Mark Hertzberg, the director of photography at the The Journal Times in Racine, Wis., announced last week that he will retire at the end of this month. He has worked at The Journal Times for almost 34 years, first as a staff photojournalist and then in his current position since 1987. His final day on the job will be Friday, March 30.
Hertzberg was actively involved in the “cameras in the courtroom” movement – to make photography permissible in Wisconsin’s courts – in the mid-to-late 1970s. That battle was won in 1979 with the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s adoption of Chapter 61 of it’s rules, establishing statewide guidelines for “electronic media and still photography of judicial proceedings.” It also established a county-by-county media coordinator network to facilitate media access on a local level. Since then, Hertzberg has served as Racine County’s media coordinator.
In a one-hour interview (well worth listening to) with Gregory Berg on the WGTD-FM Morning Show, Hertzberg recalled a lifetime of photojournalism.
Growing up in New York City, Hertzberg knew early on that he wanted to be a photojournalist. At the age of 10 he received a Brownie Starflash camera (which he still owns today). In the late 1960s he enrolled at Lake Forest College in Illinois and, while a student there, served a summer internship at the now defunct Baltimore News-American. Returning to the Chicago area, he worked at Altman Camera, waiting as patiently as possible to get his first newspaper job. It was in that camera store that one customer, time-after-time, encouraged him not to give up on his dream. That customer was none other than legendary Chicago Sun-Times photojournalist John H. White.
It took a few years but Hertzberg finally got that first photojournalism job. In 1974, he went north across the Illinois-Wisconsin to work as the only photographer at the Beloit (Wis.) Daily News. “It was a journalism boot camp,” Hertzberg said of his four years there.
Since joining the Racine staff in 1978, Hertzberg oversaw major leaps in journalism technology and common practices: from black and white to color, from film to digital, and from stills-only to the age of multimedia.
Hertzberg became known among his colleagues for his interest in courtroom photography. “We are the eyes and ears of our readers, and we bring the reader face to face with the defendant or the attorneys in the case,” he said in his WGTD interview. “These are very difficult moments in peoples lives. It’s not another photo-op. It’s not another press conference to blow in and out of.”
An avid bicyclist and Frank Lloyd Wright aficionado, Hertzberg plans to stay in Racine. In his interview, he admitted his shutter finger will still be getting a good workout in retirement. He was recently appointed as the official photographer for an individual: his granddaughter Jane Virginia Hertzberg, born July 2011.
Please join WNPA in not only congratulating Mark on his lifetime of photojournalism work, but in thanking him for his work – such as “cameras in the courtroom” – that still benefits us to this day.