Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz has done a tremendous job turning around his hockey franchise. Yes, he says they’re still not turning a profit, but their rise from obscurity to local front-runner franchise is quite astounding. How many of you were actually Blackhawks fans in 2008? Wirtz has increased revenue, visibility and interest remarkably these past five years.
As a Chicago Sun-Times investor, can Rocky Wirtz do a similar job with the newspaper?
The Sun-Times Guild is taking action Saturday night at Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final in hopes that he will. The Guild, along with volunteers of Firefighters Union Local 2, will be leafleting outside the United Center between 6:15 and 7:15 p.m.
The protestors want Rocky Wirtz to convince Michael Ferro and Tim Knight to rehire all the fired and award winning Sun-Times photographers, and sign a fair contract with the Guild to restore wages and working conditions for professional journalists who care about journalistic integrity.
I talked with Chicago Newspaper Guild spokesperson Craig Rosenbaum last night.
“The Guild’s objective is to let Rocky Wirtz and Blackhawks fans know that they must demand Sun-Times management to re-hire all fired photographers. It is the photographers and video journalists who bring the Blackhawks players and the people of Chicago and its surrounding communities to life,” Rosenbaum said.
“This is not just a labor dispute. The integrity of journalism is on the line. Reporters are not trained photojournalists. Requiring reporters to report and also shoot photos and video compromises their work as reporters. Photojournalism is a trained profession. Just as you would not have janitors teach our children instead of trained and qualified teachers, news organizations cannot have unqualified individuals take photos and video,” he continued.
Mobilizers from numerous newspaper within the Sun-Times media group are involved in this event. Including: Pioneer Press, Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune, Joliet Herald News and the Naperville News Sun. The Sun-Times decision earlier this month to fire all their photographers and depend on Iphones instead has been a national punchline. The joke made it all the way to the show of Northwestern graduate Stephen Colbert.
“The Sun-Times fired all of its photographers. Who is next? Will the Sun-Times farm out its copy desk to India? Will it replace seasoned reporters with inexperienced free-lancers or so called citizen journalists?” Rosenbaum asked.
I agree. An Instagram app does not qualify as a photo department for a newspaper with the 8th highest circulation in America. Rosenbaum admires the work Rocky Wirtz has done with his team and hopes he’ll do likewise with the paper:
“Like the Blackhawks, the Chicago Sun-Times is a civic trust. Rocky Wirtz has been an exemplary owner for Chicago. In all likelihood Mr. Wirtz could have made a greater return on his money if he invested in another property besides the Hawks. Nevertheless, Rocky Wirtz knows how much the Blackhawks mean to our Chicago civic pride. So the Guild is asking him to persuade the current management and ownership to treat the Sun-Times as a civic trust and uphold the standards of journalistic integrity.”
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net. (“Quasi-endorsed” by Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly) He’s also an author who also contributes regularly to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker
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