Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Recession Chronicles: Build the Wall

Peter Tobia and Carl Juste have been engaging in several conversations regarding the state of journalism and the demise of the newspaper industry. Here are some highlights.

CPJ: There is an interesting debate on how newspaper can charge for content. It is interesting and important discussion but till this date (July 19th, 2009) newsrooms, papers, and readers are steadily on the decline. Why has it taken so long for the industry to develop an affective response to this crisis?

PT: The Morton Plan was proposed months ago about charging for content with a deadline of July 4th. Newspapers across the country couldn't get it together by then. It amazes me how newspapers drag their feet and continue to do so even when the writing has been on the wall for years.

CPJ: I find the piece CJR's Build the wall,, interesting through it gave me a sense of it being a last minute plea prior to the industry's execution. I don't think the industry really cares about the 4th State, or quality journalism, since most of the decisions concerning the daily management of various papers are made in the interest bottom line instead of sustaining high-end journalism. I am trying to make sense of an industry which has helped shape my adult professional life, but for some strange reason I find it hard to reconcile what I have been taught with what is.

PT: With layoffs and cuts in newsrooms how is strong, compelling and thoughtful content suppose to make readers want to pay for content? It is unfortunate to witness the newspaper industry imploding due to poor management and lack of creative vision. The excitement in many newsrooms is gone along with the soul of the paper.

Posted by John Granatino on Thu 16 Jul 2009 on CJR's website:

My issue with publishers building an interactive strategy of charging for content is that the very act of charging effectively closes the doors on any number of new interactive businesses that publishers might reasonably pursue. Charging for content is a strategy that places the survival of the existing product first and ignores the needs of businesses and consumers who might otherwise help publishers create numerous new revenue streams. Instead of thinking of the online newspaper as an end in and of itself (or as a way to support printed newspapers), think of it as the entry point into a system of interlocking new products and services. The free newspaper Web site is the aggregation magnet that brings a large audience into the system. The site then qualifies those customers for a wide variety of other products and services that meet the needs of paying business customers (e.g., lead-generation services, transaction fulfillment services, audience development and management services, and so on). If you strangle the size of your original audience by charging them (in the notion that the only business opportunity before you is porting the newspaper over to the Web), you stifle any number of opportunities down the pipeline, opportunities that are made possible by a free and easy-to-access aggregation site up front.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Iris Rising: Miami Heart Gallery Opening

Museum-Quality Exhibit of Photographs
Taken by World-Renowned Iris PhotoCollective Photojournalists Open at The Freedom Tower in Miami,Florida

André Chung

MIAMI, FL – June 12, 2009 – For the second consecutive year, The Children’s Trust is spearheading an initiative promoting the adoption of foster children in Miami-Dade County called the The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery. This groundbreaking work in Miami-Dade County seeks adoptive parents for 58 children, and the museum-quality exhibit features portraits of those available for adoption, photographed by some of the world’s top photographers. Based on a national model of other Heart Galleries in cities across the United States, the Miami Heart Gallery captures the unique personality of the children through portraits taken at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and Amelia Earhart Park. The photographs will be on exhibit to the public from Saturday, June 13 through Sunday, July 12 at The Freedom Tower, located at 600 N. Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132. The exhibition will be open Tuesdays thru Fridays, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. and on Saturdays, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and will subsequently travel to different venues throughout Miami-Dade County.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery includes a cell-phone-accessible audio component and is complimented by a comprehensive web site,, which highlights the children’s portraits; videos of each child with information about their hobbies, goals and dreams; as well as a video about the making of the exhibit. Photos of the new children being featured will be posted on the Web site in conjunction with the relaunch of the exhibit. Anyone interested in learning more about adopting a foster child should call The Children’s Trust Helpline at 211 or visit

Carl Juste

Iris PhotoCollective photojournalists ( are proud to participate in the Miami Heart Gallery project and hope that we can convey each child's essence, individuality and beauty.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Recession Chronicles: Help Save Newspapers - The Morton Plan

Recession Chronicles: Help Save Newspapers - The Morton Plan
I have had the honor of working with Peter Tobia for several weeks in Pakistan. During that tour we have had countless conversations about photojournalism, world politics, and assorted subjects. During the years we have stayed in touch, and once in a while we have tried to make sense of the changes in our industry. This blog is a product of those conversations and how we can try to illicit positive dialogue that can shed light on our industry's current crisis.

