photo: scott strazzante / chicago tribune

John H. White in his office.

I'm still mourning the firing of the entire Sun-times photography staff yesterday.

It marks a dark day for Chicago journalism—hell, all journalism. I mean, really? The entire photo staff of the S-T?

When I worked at the now-wheezing old girl, I always believed the photo staff was our MVP, particularly the photos of John H. White.

I remember one photo of his in particular—a gas main had erupted sending a 100-foot pillar of flame licking into the air. John was there and his picture says everything you need to know about him, and why photojournalism is not just some luxury. It looks like a poster for a Godzilla movie, with people on the street running wildly toward the camera with terror-stricken faces. Indeed, in the background, the column of fire roars like a frightening beast, ready to bend and incinerate anyone and anything in its path.

The thing that strikes you most, however, is that whoever took the picture (John!) clearly had to be turned toward the monster, which, of course, was the case. It was always the case with John.

Like a first responder at a tragedy, his instinct was always to go toward the calamity, not from it. It’s no accident that he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1982 and every award in the book after that.

Your work will be deeply missed John, as will that of the rest of the staff. Good luck to the reporters tasked with snapping—what—iPhone pics?

I feel bad for you, for S-T readers. And for journalism.