Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bob "Scoop" Phillips retires from WDTN after 51 years

This courtesy of Skip Peterson: Bob Phillips, chief photographer for WDTN in Dayton, retired today, after 51 years at the station.

A longtime ONPA member and former Television POY, it is believed that Phillips holds the record for the longest tenure at the same station. It's the only place he worked.

He is 75 years old, and when I just spoke to him on the phone, he was covering a traffic accident. He won't put the camera down until the 5 pm newscast is on the air. Here is the link to a story Dayton Daily News columnist Dale Huffman published today.

Career Transition Day

Working as a journalist these days is about as unnerving as being a stock market invstor. If you've had enough on the professional end and are looking for a way out, the Career Transition Day being organized by employees at The Plain Dealer may be a first step in that direction for you.

The event initially planned to aid 27 recently laid off employees at The Plain Dealer is open to current and former members of the media in Greater Cleveland. If you are a Newpaper Guild employee the cost is $25 for all others the fee is $50. Any profits from the event will be used to aid those who have been laid off. 

The event is being held at the Trinity Cathedral, 2230 Euclid Ave. (free parking behind church, off Prospect) on Saturday, January 10, 2009. Doors open at 7:45 a.m and the program starts 8:15 a.m. and will end at 3:00 p.m.. Breakfast, lunch and dessert reception is included in the entrance fee.

There will be professional career coaches with advice on resumes, recognizing your transferrable skills, marketing yourself and interviewing strategies.

There will be panels on: working for foundations and non-profits, public relations and marketing jobs, careers in graphics, photography and web design, returning to college to teach or get another degree, freelancing, online journalism and radio opportunities

The deadline to register if January 5, 2009. You can do so online with this link.

A schedule of speakers will be posted in a few days according to organizers.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Amy Sancetta's Top 5 list

At the request of Sport Shooter guru Robert Hanashiro, Ohio based Associated Press photographer Amy Sancetta shares her Top 5 list of cool things she experienced this year. 

She even found a way to make the transition to the Big 50 tolerable. There was nothing cool about that when it happened to me.

Anybody care to share of your cool 2008 experiences, leave a comment below. With so much doom and gloom in the industry it might be good to hear some of stories that make this profession great, despite the business climate. 

New York Times Year in Pictures

For those who like Pictures of the Year galleries the New York Times has posted its Year in Pictures. The 160 images looking back at 2008 are broken down into eight categories if your interest is select.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Eric Draper reflects on being White House photographer

White House photographer Eric Draper granted an interview for Fox News about his experience covering George W. Bush for the last eight years.

Draper covered Bush's first run for the White House while working for Associated Press. Cabinet members, press secretaries and other staff members came and went but Draper has been on the job for both terms and wants to follow Bush's transition back to his home in Texas next month.

Burnout is a word not in this man's vocabulary. Most of us would drool for the access Draper's job brings. I don't think any us would care for the hours though.

Video link

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A hopeful future for newspapers in the year ahead?

The majority of headlines reporting on newspapers in the last year or so have been dominated by dwindling revenue, falling stock prices and layoffs. Poynter Media Business Analyst Rick Edmonds believes there is some long term hope for the industry despite another bad year ahead. Edmonds view in his Biz Blog finds a few slivers of hope for the future.

Lets hope he's right.

Football bad, weather worse

Christmas shopping and a few holiday parties have kept me away, but I did have the misfortune of having time to catch the Browns - Bengals game on the tube Sunday. 

TV types were pitching this game as the "Battle of Ohio". That statement is an insult to the State of Ohio. These two teams are so bad I would not use the term battle and Browns or Bengals in the same sentence.

Of course the only thing worse than bad football is shooting bad football in lousy weather conditions. Such was the case Sunday with the wind chill south of zero. Fans have the option of leaving their seats and finding a warmer one in their car, an option many exercised on Sunday. That's not an option for photographers. 

While Christmas shopping Monday I ran across a young fan looking at Browns merchandise with his mother. He had mentioned that he was at Sunday's game, but left at halftime. As his mother put it, "there's loyalty, and there's stupidity."