Please join the conversation, check out the plan, and let us get the word out.

Newspapers are not dinosaurs. If you don't believe me, check out the circulation numbers after 9/11, presidential elections and the inauguration, just to mention a few examples. Newspapers are still vibrant and growing in ethnic communities in the U.S., Europe and parts of Latin America. Please leave your comments and ideas and engage in being part of the solution.

Carl Juste, Founder of Iris PhotoCollective

This blog was established to inform journalists of The Morton Plan: the proposal that newspapers charge for the content they produce. It is also a place to stimulate discussion, voice opinions and take an active role in determining the future of newspapers.

The disappearance of ad revenue, a troubled economy, the decline in newspaper circulation, as people move online to get their news, and heavy production and distribution cost of newspapers have put their existence in jeopardy.

Newspapers are not the enemy. Rather they are the source of most of the content that appears on the Web. The “crossing-their-fingers” advertising gamble newspapers hoped would work by giving their content away for free has been a disaster. Search engines along with news websites have turned profits through advertising at the expense of newspapers.

Newspapers publishers have dealt with their financial crisis by closing newspapers, reducing their work force through layoffs and buyouts, losing seasoned journalists who are knowledgeable and who strived for journalism excellence. This approach is like throwing the baby out with the bath water, making newspapers less compelling, less effective and less important to the people who read them.

Now is the time for newspapers to re-evaluate what they are doing and take a lead in determining their future, not only financially but in the concept of a strong press equals a strong democracy.

It goes without saying that newspapers, as we know them, are destined for change, whether they move completely online or adjust in other ways. But in the meantime, the content that is produced by hard work, creative vision, passion and commitment should not be given away for free.

There is power in numbers which can be a catalyst for action that can bring about change.

Communicate John Morton’s Plan to your newsrooms and establish an individual committee to push for your paper to begin charging for content, with July 4th being the target date.

Look for the logo and get behind the plan.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tribute and Tears: Adieu Jean-Juste

It is believed that leaders are not born, but are created. Created by circumstances, events, and immortalize by forces beyond conscience effort. Miami's Haitian community gathered and shared memories of friends, politicians, and comrades as they bid adieu to Haitian leader Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste. His unexpected death at the age of 62 brought a shock wave to all who continue to demand equal treatment and social just for Haitian migrants. Some 3,000 admires and mourners packed the inside of Notre Dame d'Haiti Catholic Church while thousands more stood in the rain outside to pay homage to the Roman Catholic priest who went from a little-known figure on a Miami street corner to the central figure in the Haitian civil rights struggle.

Rev. Gerard 'Jeri' Jean-Juste laid the foundation regarding the definition of a leader. Soft spoken, but also a street-fighter with a maverick personality that often transformed to both activist and the master of ceremony with the major goal to bash his enemies and rally against the unfair immigration policies of the US government. His priestly manner and ease with people made him just the right person to lead the Haitian movement in Miami and in his homeland of Haiti. He understood the power of the media and brought awareness to the plight of Haitian refugees. He kept the Haitian plight on the front burner reminding local, national, and international communities of their responsibility in finding justice for Haitians in the US and abroad.

Rev. Jean-Juste, the champion of the poor, did not shy from controversy. In 1980, reported in the Miami Herald, he blasted the Catholic Church in Haiti for recognizing the marriage of Jean-Claude Duvalier and his bride. Called the church a 'prostitute.' He was fired as director of the Haitian Refugee Center for 'ineptitude' and 'erratic and unproductive behavior' in the view of the Christian Community Service Agency. He responded by forming Haitian Refugee Center, Inc., but ideological differences would create problems, forcing him once again to form his own-grass roots political watchdog group, Veye Yo, Creole for 'Watch Them' in 1985.

