when the media circus comes to town

There is an amazing story happening on Goose Island here in Chicago. Unfortunately the media, the politicians and other union members have ruined it.

Last Friday, 280 workers at Republic Windows and Doors lost their jobs when their factory shut down. The owners blamed the shut down on Bank of America saying that the B of A cut off their line of credit. B of A says that the factory owners are to blame. Either way the hard working employees of Republic are the ones suffering.

Instead of heading home, the workers decided to stage a sit-in at the factory until they received their vacation and severance pay. 

As a photojournalist, I imagined this as an incredible opportunity to put a face on the current economic crisis.

The problem is that a lot of others saw this as an opportunity, too. TV came and set up 10 cameras in front of the factory killing any possibility of real moments. The politicians came to get their faces on television. The unions came with two oversized Scabby the Rat inflatables to put the finishing touch on the media circus.

All I wanted to do was go inside the factory and hang out. Show what the workers were going through. Show their fear, their resolve, their spirit. However, all I was able to do was peer inside the factory front door and photograph the string of press conferences held on Hickory Avenue.

At first, I was going to share a beautiful image of a worker illuminated by tv lights as he listened in the rain to Congressman Luis Gutierrez’ announcement that negotiations would continue on Tuesday but after writing this I realized that it wasn’t reality. It was a made for television moment.

So instead, here is the closest thing I got to reality yesterday- several workers and their children waiting out the impasse.

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2 Responses to “when the media circus comes to town”

  1. Sounds like you had a very noble and difficult mission with this photo essay. I would still be intrigued to see the other shot of the face illuminated by tv cameras, maybe it would be a good commentary on the whole situation?

  2. It’s amazing how media presence can change a message and a moment. Realizing you’re a part of the media, too, I will applaud you for seeking out the real moments and for the difficult task it must be to find show the depth of emotions and lives affected by something like this, especially when surrounded by artificial lights, television cameras and dramatic broadcast journalists. Still photographers, photojournalists in particular, have a powerful way of portraying the world, something much more powerful, in my opinion, than a television newscast could ever claim. Nice job.

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