I'm not sure of its the state of the industry today or just the lack of interest in these two teams, but it appeared that there was plenty of room on the sldelines Sunday. Neither Cincinnati or Columbus had still photographers at the game and by the looks of things plenty of others stayed home as well.

The good news - Spring training opening day is 60 days away. The bad news - today's business climate will probably keep photographers at home, instead of the sidelines.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Best of the Big Picture

As the calendar winds down on 2008 its customary to look back on the year that was. The Boston Globe's Big Picture is doing so over three days telling the story of 2008 in pictures in three 40 picture galleries.

Chapter one debuted yesterday with some powerful images. One viewer commented, "If you look up the word "Impact" in the dictionary, there will be a link to this page."

There is a permanent link to the Big Picture under Galleries/Multimedia heading on this blog.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

NPPA leadership void

I'm note sure if its the state of the industry today or an NPPA leadership issue but it seems the organization is having problems filling its leadership positions.

Elections are supposed to be taking place now in its even number regions. Region 2 and 4 voting is now underway through Jan 17 although the Region 4 election is uncontested. 

Chris Howell, who is a senior photographer at the Herald-Times in Bloomington, Indiana is running for director. There is no biographical information available on the NPPA Web site for David Couch who is running for associate director. Regions 6, 8 and 10 are still seeking candidates and voting can't begin until there is someone nominated to put on the ballot.

Region 4 is currently headed by Denny Simmons from the Evansville Courier & Press with Rodney Paul Curtis from the Detroit Free Press serving as associate director. Earlier this year Simmons was appointed the new NPPA Monthly News Clip Contest national chairperson.

NPPA leadership has taken its share of criticism over the years, but it like ONPA, is run by volunteers. Without them these organizations don't work. We seemed to be blessed in Ohio with people seemingly always willing to give of their time to serve our members. It seems NPPA has some work to do in this area.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Detroit curtails some home delivery

Its now official - Detroit Media Partnership has announced it will cease home delivery except for Thursday, Friday and Sunday editions and print a one-section street edition the remainder of the week for the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News. 

Readers will undoubtedly be offered some sort of digital subscription to fill the gap. Early reports claim that there will be no newsroom layoffs as a result of this step but 200 jobs outside the newsroom are likely to be shed.

There is a link here for a memo to employees from Detroit Media Partnership CEO David Hunke about the change. Also a link to obersvations from Poynter Media Business Analyst Rick Edmonds who does the math on Detroit's gamble.

Only time will tell if this is a great idea, but it will be one other publishers will look at and follow in some form in the very near future. Someone had to be first. In this case it was Detroit. This might not save our industry, but it surely will change it.

Papers are looking for any alternatives to survive this economic downturn, now known 12 months later, to be a recession.  Some are looking at severing their ties to AP. While that would change the content of the product, the Detroit plan begins the shift from print to web and a culture change that many didn't think would come this fast. 

Perhaps this will force executives to stop giving away their content for free on the Web and create sites that are reader friendly and perhaps advertisers will follow.

We quit making prints 20 years ago. Then they took away our film. Now its the end of the print edition. There was a lot of kicking and screaming over the first two in a lot of corners. Personally I'm much happier without fixer stains and embrace the ability of being able to easily transmit from just about anywhere.

I'm just not sure I want to loose those ink stains on my hands yet.

I just don't think I'm going to have a choice in the matter.

ONPA membership renewal

Its membership renewal time for ONPA members. Renewal forms were delivered to the post office today. This mailing is being sent at the discounted standard mail rate and therefore there is no address forwarding. If you have moved in the past year send an e-mail with your updated address to so  your mail can catch up to you.

Anyone who has not yet paid their 2008 dues must pay 2008 and 2009 dues to be eligible to enter the year-end contest. Those falling into that category will be notified via e-mail.

If you don't want to wait for mailing you can download your membership renewal form here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"God Rest Ye Weary Journalist"

The industry headlines spread so much doom and gloom I thought spreading a little comic relief was in order. Just in time for the holidays a humorous video, set to Christmas music, that looks at the state of journalism today. All in good fun. And by someone who believes firmly in the ability of the Web to save our industry according to our tipster.