Rev. Jean-Juste would return back to Haiti for the inauguration of President Jean-Bertrand Aristed (1991), but was arrest in his own parish on weapons charges, and accused of being a 'threat to the public order' in 2004 the year of Aristide's final ouster. A year later, he would be arrested again on charges of murder of journalist/poet Jacque Roche. In 2006 after mounting international pressure from human rights activists, Jean-Juste was finally released from Port-au-Prince jail after serving 192 days. He was diagnosed with leukemia and returned to Miami to seek treatment. In the same year, murder charges against him were dropped, but he still faced weapons possession and conspiracy charges. Those charges were also eventually dropped.

Citing the rosary as his only weapon, Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste understood the sacrifices that had to be made for social justice. From feeding the poor, preaching to the forgotten, and defending the downtrodden, Rev. Jean-Juste has left a legacy that demands the question 'Who among us is best suited to speak on behalf of the poor, the lost, and the forgotten?' Hopefully our lost is heaven's gain, and each of us will be empowered to become leaders in our own right, for the path has been paved only we can choose to walk in his steps.

Please visit the 'Tribute and Tears' gallery at for more photos of Reverend Gerard Jean-Juste's memorial service.

R.I.P 'Jeri', gone but not forgotten.

Friday, May 29, 2009

John H. White

John H. White - Photojournalist

John H. White PJ Love Celebration from Jon Sall on Vimeo.



I've been so fortunate to have had incredible teachers in my life. These teachers, from kindergarden (Ms. Lyons), and all the way up to college, have all pushed me to do better. One of these teachers has and still is teaching me about life is, Pulitzer Prize Winner  John H. White Staff Photographer for the Chicago Sun-Times, who will be celebrating his 40th anniversary as a staffer in Chicago this summer. John also taught Photojournalism Classes at Chicago's Columbia College and has done so for the past 30+ years. But not anymore, Photojournalism course may be offered in Columbia's upcoming fall semester but John H. White will not be teaching. This news puzzled me, why is JHW not teaching? Is he retiring? Is John working on a long-term project which may conflict with his course schedule. I was trying to rationalize and bring some sort of logic to this, only to find out from John himself that his not teaching was not by his choice.  Such sad news, from a man so willing to share his wisdom and knowledge about his life experiences. But I continue I wanted to share how I came to John's class.


Back in spring semester of 1991 at Columbia College I had signed up for Thursday night course at Columbia College called "Photojournalism 1". I was a Fine Art Photography Major at the school at the time and my program required that you take classes outside of your field of study and Photojournalism was one of these and 'thank-god' for this because I would of never of met the man who was about to change my life.  I had no previous knowledge of the teacher (John), I was not aware that he had won probably every major award in photojournalism to date, and I didn't know he working at my hometown newspaper The Chicago Sun-Times.  That night all I remembered was a very humble man walking in and introduce himself to his students. I was shocked because I had seen this man before, I had seen him on the CTA bus, specifically the 60 Blue Island Ave/26th line that took me downtown to school. John was on Chicago Sun-Times' Ads all over the bus and subway billboards that went like this. ('Power, Passion & Emotion in a blink of an Eye'  photographs you can see taken by John H. White, everyday in your Chicago Sun-Times). I had seen that ad countless of times back and forth riding public transportation. I was kinda shocked to see him standing there before me in class and wondering why was he teaching when he has a job already, was he broke and needed the money? I was in college remember I had no money and my world perspective was very limited in 1991.


Looking back he didn't so much teach about photojournalism, but he taught more about finding yourself, expressing those ideas feelings thru your camera and putting it on 36 frames of film, then onto a printed picture. He would then critique these prints in class find details you had overlooked and pushed each and everyone of his students to strive for greater and better photographs for next week's class. Funny I can't remember anyone of my other instructors at Columbia College being to excited about their student's work or looking forward to next's weeks class. 


I would come to realize that John taught because he LOVED too, and not for any monetary compensation. He already had a very demanding job working at a daily newspaper, he would then turn around and teach 2-classes a semester at Columbia College for student like me. Wow, that is true dedication, so rare to find in any profession. Because of John I changed majors, and I graduated as a photojournalism from Columbia College and began working for the very same newspaper my teacher and mentor was at. The very same place that ran ads on the bus, Chicago Sun-Times. I was still a John H. White student, not just in photojournalism but in life. 

