Don’t Mourn, Organize!
Posted on June 3rd, 2013
Last week my FB page (and Twitter stream) was filled with the news that the Chicago Sun-Times had fired its entire photo department, deciding it was better to just give iPhones to its reporters, and work with freelancers. There was the expected outrage and lamentation on FB. But that was all it was, and I’m sure people have already turned the page on this stunning event.
When I commented on one post that I thought it would be amazing for photographers all over Chicago to show up en masse in front of the Sun-Times in a show of protest and solidarity, there was barely any response. That tells me so very much.
Why do photographers just take all the indignities that have befallen the industry in these past few years? This isn’t the first example of a publication letting go of staff photographers. SI did it; Newsday and the NY Daily News have done it. So have the Birmingham News, the Providence Journal, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Newark Star-Ledger, and many others. Where is the real outrage?
And where are the professional organizations? ASMP released a statement saying it was, “extremely disappointed” in the action. That’s the best you can do? And where is APA, the local chapter of ASMP? “Outrageous!” NPPA’s president Mike Borland said. NPPA is planning a workshop to help former Sun-Times photographers. A workshop? That’s the best you can do?
Why aren’t they organizing their members to protest? Just releasing statements is bullshit. Why aren’t they organizing with the communities they serve to call for reinstatement? Why aren’t they picketing to embarrass the hell out of the owners of the Sun-Times?
Is it that photographers (at least those on my FB page) are secretly thinking that now they can get some freelance work? Is it that photographers only care about themselves?
If you don’t think protests have any effect, think of the impact of Occupy. Think of groups that have rescued their schools (also in Chicago), hospitals, etc. Protest and organization can work. If nothing else, it can show the world you exist.
Staying silent, “liking” a post on FB ain’t doing anything. The more you turn the page and move on, the more you accept this without a fight, the fewer and fewer jobs there will be. Then all the moaning and complaining about the state of the industry will fall on my deaf ears, that’s for sure.
I call on photographers to search their souls, get organized and then get out there and make some noise. You have an opportunity to bring home the importance and necessity of professional photography.
Get angry already!
I have just found out about this: “Save the Photographer Rally” Thurs. June 6, 8-9am outside Sun-Times, 350 N Orleans, Chicago.