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 MinnPost.com, 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.