This 2009 fall semester Columbia College will be offering a Photojournalism 1 course, but John H. White will not be the instructor.  I'm sad for John, but I'm also sad for the future photojournalism students at the school, who will never get a chance to experience John's course.  They will only hear about how Columbia once had one of the Premier Photojournalist in the Country and they let him go.




Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Columbia College Alumni of the Year 2009

A final note on a remarkable career


I can't remember the first time I met John H. White. I think I was 6 or 7. All I remember is a photograph that was taken a long time ago in a building that isn't there anymore with people who have moved on to bigger and better things since then.


My Uncle was a staff photographer at the Chicago Sun-Times then. Then I didn't know anything about newspapers other than A. My Uncle worked at one, and B. His co-workers were really funny and nice.


About 14 years later I took the most important class of my college career at Columbia, simply titled PJ1.


I'd heard about the class from my uncle, an alum of John White's life course. 



In that class he showed my class a glimpse of not just photography, nor just photojournalism, but true life stories of remarkable people that we all too often deem ordinary. 


He was open, he was caring, and most of all, he was accepting.


You could bring in fine art photographs and pin them to the wall and he would not judge, and that's something I can't say for the rest of the photography dept.


He inspired 17 people, opened up all of our eyes and showed us love. He talked to us, took an interest in our lives and understood what was thrown our way.


I'll never forget how he stayed after class and helped out one student during an extremely difficult time, during which she could not complete her assignments for that week.


And that kindness was not limited to just one person. He showed it to everyone.


John White has had a remarkable career, and while his Pulitzers and professional achievements are something to be noted and lauded, for me his personal triumphs and open heart is something that will stay with me longer than his amazing photographs.


He will be missed in the Columbia community and a new generation of photographers will never miss him the way his past students have. 


And that's the thing I'm most sorry about.


Mauricio Rubio 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Dream of Excellence

It is difficult to find a single journalist who does not dream of winning a coveted Pulitzer Prize. To win it, is to join an elite group of journalists. It is the Oscars of print news industry.

However, it is as difficult to have dedicated one's passion, work, and life to the single purpose of excellence in an industry which has lost its way and, for the most part, is barely able to sustain its existence with each passing day.

Miami Herald staff photojournalist Patrick Farrell has found a way bring excellence and prestige into a newsroom that often wept from lost rather from joy and jubilation. Farrell has worked at his hometown paper since 1987. Married with two children, Farrell has visited the island of Haiti several times and has produced some of the strongest visual statements about the nation and its people.

Surrounded by his wife, children, parents, and colleagues, Farrell did what came natural,he gave credit to others rather than himself. He asked that the suffering and plight of Haiti be not forgotten, and with that unselfish act he thanked his colleague, the veteran journalist Jacqueline Charles, and members of the Miami Herald photojournalism staff.

It would have been fine to just to have stop there, but Farrell did not because the story would not have been complete.

Standing aside, Luis Rios,the director of photography, quietly listened with pride. Like Farrell, he also shares the dream of excellence and the passion of visual storytelling. Farrell credits Rios for lighting the fire underneath him, giving him the critical guidance and leadership to produce the award-winning body of work. Rios has done this two times before at the Washington Post, and now has delivered on the promise of bringing great visual journalism and accolades to the Miami Herald.

For Farrell's sacrifices, he has been bestowed with the highest award in journalism.

For Rios' vision, passion, and excellence, well, he will be leaving the Miami Herald on April 24th, due to job cuts.

Iris PhotoCollective would like to salute two great journalists, Luis Rios, special projects manager and photo editor of Iris PhotoCollective, and Patrick Farrell. Thank you both for not giving up on your dreams, and allowing us to share in your excellence.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Recession Chronicles: Bonus Track

BREAKING: Inquirer CEO Tierney Got Bonus Before Bankruptcy

Though the company teetered on the verge of bankruptcy at the time, this past December Philadelphia Media Holdings awarded bonuses to CEO Brian P. Tierney, vice president of finance Richard Thayer and Daily News publisher Mark Frisby.

