When Billy Jennings was a young news photographer at WMAQ-TV, it hit him. He’d landed a big job in a big market with big on-air talent. He started to pace the newsroom floor.
Jennings remembers telling Jim Stricklin, a cameraman who’d covered everything from Chicago street gangs to prison riots, he was nervous.
“Let me tell you something,” he said Mr. Stricklin told him. “There are times you’re going to go out without a reporter — but they are never going to go out without you. You’re the tip of the spear. If you didn’t shoot it, it didn’t happen. Tell that story with your pictures, and you’ll be fine.”
After that, Jennings, who’s now WMAQ’s chief photographer, said, “I just kind of settled down.”
Mr. Stricklin, who was one of WMAQ’s first Black news photographers and had a 40-year career, died July 26 at Kindred Chicago Lakeshore Hospital of COVID-19, according to Marita Joyce Stricklin, his wife of 57 years. The Hyde Park resident, who was 88, became ill despite having been vaccinated against the coronavirus, she said.
“He had been just going along and enjoying retirement,” she said. “It’s so transmissible.”
WMAQ staffers said they’ll miss his humor and gift for getting good pictures. They said that, when news happened, it seemed he always had his camera rolling and ready to shoot.
They also said they’ll miss his support during labor disputes. Mr. Stricklin was a steward for the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, according to retired WMAQ anchor Art Norman.
“He represented the little guy,” Norman said. “He would fight for maternity leave, things like that. He would fight like crazy. He just looked out for everyone.”
“He wasn’t cowed or impressed by any star or any politician,” former WMAQ anchor Joan Esposito said.
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SOURCE: Chicago Sun-Times, Maureen O’Donnell