CNN’s Firing of 50 Workers

Posted on December 2, 2011


Something reported earlier this week because their positions are redundant. Hmm… let us take a closer look at this. When you look at a memo sent to the Hollywood Reporter by CNN VP Jack Womack, and it becomes clearer. After a three year review, CNN’s management determined that amateur reporters were cheaper – they work for free and don’t require benefits. The message that should be received from this message is that sure, you can do reports for free so that you, too, won’t ever have any income from what you are doing as a photographer or reporter. To me, this is very offensive to me personally and shows some of what is the problem with business today.

As a photographer, we are so often given the “opportunity” to work for free for “exposure” or “credit” or “more paid work later.” I get one or two of these requests per day. Of the “real” photographers I associate, we all find asking for free images like this very offensive, too. On the other hand, people who want to be “photographers” with their names in papers or magazines jump at this opportunity because they believe they get some kind of exposure and maybe will land them a paying job in the future. Unfortunately, this only cannibalizes the people who do quality work and forces them to find work doing something else.  I could even make a jump to the conclusion that some of the photographers and reporters that are getting arrested are because they are participants because of this mentality (something being discussed avidly within photo journalist circles-were they participants and if so, should they be protected like an unbiased photo journalist).

As I indicated above, this is a bad move by business. We see that “redundancy” and “efficiency” mean that they expect people to do hard work for free. They have become a parasitic business model of exploitation. This work means so much that there isn’t a budget to pay anyone or support them. If they aren’t paid, then one has to ask if they are really photo journalists deserving press cards. It also begs if those individuals have the appropriate insurance coverage and business licenses. If they don’t, will CNN ever do anything to help the individuals if things go horribly wrong while they are covering CNNs work? With CNN’s decision, they have inexplicably and unequivocally said, “NO!” Instead of “free”, they should be working to build mutually beneficial and productive relationships with professionals. Professionals have spent time, money, and effort perfecting their craft to produce quality material for their clients. Instead, CNN has blatently said that this time, money, and effort are worthless. This is a selfish attitude that others will end up paying – either directly or indirectly.

My heart also goes out to those individuals who are pouring their soul into providing content to CNN and how they are being taken advantage.