PMH board chair Bruce Toll confirmed bonuses of $350,000 for Tierney and $150,000 each for Thayer and Frisby in a phone conversation on Friday. Reached by phone, Frisby told Philadelphia, “The numbers are wrong. But I’m not going to give you a number.”

Frisby refused to comment any further.

Tierney did not immediately return phone calls requesting a comment for this story.

Thayer could not be reached by e-mail for a comment.

Toll had first told Philadelphia that no bonuses had been awarded when asked earlier this week, but agreed to look into the matter. Today he said the bonuses had in fact been paid.

“I forgot,” he said. “I’m involved with something like 20 companies, and [when Philadelphia first called] you were asking me to remember what happened in December. But when I asked around, some other board members reminded me we had approved the bonuses.”

PMH filed for bankruptcy in February. Toll, of the homebuilding Toll Brothers company, confirmed that the PMH board knew the company¹s fiscal situation was dire. “The financial condition of the papers was obviously not good,” said Toll. “We knew what was going to happen sooner or later.”

So why give out $650,000 in bonuses? “We thought it was deserved,” he said. “But we can’t get into the details because we’re involved in bankruptcy proceedings.”

It had earlier been revealed that Tierney received a raise in December, just before Christmas, boosting his pay roughly 40 percent to $850,000. The company initially defended the raise, which was revealed in its bankruptcy filing, by saying that Tierney had taken on extra responsibilities since his initial deal had been struck.

Tierney gave up the raise shortly after it was revealed. Frisby and Thayer simultaneously gave back smaller raises. Now comes news of the bonuses, which were awarded just two months after the company’s unions voted to postpone $25-a-week raises for each of its members at the request of PMH.

UPDATE: Saturday morning, Bruce Toll called back and left a voice mail message saying he is not actually sure of the bonus amounts.

Brian Tierney still has not returned phone calls requesting a comment. — Steve Volk

Referencing a remark by Jon Stewart of the state of today seems appropriate. “Where is the outrage? Other countries would be rioting in the streets – but our country sends out emails in “CAPITAL LETTERS.”

Bonus Track

A Silent Epidemic

We awake momentarily.
Bored, our eyes close as we drift
back to sleep.
Vulnerable, the devil sharpens the knife’s edge
of complacency
Creating the United States of Amnesia

Peter Tobia
Penns Landing, Philadelphia

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Recession Chronicles: Peter Tobia

Peter Tobia has been a photojournalist for 25 years working most recently at the Philadelphia Inquirer where he covered local, national and international assignments for 15 years. He produced photographic essays from Somalia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, East Africa and Iraq. He is currently freelancing and is based in Philadelphia metropolitan area.


Newspapers across the country need their own G summit, convention, etc., and agree on one thing: All newspapers will charge a fee for going online to newspaper websites. If people want to read the news online than they should have to pay for it. Newspapers need to stop wasting time and move on and take responsibility for where they are going instead of standing idly by and watching the walk to the slaughterhouse. Newspapers prided themselves on giving voice to those who had none. Telling the story of the little guy. Now newspapers are the little guy and they are silent. If newspaper people believe in what they do they need to shout loud so they are heard. They need to get out of the newsroom and into the streets.

Old City, Philadelphia, Peter Tobia 3/6/09


The early years. On fire!
Tumbling through stars
a million miles away into another universe, looking to stop time while trusting the map of intuition and passion.
Never thinking of the ending, only the moment; decisive, fleeting, unbroken.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

IRIS RISING: University of Southern Mississippi Photojournalism Workshop

The University of Southern Mississippi Photojournalism Workshop took place over the weekend and was organized and directed by Clarence Williams, Iris PhotoCollective co-founder and head of University of Southern Mississippi's photojournalism department. Iris PhotoCollective photographers André Chung, Carl Juste, and Pablo Martínez Monsívaís rounded out the instructors. 

Pablo Martínez works with students.

Starting with four college and five high school students, the workshop concentrated on engaging students in the visual language of photography and advancing the strong ethics of photojournalism.

