Landing a Newspaper Job; Cameraman Tells All

Some of my favorite “newsroom scenes” in old radio shows involve a young reporter trying to land a job. Here’s the first of a couple of episodes where the job-hunter is a would-be photojournalist.

This 1947 “Crime Photographer” episode put the camera itself in the headline: “The Camera Bug.” It opens with a grumpy Casey trying to warn a young photo supply shop employee away from a photojournalism career, since he already has a wife and a regular job.

He’s “kid” to Casey, although he’s already 21. Their dialogue includes an “all you hear on the radio…” hint that the producers of “Crime Photographer” had feedback from young camera-handlers who wanted a career with as much excitement as Casey’s.

Casey: “My advice is forget it. This is the lousiest game there is. You’re out at all hours. People shove you around. You can risk your hide to get a good shot, then the city desk may stick it on page 10, if it’s used at all. This is a dog’s life, kid; keep out of it…”

The Kid: “Yeah, but you get around. And you see things!”

Casey: “I guess you believe all you hear on the radio. Well, OK camera bug, here’s the only way I know how to break in. You put in about 12 hours a day on the streets, with your eyes open and your camera ready, and occasionally you’ll get a news picture you can sell. If you’re lucky, you may get a real hot shot  you can trade to a city editor for a full-time job. But you’ve got to be lucky. That’s all I can tell you.”

Right after his speech about how demanding news photography can be, Casey heads off to meet his reporter pal Annie for a mid-afternoon beer.

But by the end of the half-hour, the story is about how the young photographer’s skill with depth of focus, a small f-stop and fine grain developer — and Casey’s eye for detail — turn up photographic evidence of yet another murder.

But is it enough to land the kid a job? For that, you’ll have to listen to the story.

(For another approach to landing a newspaper job, see Casey’s own first interview as presented in the film “Here’s Flash Casey.” There’s a clip the top of my Crime Photographer overview page.  The whole movie is downloadable at the Internet Archive. This cinema Flash is based on the same pulp novels as radio’s Casey, but younger and college-educated — not that a diploma is worth much to his 1938 city editor. In fact, part of the romance of landing the job is more about who he runs into on the way to the elevator after getting his first rejection.)

Finally, if you want one more job-hunting scene, check out radio’s best known — if mild-mannered — reporter, Clark Kent, as he convinces the Daily Planet editor to give him a chance. I called this early JHeroes item “Superhero ethics versus reporter ethics.”


About Bob Stepno

mild-mannered reporter who found computers & the Web in grad school in the 1980s (Wesleyan) and '90s (UNC); taught journalism, media studies, Web production; retired to write, make music, photograph sunsets & walks in the woods.
This entry was posted in 1940s, Casey, journalism, newspapers, photographer. Bookmark the permalink.

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