The video, "God Rest Ye Weary Journalist", was made by Adam Jadhav, a multimedia reporter and Joel Currier, a metro reporter at the St Louis Post-Dispatch. The pair made the video for the paper's "unofficial" Christmas party. This is what happens when the company cuts the Christmas party from the budget and leaves it to the hands of their employees.

Former ONPA member and Kent State University graduate Emily Rasinski brought her co-workers efforts to the attention of members of a Kent State University photographers discussion group. Rasinski has been a staff photographer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch since January and says she is quite happy there, but nervous about the next round of layoffs. We can all relate to that.

Before joining the Post-Dispatch Rasinski worked at The Evening Sun in Hanover, PA where her portfolio placed third in the small market portfolio category of the 2008 NPPA Pictures of the Year competition. While a student at Kent State she interned in Ohio at the The Advertiser-Tribune in Tiffin and the Akron Beacon Journal.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Demise of the sportswriter

Philadelphia Daily News sports columnist Bill Conlin is usually throwing his darts at sports figures. Earlier this week his attention was turned to the demise of the sportswriter.

As only Conlin could put it he wrote: There are still newspaper readers who venerate the well-turned phrase, the bold analogy, the absurd premise that becomes believable because it is so well put. They are being intellectually punished by men in newspaper board rooms, bottom-liners who lacked the guts required to sack a hedge fund, bankrupt an auto company or approve a $1 million mortgage to a couple with $100,000 in credit-card debt. They lead to one thing: The dumbing down of America.

The problem is, its not just sportswriters. Conlin makes some great points in his column, but you can add theatre critic, editorial cartoonist, photographer or graphic artist, and the talent they bring, being taken from newspapers on a daily basis. We all bring something to the table, but lately the readers are getting much smaller portions.

In Detroit readers may soon get no portion at all.

The Wall Street Journal and New York Times are reporting that the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News will only offer home delivery three days a week and offer pared-down versions of their product for single copy sales on non-delivery days. The official announcement of the change is expected on Tuesday.

I knew the cuts were getting deep.

I just didn't think they'd get to the paperboy this quick.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

October Clip Results

Spot News
1st - Fred Squillante, The Columbus Dispatch, "Mother mourns on Fairmount Ave" 
2nd - Fred Squillante, The Columbus Dispatch, "Woman in scrubs at scene of triple homicide" 
3rd - Fred Squillante, The Columbus Dispatch, Woman in black sweater at scene of triple homicide"
HM - Bob Rossiter, The Repository, "School bus accident" 

General News
1st - Chris Russell, The Columbus Dispatch, "911 Call" 
2nd -Kyle Robertson, The Columbus Dispatch, "A fun goodbye" 
3rd - Jeff Hinckley, The Columbus Dispatch, "Flexible Fred"
HM - Chuck Crow, The Plain Dealer, "McCain autograph" 
HM - Roadell Hickman, The Plain Dealer, "Court room emotion" 

Feature Single
1st - Fred Squillante, The Columbus Dispatch, "Blind band reacts"
2nd - Andrea Kjerrumgarrd, ThisWeek Newspapers, "Viking hat" 
3rd - Wayne Thomas, The Morning Journal, "Wave riding" 
HM Chris Russell, The Columbus Dispatch, "Writing check" 

1st - Neal Lauron, The Columbus Dispatch, "Running back" 
2nd - Lisa DeJong, The Plain Dealer, "Obama volunteer" 
3rd - Chris Russell, The Columbus Dispatch, "Wheeler & dealer" 
HM - Jeff Hinckley, The Columbus Dispatch, "A wash in car" 

1st - Phil Masturzo, Akron Beacon Journal, "Acrobatic catch" 
2nd - Neal Lauron, The Columbus Dispatch, "Air pressure"
3rd - Bob Rossiter, The Repository, "Flying pup" 
HM - Neal Lauron, The Columbus Dispatch, "Flip"
HM - Lorrie Cecil, ThisWeek Newspapers, "Catch" 

Feature Picture Story
1st - Fred Squillante, The Columbus Dispatch, "Triple homocide" 
2nd - Neal Lauron, The Columbus Dispatch, "Bus Accident" 
3rd - Tracy Boulian, The Plain Dealer, "Emmanual Church" 
HM - Jeff Hinckley, The Columbus Dispatch, "Heaven on the Hill" 

Judges: From the Tulsa World: Mike Simmons & Tom Gilbert

AP contest rules for print and television

Contest rules for the Associated Press Society of Ohio and Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters are available for download here.

