Without the benefit of hindsight it's always difficult to tell what the landmarks of history are going to be, but this has the look of one...the Chicago Sun-Times, one of the two major newspapers in America's third-largest city, has just laid off its entire photography staff. All 28 photographers. At once. Without notice. Effective immediately.
Management apparently wants to use freelancers on an as-needed basis, and reporters are going to shoot video (what could go wrong there?).
Twenty-eight sacked pj's, or a Significant Moment of gear-grinding in the changing history of media? Or both.
Or maybe just one newspaper doin' the old Drano swirl.
The competition (the Trib) has the news.
(Thanks to MM, Ken, Kevin, and others)
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Mark: "Wow, I feel very badly for the photographers who I'm sure have given their blood, sweat and tears to that newspaper. I feel equal sympathy for their families. I hope they are able to go on and land new jobs elsewhere, though I know how difficult that may be."
David L.: "The Sun-Times must have believed what Marissa Mayer said last week."
Dennis: "I certainly understand that times are tough; but if they want to move to more videos, I hope their "plan" is more substantial than throwing video/photo equipment at their reporters. Getting good video has always seemed even more difficult and time consuming than getting a good photograph."
Mike replies: Absolutely right. Unless you like that cinema verité style of amateur/found video. I only like it if it's authentically so. Or necessarily so.
Thomas Osborne: "White House photographer Pete Souza was a Sun-Times staffer in the '80s."
Dogman: "How well I remember that voice in my head 20+ years ago that kept saying, 'The business is dying...get out...get out soon....' I did. But it still breaks my heart to see crap like this happen."
Herman Krieger: "The reporters can use their smart phone to call in stories with attached photos."
David Dyer-Bennet: "A friend who works there reports that the memo to reporters last week said they must always take their smart-phones and take photos and shoot video. So, Herman, that's not actually a joke."
David: "Like others, the first guy I thought of was John H. White. Just a stellar person and a great photographer. Wow."
John McMillin: "Dateline, Chicago—The Sun-Times today announced the layoff of its entire editorial, composition and printing staff. The newspaper will now be published as a Facebook page. 'We won't be bound by the elite customs of "professionalism,"' said the publisher. 'This newspaper remains Chicago's voice, now more than ever,' he told his iPhone."
Ned: "Natural evolution. There was a day when a site like TOP would have been a newspaper or a magazine and would have employed photographers."
Paul Byrnes: "This is so disturbing I can hardly believe it. And the truth is, lots of others will follow. Worse, it is not the fault of management, I suspect. I know nothing of the Sun-Times management, but the problems are hitting every newspaper. Manuel is right about how cavalier it is, but I suspect he is wrong about the choices they had. Ad revenues are disappearing, along with subscribers, and they paid for good photographers, just as they paid for good writers. I'll bet no-one at that newspaper wanted to do this. Just makes it even more tragic. I've made my living since 1976 largely in newspapers as a journalist and many of my friends are photographers. It is so hard to watch as the structures crumble, not because they were bad, but because readers and advertisers moved on to different technologies. No-one's fault, but the things we have lost in the fire...."
cgw: "Show me a major N. American daily that isn't wildly budget-chopping in the wake of plummeting circulation/sales and ad revenues. The photojournalist firings are a sad symptom of this larger problem."
Gaspar Heurtley: "Here in Argentina, the biggest news network is Clarín (they have 100+ radio stations, newspapers, and TV channels). Their photo staff is almost non-existent; they rely on the audience sending their own footage and cell phone pictures, and they advertise it as 'TN and the people.' Not only they laid off a lot of staff, but they managed to make it look cool."