Written by Jim Hughes
As rather gleefully announced in today's edition of its arch-rival, the New York Post, the New York Daily News has fired veteran photographer David Handschuh, whose injury and survival while photographing during the twin towers' collapse on 9/11 has become the stuff of legend. "For me," David wrote on his Facebook page about the World Trade Center site he had earlier driven past, "it was the place where my life was luckily spared while photographing for the Daily News. The ironic part, I was driving into the office to be fired from my job, a position I have so proudly held for 27 years this month.... My co-workers, who are the most dedicated of creative spirits, are living in an insane asylum."
Also shown the door, according to the Post, were Deputy Photo Editor Jim Alcorn, Night Photo Editor Kevin Coughlin, photo editors Karlo Pastrovic and David Pokress, and photojournalists Mark Bonifacio, Andrew Theodorakis, Enid Alvarez and Aaron Showalter, along with Copy Chief Phil Cornell. These firings follow a similar purge at the News last year which saw some two dozen from the editorial staff let go. Speculation is that owner Mort Zuckerman, who made his fortune in real estate, wants more emphasis and resources directed toward the digital side.
The Daily News once billed itself as "New York's Picture Newspaper," and even now includes a symbolic press camera as part of its logo. There was a time when I would advise young people wanting to get into photojournalism to start with a staff job at a daily newspaper. Print, I believed, was a learning laboratory that would live forever. Seems that is no longer true, and my well-intentioned advice is no longer good, and hasn't been for some time. I can only wring my ink-stained hands.
For more of Jim's writings for TOP, see his category in the right-hand sidebar.
©2014 by Jim Hughes, all rights reserved
Original contents copyright 2014 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
John Camp: "Do you think there's a possibility that they're firing photojournalists because they're replacing them with...something better? Or, at least, in some ways better? How many of the most amazing 9/11 shots were done by pro photographers—like the plane about to hit the tower? I was a news guy for much of my career, until I was in my mid-forties, and though I was a 'pencil' reporter, I also shot quite a few photos because of my photographic hobby, so I both sympathize and empathize with PJs.
"But: the 'best' PJ photos are almost always accidents—few PJs are standing there with their Nikon or Canons when a building explodes, a cop goes down, etc. But the photos of those things often can be quickly 'crowd-sourced,' and for almost no cost. PJs react to events, and get there later; crowds take photos of the event itself. It wasn't a PJ who took the photos of the Rodney King beating that set off the LA riots...or, for that matter, of the assassination of John Kennedy or the prison shots at Abu Ghraib, or, judging from their quality, most of the shots coming out of the crash site of Flight 17....
"I think a lot of PJ work in the future is going to be set events and portraits, and you don't need a huge staff for that, or even a lot of experience—it was work that was given to rookies in the past. And newspapers, which have become financially weak, are also struggling toward a future that is more on-line, and do believe they need to shift resources. (That apparently was part of the reason that the top editor at the New York Times was fired—she wasn't moving toward digital quickly enough.)
"It's a complicated mess, and a lot of people are going to get hurt. I don't have a lot of faith that news gathering will be improved, but I do have some feeling that we will actually see more (at least viewable) photography of critical events, just because everybody carries an iPhone now."