Best general news photo has been added to the contest this year for still photographers. The AP powers that be forgot to include the category code for it in the rules though. If you follow the naming style for the other categories bgnp would seem to be the code to use. Deadline for newspaper entries is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan 14, 2009. 

There doesn’t appear to be any changes in the rules for television photographers. The television deadline is Thursday, Jan 15. You may drop them off until midnight.

Newspaper rules
Television rules

Larry Fullerton Photojournalism Scholarship

Entries are now being accepted for the Larry Fullerton Photojournalism Scholarship.

The scholarship was established at The Dayton Foundation through contributions from Larry Fullerton's family and friends to assist students pursuing careers in photojournalism. Larry Fullerton was a long time member of ONPA and both a photojournalist and assistant managing editor of the Hamilton Journal-News.

This year, two scholarships are available, first place will receive $3,500 and the runner-up, $1,600. These funds will be deposited with the recipient's university bursar, to be used toward tuition and lab fees. This scholarship is not associated with the ONPA Student Photographer of the Year competition and eligible students need not be members of ONPA to qualify.

Submissions must be received by Friday, Jan 30, 2009. Entry forms and rules can be downloaded here.

Job losses continue to mount

Job losses continue to mount including in the Buckeye state with four Ohio employers in staff reduction mode. 

The Toledo Blade has announced plans to layoff 23 employees. The Toledo Newspaper Guild wants the same buyout offer for its members that is being offered to workers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where 18 positions are being cut. Both papers are owned by Block Communications.

City Beat in Cincinnati is reporting that as many as 30 employees, including 13 in the newsroom, were laid off as part of Gannett's nationwide layoff that has cut over 1,900 jobs since last week. The paper also is cutting its newshole by 36 pages per week according to City Beat.

Staffers at the Record-Courier in Ravenna are bracing for layoffs this Friday. No numbers have been released as of yet. The paper recently closed its operations office in Kent. The Ohio Media Watch blog reports that it is the first time since the mid 1880s that the city of Kent was not home to a daily newspaper office.

Television stations are also jumping on the layoff bandwagon. The Plain Dealer has reported that 13 employees did not have contracts renewed at sister stations WOIO/WUAB-TV in Cleveland. The stations' owner Raycom is cutting 200 jobs across the country.

Former ONPA member Michael King found himself on the outside looking in, a victim of the Gannett layoffs. King had been working at the Post Crescent in Appleton, WI. since graduating from Ohio University. King is also vice president of the Wisconsin News Photographers Association and shared his thoughts about leaving the paper with a post on the WNPA Web site.

King was one of the most active ONPA student members we have ever had while he was student at OU. He actually joined the organization while he was in high school. We obviously wish nothing but the best for King.

Elsewhere in layoff land seven photographers, three photo editors and two lab technicians will be shown the door at the Philadelphia Inquirer. They are among 35 positions being eliminated at the Inquirer and Daily News.

A story on NPPA's Web site reports that Newsday's 20 photographers have been told their jobs have been elminated, but they can apply for new positions with the title of visual journalist or assistant photo editor.

Rules online for the big 3 photo competitions

As 2008 winds down contest season winds up. NPPA has posted rules for The Best of Photojournalism 2009. There are links for still photography, photo editing, web sites and television. As always read the fine print.

The call for entries for the 66th Annual Picture of the Year International has been made. Rules in pdf format are available here for download. The POYi entry deadline is January 15, 2009.