Among the high school students, Raymond High School junior Sadie Carrillo produced a standout photo essay on race relations at her predominately black public high school. The thoughtful portraits are especially poignant when paired with the quotes of her young subjects.

photo by Sadie Carrillo

USM photojournalism major Eli Baylis stepped up with a powerful story of an undocumented Mexican immigrant and his family as they wait to find out his disposition. James Cortez (an alias) was caught in a sweep of undocumented workers at Howard Industries that saw 600 people detained, and now faces deportation.

photo by Eli Baylis

We will update you with a link to their work as soon as the gallery is posted. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Iris Rising

In 2009 and beyond, Iris PhotoCollective will be participating in various international, national, and community-based events in several cities. Iris Rising will serve as a source to explore these events, to keep our friends informed and current on the where, who, and when of various Iris' endeavors.

Black Crossroads: The African Diaspora in Miami
On display March 5, 2009 to January 24, 2010
Historical Museum of Southern Florida
101 W. Flager Street, Miami, Florida 33130

Diverse groups of the African diaspora have come to settle, work and struggle for freedom in Miami since its incorporation in 1896 to the present day. In the process they have made significant political, economic and cultural contributions to the city. Black Crossroads: The African Diaspora in Miami explores the enduring presence and impact of African-Americans, Africans, black Caribbeans and black Hispanics on Miami.

The art of Iris PhotoCollective photojournalists, Andre Chung and Carl Juste, is part of this expansive and comprehensive exhibit. Andre Chung's photograph of a Haitian migrant worker dominates the large north wall creating a spacious pictorial landscape that incorporates a multi-media display within its frame.

Chung's complete attention to the nuances of Miami's diverse groups of the African diaspora is an anthropological approach to visual story telling. Keeping clear of cultural stereotypes and miscues, helps add to the depths of this exhibit and to his work.

On display in this exhibition are historic photographs, oral histories, memorabilia, film/video and artifacts related to black pioneers, families, laborers, communities and organizations spanning the over 100 history of black migrations to Miami.

Helping document South Florida's African diaspora, is one of the many highlights in Iris' participation in Black Crossroads: The African Diaspora in Miami.

So, if you are in the South Florida area and want to engage in a unique cultural experience please visit the exhibit at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida.

Take a free guided tour of the exhibition.

Free guided tours of Black Crossroads: The African Diaspora in Miami will be offered on the following dates and times:

Saturday, April 11 4 pm
Sunday, April 12 2 pm
Saturday, May 9 4 pm
Sunday, May 10 2 pm
Saturday, June 13 4 pm
Sunday, June 14 2 pm
Saturday, July 11 4 pm
Sunday, July 12 2 pm
Saturday, August 15 4 pm
Sunday, August 16 2 pm
Saturday, September 12 4 pm
Sunday, September 13 2 pm
Saturday, October 10 4 pm
Sunday, October 11, 2 pm
Saturday, November 14 4 pm
Sunday, November 15 2 pm
Saturday, December 12 4 pm
Sunday, December 13 2 pm
Saturday, January 9 4 pm
Sunday, January 10 2 pm

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Recession Chronicles

American journalism is in peril. Thousands of reporters, graphic artists,designers, writers, columnists,and photojournalists have either lost their jobs, or are in fear of joining the unemployed.

Sports blogger Rufus Dawes comments:

Newspapers have been the country’s most trusted source of news for most of our history. Between 1790 and 1800, the number of newspapers in this country increased from under 100 to over 230. By 1810 Americans were buying more than 22 million copies of 376 newspapers annually, the largest aggregate circulation of newspapers in any country in the world. (Frank Luther Mott, American Journalism: A History,1690-1960)

Today, however, is a different case as stated by the Bulldog Reporter's Daily Dog:

"In 2009 and 2010, all the two-newspaper markets will become one-newspaper markets, and you will start to see one-newspaper markets become no-newspaper markets," said Mike Simonton, a senior director at Fitch Ratings, who analyzes the industry, reports Times writer Richard Perez-Pena.

Many critics and competitors of newspapers — including online start-ups that have been hailed as the future of journalism — say that no one should welcome their demise.

