Sunday, November 10, 2013

Where's Santa? Where's an editor.

The Free Press story claimed for adult Londoners this was a parade that "took them back childhood."

Years ago I taught photography to students in the MA journalism program at Western, the university in London, Ontario. I stopped teaching because I burned out. Bluntly, the last classes I taught stunk. Yet, even those classes touched on the obvious failings of the Santa Claus parade picture published online by The London Free Press.

Newspaper sales are down. Responding to falling readership numbers chains like Sun Media, owned by Quebecor, have been slashing jobs. Sadly, along with slashing jobs they have been slashing professionalism. But the loss of professionalism starts at the top. The published picture is a snap shot and the story is filled with errors but the responsibility for this debacle should be dumped at the feet of the newspaper chain owners.

With the photo staff in tatters and the editorial staff equally hard hit, people at newspapers are simply too hard pressed. There was a reason why in the past publications insisted that those taking photographs understand photography and halftone production. There were reasons stories were given to story editors and checked by proof readers.

Jonathan Sher is an excellent investigative reporter. He is an award winner and rightly so. But force Jonathan to take the photos, to write the story and to get the whole package up and onto the net ASAP, along with whatever other assignments he had that day, and errors will not creep in but flood in. It will be an embarrassment. And newspaper people from the past, those with years of experience in the business, could have told Quebecor what was in store.

I took a few moments to attempt removing the yellow cast.
A reader, Maureen Cartmell-Smithers said it all: "The writing of this article is full of very poor grammar. Would have been nice to see some of the floats in the article. Thank you."

An editor would have cleaned up the prose, adding missing prepositions, etc.

A photographer would have supplied a real picture, something that told a stronger story. And a photographer would have not have handed in an image with a garish, yellow colour cast.

The Sun Media and Quebecor owners should be ashamed.

I shot the Hyde Park parade last year. See what a retired Free Press photographer captures with a small point and shoot when he is out recording memories for his family's photo album.

If The Free Press reporter could have shot RAW with a fast lens, he could have told a lot more of the parade story. He could have shown smiling, excited faces, parade floats, candy tossers and candy catchers; He could have shown us images of the folk in the story; And speaking of those in the story, he could have shown us Santa Claus.

There are reasons for our newspaper's shabby coverage but none of the reasons provide an excuse.

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