Michael Ferro Jr.
  • Michael Ferro Jr.

Monday was Columbus Day. Chicago had a parade. Michael Ferro Jr., chairman of Sun-Times Media, was its grand marshal.

The Chicago Newspaper Guild, which after ten months of bargaining is nowhere close to negotiating a new contract with Sun-Times Media, issued a statement asking, “What does [Ferro] know about Columbus Day Parade and its significance to the Chicago area? His own media company no longer has photojournalists on staff to document the parade he is leading.”

Sun-Times Media laid off all its photographers in May. In a new profile by Bryan Smith in Chicago magazine, Ferro explains that they’re gone because they’re obsolete. You don’t need anybody taking pictures because everybody’s taking pictures. If that’s a paradox—so be it.

“The world has changed,” Ferro tells Smith. “Now we have thousands of photos to select from . . . I am very sympathetic toward [the photographers]. If I were in their shoes, I would feel bad too. It would be like you’re a carriage driver and the cars come and you’re really upset that you can’t have your buggy whip and hit your horse anymore.”

He continues, “I knew the photographers would be going from the day we took this paper over. We took a year and a half too long to do it. . . . I can tell you 100 percent before we bought this we had that cutlass ready.”

I don’t understand the newspaper guild’s beef. Ferro wasn’t grand marshal of the Labor Day parade, for goodness’ sake. Columbus was a bold and original thinker who changed the world even though his arrival in the New World can delicately be described as a mixed blessing. That’s why on Monday, various parts of the U.S. preferred the counter-celebration of Indigenous People’s Day.

Which certainly beats calling it Smallpox Day.