Saturday, February 28, 2009

Express News Lay-offs

Mark Sobhani, photojournalist for the San Antonio-Express News

Photojournalists provide an intimate view of the unique lives and world they are surrounded by, hoping that their images instill an emotional response in viewers, a compassion for humanity or awe-inspiring recognition of witnessing history. All journalists with cameras desire that their photographs be reciprocated by the viewer and society as essential and necessary, for being the truthful eyes of the world, the watchdog providing factual and historical information. We take pictures to tell the stories of others, and by doing so, share a portion of our own experiences in life.

The San Antonio Express-News laid off 135 employees last week, seventy-five of those working journalists in the newsroom. This was a wide-spread cut, including some of my most admired photographers.

I heard about papers around the country cutting jobs, and wasn't sure if the Express-News would soon follow. I heard about the lay offs when a KSAT 12 news crew showed up at the Ranger newsroom, interviewing my co-workers about how they felt working in a "dying field." This upset me, and I, too, found myself asking why I was working tirelessly everyday, motivated by my growing yet fragile passions, to work as a professional photojournalist.

I have big dreams, dreams I have needed to think long and hard about to make them dreams, to make sure this is something I really want to do. And amidst the terrible news and the feelings I carry, like I'm up against the world who has mostly forgotten to care about newspapers, I have been forced to take my life's dreams into much greater consideration. This isn't a totally bad thing, however, as it has made me begin forming a more concrete plan of what I really want in life and what I need to do to get there.

I still want to be a photographer, preferably a photojournalist, maybe a sports shooter, but never an exclusively wedding/portrait photographer. I have passions in the medical/nutrition field, and I have gone so far as to rethinking my life's career in these terms, treating photography like a hobby. But when I think seriously about that, it doesn't feel right. I take great pride and joy in helping people, and have always felt that the best way for anyone to live is by making a positive impact on people's lives and the world around them. But I need variety and change, a way to express my creativity. I want to be able to travel and experience the world, to really experience it, like no tourist can. And I have been reassured that my images can provide a lasting impression on people's lives, in their own vision and response to the world.

I don't believe photographs in news media will ever go away, there will always be a need for news photos as visual aids to stories. It's the community's value for print media and stories that are less "big" news and more local, human issues, that has brought me back to the drawing board, to form a backup plan and decide roughly what steps I should take. I don't know what will become of the newspaper industry in ten years, and can only guess that they will further be moved online. Photographs will travel with the news, how and wherever it ends up being told.

You can read's article on the lay offs here

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