"It would be a terrible thing for any city for the dominant paper to go under, because that's who does the bulk of the serious reporting," said Joel Kramer, former editor and publisher of the Star Tribune and now the editor and chief executive of, an online news organization in Minneapolis. "Places like us would spring up," he told the Times, "but they wouldn't be nearly as big. We can tweak the papers and compete with them, but we can't replace them."

No one knows which will be the first big city without a large paper, but there are candidates all across the country. The Hearst Corporation, which owns the Post-Intelligencer, has also threatened to close the San Francisco Chronicle, which lost more than $1 million a week last year, unless it can wring significant savings from the operation.

As our nation and the world faces this extreme downturn, what are we, those you are still working and those who have been laid off, doing to deal with this crisis? Do you have a story, anecdote, a productive insight to share about the fate of American journalism?

Are you willing to tell your own story about losing your job, getting a new one,or starting a new life outside journalism? How is this recession going to change our democracy, the 4th Estate, our standard of living?

How do we hold the government, the private sector, and other institutions that form our democracy accountable?

Join us to tell these stories of struggle and triumph. Do you have a solution? How have you triumphed? How do you plan to survive?

The Recession Chronicles is a multi-media diary. Submit a video, a photograph, or an essay that can help us all understand this crisis and its effects in personal terms. Each entry or comment should have a dateline followed by the author's name and current employment status. You can choose to remain anonymous, but no character assassinations, please. If anyone chooses to name names then the author's name must be released.

Best of luck to all.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Covering Obama's address to Congress

Iris PhotoCollective member, Pablo Martínez Monsívaís covered President Barack Obama's address to the joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. As an Associated Press staffer, he had the difficult responsibility of pool photographer, meaning that he was the only still shooter allowed on the floor, and that his photos would supply newspapers all over the world. 

Washington, D.C. based photographer, John Harrington produced this video for his blog, PhotoBusiness News & Forum. It features interviews with Pablo, New York Times photographer Doug Mills, and USA Today photographer H. Darr Beiser, on how they covered the speech for their publications. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Miami Heart Gallery

The photographers of Iris PhotoCollective were among a select group tapped to participate in the Children's Trust Miami Heart Gallery, a traveling exhibit that showcases foster children in need of adoption.  More than 70 children in Miami-Dade's foster care system who are available for adoption are featured in the exhibit. More info on the Miami Heart Gallery can be found at

To see video from Channel 4 in Miami and learn more about the project click here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A New Era

Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States last Tuesday, and has been received as a champion by people throughout the country and all over the world. No change of leadership in modern history has engendered so much hope and enthusiasm with so many people. He is  truly representative of change, of a new paradigm as the world moves forward in the 21st century. His presidency comes at a time when the world is in crisis, at a critical point, and despite our uncertainties about our own futures, we are all fortunate to bear witness to this hour in history.

Iris PhotoCollective photographers were there throughout the Inaugural weekend. Pablo Martínez Monsívais covered it for the Associated Press, Carl Juste was assigned by McClatchy
 News Service, and André Chung and Clarence Williams photographed for the Inaugural Committee's Official Inaugural Book. You can learn more about the book project at Following are some of their thoughts and photos and a larger gallery of work can be viewed in the gallery named 44 at the Iris PhotoCollective website. Go to to see more images.

Pablo Martínez Monsívaís: In our lives there aren't many 'firsts' that you can say you were witness to, days you will look back on and tell your grandchildren about...

'I was there when...'

Last Tuesday was one of those day that, probably, later when I recount the story, I'm going to forget how cold, windy and long my day turned out to be. Instead I'm going to remember how wonderful I felt to watch the events unfold, amazed at the spirit and drive our country is capable of achieving. With 2 million people attending, (the population of D.C., is 500,000), our whole country and the rest of the world had their collective eyes focused on the Capital. In other cities and countries, crowds this size are reserved for sporting or religious events. But not this day and not here. We as a country came out in a record numbers to take part in the peaceful transition of democracy. A democracy copied by some, and envied by many because of our capacity to continue to grow and adapt, to change our leaders peacefully without having a coup. In the end this was just AMAZING, plain and simple.

'I remember when I saw the President.'

