Diluting the Message . . . and the Messenger: ADC, Part 28

As most by now know, the Chicago Sun-Times at one fell swoop recently fired the newspaper’s entire photography staff.

Apparently, the Sun-Times seeks a monopoly on bone-headed ideas. They may soon achieve this, though perhaps facing stiff local competition.

Across town, a few years back, at the Chicago Tribune, a real estate mogul bought that paper, promptly hiring a former Top 40 radio programmer to consult on editorial matters. And what real estate acumen and Top 40 prowess have to do with news reporting is beyond me. (And as an aside, I thought we had gotten rid of that tiresome music format once and for all?)

Jeepers!

Documenting, constructing, and affording readers the complete story of Frans Wildenhain’s work would have been unimaginable without professional photography (http://www.rit.edu/cla/wild/exhibition-catalogue).

Or virtually any other potter, craftsperson, or artist, for that matter.

For the Wildenhain project, I worked closely with photographer A. Sue Weisler in order to accurately and fully document the objects on exhibit and as presented in the book.

By “worked closely” I mean one modest suggestion as to art direction: shoot slightly higher than eye level. Sue did all the rest.

Working collaboratively with the book’s designer, Heidi Trost (http://www.thestudioofht.com/work/wildenhain-exhibition-catalog/), we three crafted a document intended to instruct, inspire, and investigate the artist, the art, and the broader context within each was set.

Photographs were integral to the larger work.

On a less partisan note: imagine trying to explain the differences in glazes used at Grueby Pottery’s or the subtleties of Frederick Walrath’s decoration without professional images.

Who at the Sun-Times will make the news photos now that the photographers are gone? Why, the reporters, of course.

On their iPhones. So says the Sun-Times.

Oh, great.

Now that’s a group – reporters – with very little to do and plenty of time on their idle hands. Such as reporting. Or writing. And editing.

Good grief. If no one else (and, of course, there is), Collectors want verifiable, authoritative information.

And photographs are very much a part of that. Some would go so far as to say the images are Essential.

Maybe the Sun-Times was simply making space for its two new departments: You-Must-Be-Kidding and Are-You-Out-of-Your-Mind.

Read the AP story: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/chicago-sun-times-lays-photography-staff

Watch Steven Colbert’s June 5th commentary: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/426877/june-05-2013/photojournalists-vs–iphones

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