Photo Fiasco

Rapper Lupe Fiasco apparently has a better eye for photography than the 29 Sun-Times Media photojournalists who were laid off earlier this year. On Tuesday night, the same owners who abolished their photography department purchased a series of costly photos from Fiasco, who is an aspiring photographer outside of his prominent music career.

Fiasco’s 15 photos are on display in Hotel Public Chicago until Friday, Oct. 4. They will then get transferred to the lobby of Wrapports LLC — the parent company of Sun-Times Media. Wrapports does not hide its pride in Fiasco’s artistic accomplishments, as high-ranking officials asked for a Sun-Times article on the unveiling of his photos and their purchase of that work. However, Chicago Newspaper Guild points out that a freelance writer covered the story instead of a staff writer. Here’s a link to the article:

Chicago Newspaper Guild, which represents the 15 of the 29 fired photographers, is confused why Wrapports chairman Michael Ferro believes Fiasco’s photographers are worthy of purchase and display instead of using the award-winning photography by its acclaimed staff.

Wrapports’ new lobby art depicts Fiasco’s travels in other states and other countries. The Guild has no quarrel with Fiasco or his work. Rather, Chicago Newspaper Guild thinks Wrapports demonstrates a lack of pride in the company’s faithful employees and its daily customers in the Chicago area.

“What Mr. Ferro has done is very confusing. While it’s good to support any aspiring photographer, Sun-Times’ newsroom was once full of photographers,” Chicago Newspaper Guild President David Pollard said. “While I enjoy Lupe Fiasco’s music and his delving into the art of photography, Mr. Ferro’s move has once again demeaned the wealth of talent that he had in his own backyard.”

Two Chicago Sun-Times photographers have won a Pulitzer Prize: John H. White in 1982 for gripping photos of the city’s impoverished neighborhoods and John J. Kim in 2011 as part of a team that uncovered why black victims of crime won’t help police.

Kim left the company before the May 2013 layoffs, but White was in that room when Sun-Times executives relayed the owner’s belief that photos are no longer valuable on May 30. Since then, reporters have been told to get staged photos from their sources or shoot their own photos with camera phones.

“The subjects of our articles deserve better, and so do our readers,” Pollard said. “Our union fights for a quality product by ensuring that our members can financially survive and professionally prosper. We wouldn’t have stayed through Sun-Times Media’s bankruptcy if we didn’t believe in the communities we serve.”

Charges with National Labor Relations Board are pending against Sun-Times Media over the photographers.  The Guild has been attempting to negotiate a fair contract since August 2012.

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