Pulitzer-winning photojournalist resigns rather than lay off staff

Dayton Business Journal
Dayton Daily News photo editor Larry Price resigned earlier this week after being asked to lay off half his photo staff, reports Ginger Christ. In his note to the photo staff, Price wrote:

I do not believe the layoffs are fair to you as individuals or that they are in the best interest of the Dayton Daily news and our readers. If these cuts are enacted, it will be impossible to meet the Cox initiatives for covering breaking news, sharing content with our media partners and growing our online presence.”

The 35-year veteran — whose photos won Pulitzers in 1981 and 1985 — told Christ he’s seen “massive changes in the company’s attitude toward photography.”

The seminal moment for him occurred earlier this year after he shot a photograph of a girl with tears in her eyes at a candlelight vigil in west Dayton. The photo, he was told, was too emotional.

“The new prerogative, as it was explained to me, was to dumb down the photo report, to pull back and show crowd photographs,” Price said.

At that point, Price said he realized there was a mandate to stop producing sophisticated visual content.

And, for a photojournalist who won a Pulitzer first for his coverage of the 1980 coup in Liberia and then for a body of work documenting civil wars in Angola and El Salvador, “that was the turning point.”

Related comment from Pat Curry: “It’s happening all over. My husband, John Curry, a 34-year veteran photojournalist and three-time Pulitzer nominee, was laid off from his job last month as visuals director at the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle. Rather than take a position from one of his staff (which he was offered), he took the layoff himself.” | Related tweet from Chris Lopez, executive editor of El Paso Times and ElPasoTimes.com, says he’s “done a similar thing in past.”

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  • Anonymous

    Faculty members at the Missouri School of Journalism have done research that shows that quality content drives revenue for a newspaper. It’s probably on the J School’s website. Staff cuts that result in less quality work — and even great journalists can’t do great work when they have too much to do — will only hasten the failure of the company doing the cutting.

  • Anonymous

    Hard choices? Companies must be profitable yes; but can lose big when they have a talent drain. I read the DDN. The only major daily that Dayton has. It also has an amazing investigative staff that is not used to it’s fullest. The paper is becoming more of a joke as time goes on. Would they be better off with more DIY type of journalists. I don’t know but I do know your link is no longer good!

  • Anonymous

    While it’s a wonderful gesture on his part, don’t be surprised if they go ahead with the planned layoffs anyway and consider his resignation a financial bonus.

  • http://twitter.com/ForSocialGood Najlah Feanny Hicks

    Support Larry Price and the rest of the journalists who take a stand and walk away from their jobs rather than sacrifice their journalistic integrity. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Journalists-Speak-Out/187269311341472

  • Anonymous

    This is the problem in the grown-up world: there are hard choices. Companies must be profitable to continue existing so something has to go. Also, no acknowledgement that perhaps the role of photo editors is dramatically changing given the rise of an amateur class that’s doing some pretty good work with comparable equipment (see http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/business/media/30photogs.html). Maybe newspaper photo editors will turn in curators of public photography that is periodically augmented with professionals? Things evolve and throwing up your hands in protest isn’t going to stop that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Kovarik/31210409 Bill Kovarik

    “The photo, he was told, was too emotional.”  

    OMG.  That’s like saying the story was too well written.  Or the graphics were too well designed.  Or the broccoli is too fresh, and if we put out fresh broccoli all the time, customers will expect it.

    Hey…  That foot is too unshot.    

    Laughing through the weirdness.   

  • http://twitter.com/smoothjazznmore Smooth

    Unfortunately, when you have investment bankers, or as I call them ”bean-counters” running the show, there’s no surprize the industry and the country is in the position it’s in today!

  • http://twitter.com/SpaceyG SpaceyG

    Cox Media Plantation – just not all that interested in being the best media they can be. 

  • http://www.pat-curry.com/ Pat Curry

    It’s happening all over. My husband, John Curry, a 34-year veteran photojournalist and three-time Pulitzer nominee, was laid off from his job last month from his job as visuals director at the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle. Rather than take a position from one of his staff (which he was offered), he took the layoff himself. At the time, his staff had been honored by the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar and one of his staffers, Michael Holahan, is this year’s Photographer of the Year (Small Markets). 
    He has since done one freelance assignment for AP (for which they have yet to even send him the paperwork to get paid, despite repeated requests). Our health insurance runs out today. 
    The good news is that he’s now pursuing his second passion, roasting coffee. Check it out at http://www.buonacaffe.com. 
    Pat Curry