The entry deadline for the World Press Photo competition is January 15, 2009. A link for entry instructions.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

NPPA region 4 October clip results

Feature Multiple
1st - Tracy Boulian / The Plain Dealer, “Remaining Viable”
2nd - Kendra Stanley-Mills / The Muskegon Chronicle, “Avery's Journey”
3rd - David Stephenson / Lexington Herald Leader, “The Rollergirls Next Door”

Spot News
1st - Charlie Nye / The Indianapolis Star, “Bank Robbers Arrest”
2nd - Marshall Gorby / Springfield News-Sun, “Smoke face”
3rd - Ryan Garza / The Flint Journal, “At fault”

General News
1st - Ryan Garza / The Flint Journal, “Normal”
2nd - Clayton Jackson / The Advocate Messenger, “Walking”
3rd - Go Takayama / Ohio University, “Unndokai, a Feild Day”

Feature Single
1st - Kelly Mackey / The State Journal, “Frankfort Finally gets Rain”
2nd - Tracy Boulian / The Plain Dealer, “Anticipation”
3rd - Hilly Schiffer, “Leaf Angel”

1st Erik Holladay / The Jackson Citizen-Patriot, “Born to Run...through the weeds”
2nd - Bill Lackey / Springfield News-Sun, “Football Dive”
3rd - Dave Weatherwax / Jackson Citizen Patriot, “Title Celebration”

Click here to see the winning photos

NPPA Region 4 Top 10 through October
1st - Matt Detrich/The Indianapolis Star - 710
2nd - David Stephenson/Lexington Herald Leader - 570
3rd - Ryan Garza/The Flint Journal - 550
4th - Marshall Gorby/Springfield News-Sun - 408
5th - Charlie Nye/The Indianapolis Star - 360
6th - Erik Holladay/The Jackson Citizen-Patriot - 348
7th - Cory Morse/The Muskegon Chronicle - 318
8th - Clayton Jackson/The Advocate Messenger - 280
9th - Barbara Perenic/Springfield News-Sun - 270
10th - Tracy Boulian/The Plain Dealer -256

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The career of Ron Kuntz now in soft cover

Ron Kuntz been taking pictures almost as long as ONPA has been in existence and doesn't show many signs of slowing down. He even found some time to work with retired Plain Dealer sports writer Burt Graeff to put a book together looking back on his 50 plus years of incredible storytelling.

A Cleveland Original: 50 Years Behind the Lens seems as much a history book as it is a great collection of photojournalism.

When I think about Ron, I hark back to the opening of ABC's Wide World of Sports - "spanning the globe, to bring you the constant variety of sports...the thrill of victory...and the agony of defeat...the human drama of athletic competition...this is Ron Kuntz at work.

Kuntz probably couldn't have picked a better writer for the project than Burt Graeff. Over the years Graeff was there covering many of the same events that Kuntz brought to life in pictures. The list of sporting events that the pair hasn't covered is a lot shorter than the list of those they did.

But there's more to Kuntz's work than just sports. He's covered ten Olympic games and been to the Kentucky Derby 38 times, but he's also traveled to both the North and South poles, covered the Sam Sheppard murder trials, the Kent State anti-war protests and the Hough Riots.

Along the way he struck up a friendship with former Cleveland Brown Bill Glass who asked Kuntz if he'd like to go to prison. At the time it wasn't on his "to do" list, but 35 years later he has visited over 2,000 prisons accompanying Glass in his prison ministry.

Glass wasn't the only person of notoriety he's came across in his travels. The list of celebrities he's been photographed with reads like a who's who in the pop culture hall of fame. From Willie Mays to Muhammad Ali, to Bob Hope, to Michael Jordan. You can even toss in a few presidents to round things out. He's quite the ladies man as well having posed with the likes of Jane Fonda, Bo Derek and Cheryl Tiegs to name a few.

These people didn't warm up to Kuntz because he's shy. As a gifted photographer he can tell a story with a photo, but he's equally talented in just telling a story. Sit down with him for ten minutes and you're likely to hear three. You won't be bored listening and you won't get bored reading about his life behind the camera. You can view a slideshow that looks back at Kuntz on the job over the years and includes a few photos from the book.

