A great shot of Terrell Owens and Tony Romo by Al Tielemans, one of the last six remaining SI staff photographers who were all laid off last Thursday.
The venerated photography-centric Sports Illustrated magazine let go all six of its last remaining staff photographers last Thursday, amid sad noises about restructuring, smaller quarters, and new working arrangements.
However inevitable, it's another sad ladmark moment in the transition from old media to new.
With distinct irony, the NPPA notes that the layoffs occurred "less than 12 hours after many sports shooters were in Manhattan for the premier of the ESPN film Keepers Of The Streak, a new documentary about four photographers who have shot every Super Bowl since its beginning." Here's a clip from the film featuring sports greats Walter Iooss (pronounced "yoss") and Neil Leifer, along with Joe Namath, talking about Walter's poolside shot of Broadway Joe—a great period piece.
Sympathies and solidarity to (in alphabetical order) Robert Beck, Simon Bruty, Bill Frakes, David E. Klutho, John W. McDonough, and Al Tielemans.
(Thanks to concern from many readers)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Michael Barker: "Next time I go to a game, I'm cheering for the photographers."
Benjamin Marks: "Wow. Just wow. Where is the 'Illustrated' going to come from? Fans with iPhones?"
Steve Biro: "I've said this time after time but I'll repeat it here: I'm fine with the transition to new media, even though I love books, magazines, traditional broadcasting and, yes, photographic prints. But I have a major problem when that transition is used as an excuse to gut an institution of what made it great in the first place. This latest move by Sports Illustrated is more evidence that most of the media brain trust has yet to figure out this new-fangled digital thing."
John Camp (partial comment): "I'd point out that the photographers weren't let go because they were unnecessary—they were let go because SI is failing. The company will struggle along for a while, but not too long.
"I once worked for one of the largest, most powerful news publishers in the nation. That entire corporation is now gone. When I was there, the place was rockin'—when they thought they needed more money, they'd just push the advertising rates. The couldn't even conceive of something like Craigslist.
"There was a group of us who really did see this coming, but we weren't the people who got promotions—those went to the socially ept, the guys (and I do mean guys) with shiny teeth and square chins who were good with the wives of the top managers. Most of the people who saw it coming eventually did okay: they got out and found something more economically relevant to do. The guys with square chins got early retirement, because the company fell apart beneath their feet. Many of the newspapers they ran no longer exist."