News Archive

Photojournalist's brother killed in fire

Tragedy struck the family of freelance photojournalist David Sokol, an NPPA member based in Wakefield, MA, on Wednesday December 17, when a two-alarm fire destroyed Sokol's parents' home and killed his 16-year-old brother Peter, who was the youngest of eight children. The fire left the family, who are well known in the Wakefield community where they've lived with their children for twenty years, homeless and without possessions. Peter, a Wakefield High School junior, was one of eight children of Laurie and Steven Sokol.

Sokol rushed to the scene Wednesday when he received a page to cover a house fire while on assignment for the Wakefield Daily Item. It turned out to be his family's home. Toni Carolina, a photographer for Massachusetts Community Newspaper Company, arrived at the scene shortly after Sokol. "David said when he got the page he was praying that the number of the house was wrong," Carolina said. "He was in shock when I got there. They lost everything."

According to a story in the Boston Herald, fire investigators suspect that Peter Sokol was playing with a flammable liquid in the back yard of the home and accidentally caught himself on fire. The story says Wakefield police believe that he panicked and ran into the house for help, catching the house on fire in the process. Siblings who were home at the time ran outside calling for help, witnesses said. Firefighters found the youth's body in the living room of the home two hours later after the fire was extinguished. The structure was destroyed, leaving the family with nothing.

Peter Rossi, who is editor of the Daily Item in Wakefield, told News Photographer that Peter delivered the Daily Item at one time and that his sister, Jennifer, is currently one of their newspaper carriers. Rossi also said that David began his photographic career with the Daily Item and that his photographs appear in several of the area's publications now, including the Wakefield newspaper.

A fund to assist the family has been established by the Daily Item at The Savings Bank in Wakefield. According to Rossi, the current goal is to meet the family's immediate needs such as housing, clothing and food. The Savings Bank is also accepting donations of food, clothing and gift certificates. "Peter's parents will have direct access to the fund," Rossi said, "and the bank is also accepting donations of food, clothing, and gift certificates."

Contributions can be sent to:
The Peter Sokol Memorial Fund
c/o The Savings Bank
PO Box 30
Wakefield, MA 01880

John Cornell Wins Run-Off Election

NPPA National Secretary T.C. Baker announced today (December 22, 2003) that John Cornell has won the special run-off election to fill the vacant position of NPPA Past President on the Executive Committee. "The votes have been counted and verified," Baker said, "and the results are John Cornell, 13; Manny Sotelo, 7." Baker said one ballot was cast after the voting deadline and that one board member did not vote. "Both candidates have been notified and are aware of the results," Baker said in an eMail to the Board.

The run-off election became necessary when the first balloting ended with 8 votes for Sotelo, 7 votes for Cornell, and 5 votes for David Handschuh. NPPA Bylaws call for the winner to be a "majority vote of the Board of Directors," and Roberts Rules defines majority vote as "more than half." The vacancy on the EC was created by the resignation of NPPA Immediate Past President Michael D. Sherer.


Run-Off Election Necessary

NPPA National Secretary T.C. Baker reports today that ballots to fill the vacant position of NPPA Past President have been counted and results verified. The vote totals created the need for a special run-off election that will be held immediately.

NPPA bylaws call for the winner to be a "majority vote of the Board of Directors." Roberts Rules defines a majority vote as "more than half." None of the candidates had enough votes to satisfy the definition of a "majority" of the twenty votes cast. Of the 22 Board members eligible to vote, 20 voted and 2 abstained.

The votes were Manny Sotelo, 8; John Cornell, 7; David Handschuh, 5.

"To fill the position fairly with a majority vote and to follow the bylaws, there will now be a run-off election between candidates Manny Sotelo and John Cornell," T.C. Baker informed the Board.

Only Board members are eligible to vote. A new ballot will be sent to Board members Tuesday morning, December 16. Board members have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, December 19, to cast their run-off ballot. The National Secretary will certify the vote at that time.

If you have questions please contact your Regional Director or Associate Director.




Sherer Resigns From Executive Committee

NPPA Immediate Past President and Executive Committee member Michael D. Sherer resigned from the Executive Committee on November 24 in protest of their vote to go forward with a bank application for a line of credit. "This does not mean that I am giving up on the NPPA," Sherer wrote. "I will remain an active participant as long as anyone will have me. For what it might be worth, I just had to make this change in my service. I hope you all understand."A special election is being held this week to replace Sherer on the EC. Only Board members are eligible to vote on the replacement. If you have questions, please submit them to your Regional Director or Associate Director.Sherer posted this eMail to the EC and Board of Directors online: "It is with a deep sense of sadness that I submit my resignation from the EC. After tonight's vote to go forward with a $100,000 line of credit application to cover the devastation of our reserve fund, I can no longer support the direction that the leadership is taking."