There's a story about a young Michael Jordan in the book that really illustrates how athletes of today have changed The story wouldn't happen in today's culture. I won't spoil it for you here, get your hands on the book and enjoy.

Kuntz and Graeff have been out on the book tour circuit lately and were guests of Cleveland's afternoon drive radio talk show host Mike Trivisonno. Click here to listen to the interview or control click to download the mp3 file.

The book is available in most bookstores and also available through Cleveland Landmarks Press.

The book is probably mis-titled. He's not a Cleveland Original, he just an original. Everybody wants to claim you when you're on top though. 

Not bad for the littlest kid in the class who had no confidence.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mega Millions - Missed it by that much

We've all been there before - your colleagues are making the rounds gathering money to purchase group lottery tickets. Happened to me Friday night. Coughed up my five bucks and joined the group and spent the night figuring out who we would call to finish putting out the Saturday edition when our winning numbers were pulled and we turned into millionaires.

Of course you know that didn't happen because I probably wouldn't be writing this entry. This was however as close as I've ever come to winning the Mega Millions. Missed it by 25 miles. You see the real winners were in the newsroom at The Repository, just down I-77 in Canton. Two dozen editorial employees there will split $250,002. Of course Uncle Sam has to take his cut, but that still leaves about $7,000 for each of the lucky ticket holders.

Now that's not enough that you get to make that phone call that someone else needs to finish this edition, but the only disappointed people in the office that night were the ones who didn't buy in. Like they say in the movies, "it could happen to you."

Still & Online Photojournalism Contest rules posted

Rules for the 2008 Still and Online Photojournalism contests are now available to download. There are several changes in both categories and the number of entries eligible for this years contest. 

The number of entries in the still contest has been lowered to 15 from 20. This puts the same limit on individual categories as has always been in place for portfolio entries. In the Online Photojournalism contest the entry limit for video and multimedia categories has been increased from 2 to 3 per publication or station.

A change is being made in the categories which will merge the feature category once again. This eliminates a change made several years ago which split the category into assigned and enterprise features. Over the years judges have commented that they really didn't think the split was necessary. Many photographers were also entering photos in the wrong category.

As is customary in presidential election years a Campaign category has been added to the still contest for 2008. All photos of political candidates for local, state or national office and/or issues including the casting and/or counting of ballots are entered in this category.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Television year-end contest rules

Rules for the 2008 ONPA Television year-end contest are now posted and available for download here. There are no changes from the previous year.

The still and multimedia contest rules should be up soon. There are several minor changes this year.

Three photographers among the cuts at The Plain Dealer

27 employees at the Plain Dealer were dismissed on Monday as part of the company's effort to eliminate 50 jobs in the newsroom. The balance of the cuts were achieved through buyouts. In the photo department longtime staffers Roadell Hickman and Brynne Shaw were laid off. Chris Stephens is also leaving, but is one of the 23 employees who accepted a buyout.

The incredibly shrinking Gannett has eliminated nearly 1,800 jobs in its latest downsizing so far this week. No specifics have surfaced on how Ohio properties have been affected. Reports from the Gannett blog put the number between 45 and 50 jobs eliminated at the smaller Ohio newspapers.

In Ohio Gannett owns the Cincinnati Enquirer, The News Journal in Mansfield and dailies in in Newark, Chillicothe, Coshocton, Lancaster, Marion, Fremont, Bucyrus and Zanesville. The company also owns Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC-TV.

While the mass exodus at Gannett would naturally draw a lot of headlines the leak of profit margins at Gannett properties have raised many eyebrows. Just how much profit is too much profit is the general theme of many of the stories. One of the more pointed attacks comes from Paul Oberjuerge who shares his opinion of Gannett and in Gannett speak its "profit centers".

These are difficult days in our industry and we wish nothing but the best for those who have lost their jobs. Having narrowly escaping the same fate three times in the last eight years I know the emotional strain it puts on a workplace. Most of us are in this profession because it is supposed to be fun. Well the last several years it has been anything but.