This was the third inauguration I've covered - each one a bit different, and my assignments for those days as various as the circumstances surrounding the elections. On January 20, 2001, I covered protesters on foot in downtown D.C. who attempted to disrupt the inauguration festivities along the parade route. Back then, we had not yet experienced the attacks of 9/11, and in retrospect those opposing the outcome of the election were fairly calm. 

In 2005, I followed President Bush as a member of the travel pool, on a flatbed truck in his motorcade. While waiting to snap a picture of him walking down Pennsylvania Ave., there were raw eggs being thrown at his vehicle. The crowd looked much more hostile, causing members of the Secret Service to surround the limo and speed up their pace. People came out that day to show their displeasure for Bush's handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

'Tell us again what happened on that election night in Chicago? '

I was in Chicago on November 4th to witness the election of Obama, and the city's celebration of a South Side Senator's elevation into the most powerful office in the world. I smiled when I snapped photos, perched from a riser with the longest piece of Canon glass I have ever used, because I am from the South Side and like Barack, I am also a White Sox fan. That's corny I know, but I can't make this up. I looked around at the people in Grant Park, the different faces, ages and genders, and America was looking back at me celebrating. People hugging, smiling and a whole bunch of them crying.

Welcome to a brand new day.

'I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm clock to a house full of friends.'

I'm always going to remember where I was on Tuesday, January 20th, 2008, or Inauguration Day. I keep reminding myself that I had witnessed 43 greeting 44 at 1600 Penn. -translation from DC-Speak -outgoing President George W. Bush shaking hands with incoming President Barack Obama at the White House. It was something I'd never seen before in my 15-plus years as a photojournalist - and mind you, I've seen a lot in my career. Here I was watching the transition of the Presidency of the US. I remember reading about this in countless history classes in school, but reading it is one thing, watching it happen ten feet away is completely different. Seeing Obama and Bush pose with the First Ladies at the North Portico of the White House I was reminded how normal both couples looked. What I mean is, our country has no kings - we elect regular people to be our leaders, and on January 20, 2009 the country watched as a man by the name of Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America.

André Chung: I can't be happier about the way the country has turned around. Even though the economy continues to churn down the drain and we have a laundry list of problems we have to overcome, we've collectively managed to point ourselves in the right direction. 

I'm most choked up about what this means for the younger generation in this country. 
I have a daughter in high school and a son in middle school, and I find it breathtaking that to them, a black
president has just become normal. My children, our children, have really stepped into a new age. Although I've heard some cynical jokes about this, I think it's truly remarkable that at a time when things are so bleak and dismal, the American
 people would choose a black man to lead them home. 

My mother always told me and my siblings that we had to be twice as good as white folks to get the same distance. I know many of you reading this have been told the same by your parents. If my mother was right, then Obama would be twice as good as any president we've had. 

Carl Juste:  In my 20-plus years of photojournalism, I have never requested, demanded, or displayed ownership to any assignment.  I generally took a relaxed attitude
and a leap of faith that my work ethic, talent, and reputation would be suffice securing prized assignments.  Then came the Inauguration.  For the first time I felt I needed to
be there.  It did not matter in what capacity my talents would be used.  I just wanted to see and experience the inauguration for my father, my family, my friends, and mostly for myself.  I wanted to see, hear, and feel the moment with my own senses , no filters.

Clarence Williams: I wish our new President filled me with warm feelings and hope for a bright future. Unfortunately for me he doesn’t. I was excited on election night and the morning of the 5th. When I opened my local paper the next morning and realized that one of my collective mate’s images expressed our country’s joy, I was overwhelmed. I called him and left a tearful message thanking him. 

Soon after, reality crept back into my little world.

I’m proud of our President and happy for him. I have yet to rush out and buy a flag. I do not see that happening. All my let downs, pains and regrets are still the same.

I do not see any fewer Rebel flags where I travel on a regular basis. If I’m shot, chances are it will be by some equally angry Negro teenager.

I remain on edge. I’m still reading my Baldwin and Wright on a regular basis. I’m still angry.

In one way our new President has changed my life around. I use to be depressed and miserable. Now, I’m miserable and depressed.

In the meantime, as I breathlessly wait for my stimulus package I remain legally strapped and spend what little free time I have at the range or in the gym tossing iron plates around.