Sherer resigned only from the EC, not the NPPA.


AP appoints three new photo chiefs

The Associated Press has named Santiago Lyon as its new Director of Photography to replace Vin Alabiso, an AP vice president who was appointed director of global business development/photos last August. Two senior photo managers in New York, J. David Ake and Michael Feldman, were also appointed as deputy directors of photography. The announcement came from AP senior vice president and executive editor Kathleen Carroll, who will be Lyon's new boss.

Lyon is a well-known and respected photojournalist with two decades of experience covering news and sports around the world. He worked for Reuters and UPI covering stories in Mexico, Central and South America, the 1991 Gulf War, Croatia, Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, Israel, Palestine, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Rwanda, Yemen, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. In 1995, while on assignment in Sarajevo, he was wounded by mortar shrapnel.

Santiago joined AP in 1991 in Cairo, Egypt. He was the AP's photography editor for Spain and Portugal from 1995 until this year, when he accepted a Nieman Fellowship for one year at Harvard University. The Nieman post continues until June. Carroll said that Ake and Feldman begin their new posts immediately and will be joined by Lyon this summer.

Feldman has worked for AP for almost half of his thirty-year career, including running AP's London-based international photography operations. Ake has twenty years experience in photojournalism and most recently has run AP's national photo coverage.


December Deadline Approaching For NPPA-Nikon Sabbatical Entries

Bill Luster, chairperson of the annual NPPA-Nikon Sabbatical program, reminds photojournalists that the entry deadline for the 2004 NPPA-Nikon Sabbatical competition is December 28, 2003, and that's quickly approaching.

Luster has seen a lot of proposals during his stewardship of the Sabbatical. "The good ones stand out immediately. A lot of people get tossed out of the competition early because they have not followed the rules, because they have not done enough research, and because they have poor photographs -- and especially poor captions -- in their proposals."

From his years of stewardship of the Sabbatical, Luster offers his personal lists of do's and don't's for entering the Sabbatical:

  • Read and follow the rules. Do not send your entries on a CD. You must send prints or printed material that does not exceed 8 1/2 x 11. Copy machine prints and materials are encouraged, as are duplicate slides.

  • Have a well-researched proposal on the topic "The Changing Face of America." Back up your proposal with facts and figures. Clearly show the reason why this proposal follows the Sabbatical's theme, and how your photographs will enlighten readers about the subject.

  • Provide details on how you plan to execute the project. If possible, present a budget plan on how you will spend the $15,000 stipend that comes with winning.

  • Have portfolio photos that exhibit excellent compositional and aesthetic quality and commitment to content.

  • If you have already started shooting on the proposal topic, be sure to include these pictures in your presentation.

  • Proofread the proposal. Grammatical errors and misspellings convey sloppiness. From the judges' perspective this competition is about 75 percent proposal oriented and 25 percent photo oriented.

  • Write thoughtful captions for your photographs. Include the basic necessary information as well as any additional information that will enhance the caption and the judges' understanding of your images.

  • Make the deadline. No entries will be accepted after the deadline of December 28, 2003.


Regional Election Results

The results of the Regional elections for odd numbered regions are in and T.C. Baker, NPPA national secretary and EC member, has verified the vote. For the first time in NPPA history the election was held online with only two members requesting paper ballots. The polling closed at 9pm Eastern time Sunday, November 30. Newly elected regional officers will assume their duties January 1, 2004, and their new contact information will be posted online in the Regional officer's directory at that time. Here are the winners and vote totals:

Region 1DirectorSean Elliot101
Michelle McLoughlin2
Bob Thayer1
John Walker1
Associate DirectorMichelle McLoughlin43
Keith Nordstrom33
Jamison Bazinet16
Todd Ziemek16
John Walker1
Region 3DirectorLinda Epstein148
Robert Michaud19
Associate DirectorJim Caiella97
Barry Reeger69
Matt Rainey1
Region 5DirectorRon Stover61
Lloyd Young43
Devin Miller3
Mark Hertzberg1
Greg Shaver1
Associate DirectorGreg Shaver59
Vince Munyon49
Region 7DirectorPatricia Holloway43
Jeff Stead19
Teak Phillips1
Charlie Riedel1
Associate DirectorJeff Roberts47
Ben Krain17
Region 9DirectorRay Meints58
Todd Hougaard6
Associate DirectorEric Blumer37
Scot Kingsley25
Laura Inns1
Doug Van Reeth1
Region 11DirectorTony Overman53
Chris Pietsch15
Associate DirectorKurt Austin37
Russ Kendall32
Chapters' Board RepresentativeDennis Tennant2

College Scholarships Available From NPPF

 If you're a full time college photojournalism student, or are returning to college to finish a photojournalism degree, it's not too early to start apply for National Press Photographer Foundation scholarship awards. The deadline for all applications is March 1 each year.

