-lance photojournalist is the worst. The pay is below market standards and the hours are long. I have lived that life: put myself through college shooting sports, and it is not pleasant. Many of the newspapers now will have you “work for hire”, which means they own your images and can sell them over and over again. They make money and the creator gives up everything. These newspapers are highly respected for touting freedom of the press, yet they take away the freedom of freelance photojournalists to keep their work. I know who they are and have not support these publications for many years.
Being in business for oneself is very expensive. For well over three years I went without health insurance, and I know many other photographers who have never had it. This economy has devastated my industry. I’m sorry, but I tend to agree with a poster I saw that said, “Pulitzer Prizes are not won with people who shoot with an iphone.” How many horrible photographs have you seen on line? Using “instagram” (which takes your copyright away) does not make you a photographer. A beautiful photograph evolves from the person with a brain that processes and captures the nuances of life.
Great photographers capture the soul of a person or situation; we see things and process the information through a different set of eyes and mind set. We are passionate, persistent, dedicated, and it takes years to develop our vision. I still love and enjoy the photographs of Dorothea Lange, Arnold Newman, Walker Evans, Eugene Smith and Gordon Parks, just to name a few.
Sadly, the telephone has stopped ringing for a lot of us. Gone are the days of stylish corporate magazines, annual reports and brochures for they have been replaced with disposable media. The catch phrase I hear is, “It’s good enough.”
Fortunately, I still have a few clients who care about quality and the service, that I, a full time-professional photographer can give them. My standards and integrity are very high. Good enough is never good enough, it must be excellent.
For those clients: Quality Never Goes Out of Style.
Sicilian boys and their horse © Santa Fabio
Quote and other references came from Wikipedia and web articles from the Chicago Tribune.
All photos are copyright Santa Fabio and from my personal collection.
Detroit People & Commercial Photographer