NPPF scholarship awards are given to encourage those who have talent and dedication to photojournalism and who need financial help to continue their studies. One scholarship is reserved exclusively for a photojournalist pursuing an advanced degree.

There are multiple annual scholarships available for still and television photojournalists and they are all administered by the NPPF, a foundation associated with the NPPA. For complete rules and information, portfolio, and application details, see 


NPPA Budget Moves: Membership Expectations/Todd Stricker

by Todd Stricker

Pretty much all of us hate it when it comes time to tackle our budgets, but at some point we do it. We make projections based on history and future expectations but we don't always get it right. That is the position we find ourselves in at NPPA at the moment. We didn't get it right and we haven't for the last few years, due partly to the economy and partly to overly optimistic projections. But the bottom line is that we got it wrong. We find ourselves short on cash and we have made some changes to address the issue.

We have eliminated two staff positions in the national office in the last six months and have found other areas to cut. One of those is the way we produce the Best of Photojournalism book. In the past the BOP book has gone through changes ranging from paper quality to whether it has a hard or soft cover. This year we are incorporating it into a greatly expanded issue of News Photographer magazine in January 2004. It will be the largest issue ever for the magazine, but not what we've come to expect in the book. It was a difficult decision but one I feel we had to make.

We have started the process of turning our financial situation around. The first step is recognizing the problem. The second is creating a plan. And the third step is pulling together to make it happen. To make this financial turnaround a success, we need your support.

Your membership in NPPA is really what this is all about. In the last few months there has been more praise and recognition of the changes in this magazine than at any other time while I've been on the Board. Based on those responses and on other conversations, I believe the magazine and our educational programs are the membership benefits that you cherish the most. To assure that we can continue to deliver them, we have made these changes, and we hope that you will understand. We need you to tell us what the most important benefits are to you in your membership. Please contact your Regional Directors and Associate Directors, and tell us what your membership expectations are.

Todd Stricker can be reached at [email protected]


NPPA Budget Moves: Make Cuts Across Entire Budget/Michael Sherer

by Michael Sherer

There is a classic moment in the film "Network" where TV anchor Howard Beale opens a window and yells, "I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!" This is my Howard Beale moment. I am mad as hell about our budget crisis. I believe that we got ourselves into this mess through a series of faulty assumptions and miserable financial management. I believe that we got into this disaster by moving away from our long-standing tradition of volunteer support for our major activities and educational events. This move began when the Board adopted the fy2002-2003 budget that included an increase of $176,800 for additional national office staff members.

I was the chair of the Finance Committee that built this budget. I had reservations that I shared with the Board via eMail in advance of our annual meeting. Not to worry, the Executive Director eMailed the Board on April 25, 2002. These additional staff members would generate $195,000 in "incremental revenue" from sponsorships, memberships, product sales, and cost savings for our educational events. This new professional team, we were told, would pay for itself. Obviously, this has not happened.

This sort of blue-sky budget building has made a major contribution to my anger. Add to this the fact that the Executive Director eMailed the Board that, "Organizations go bankrupt when they run out of cash and you can see by this report that the NPPA is a long way from that. The total cash balances for the Association stood at $862,573 on March 31, 2002 and have held steady since then."

Compare that statement with the fact that our latest auditor's report shows that in fy2002-2003, our cash reserves dropped from $963,791 to $619,638; a net cash loss of $344,153. And the news only gets worse. In early November, the Executive Committee was told that if we wanted to keep the NPPA from running out of cash by mid-December, we had to make major spending cuts. A final decision, we were told, had to be made immediately in order to cancel the book printing contract for The Best of Photojournalism 2003.

Fortunately, we managed to get a short time extension. This gave the book editor a chance to renegotiate our contract with the printer. A solid plan, which included major cost savings and a payment schedule that would not begin until January 2004 was offered to the EC. This plan was shared with the Board. A majority of the Board liked the plan and encouraged the EC to move ahead.

Unfortunately, when the final vote came with a budgetary gun held to our heads, three EC members felt that we needed to take the financial bullet by killing the BOP book. I disagreed.

Make no mistake; I am not a financial whiz. But I also think I am not an idiot. I have a Ph.D. in journalism. I have been an active member of the NPPA for 20 years. I believe that I have the mental capacity and sense of institutional history to help guide us through this mess.

I believe that we must make serious across-the-board spending cuts in our entire budget rather than relying on the financial cherry-picking process that was used to eliminate the BOP book. I believe that if we return to our tradition of a heavily volunteer-based association, we will work our way out of this financial crisis. I will continue to argue this because I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!