Previous news story    Next news story

Chicago Sun-Times lays off entire photo staff: switches to freelancers

By dpreview staff on May 30, 2013 at 17:49 GMT

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times has laid off its entire photography staff, and plans to use freelance reporters and photographers in the future to save costs. The layoffs, which are believed to take effect immediately, were announced to the 28-strong photo staff on Thursday morning. In a statement issued by the paper, it suggested that the move was in response to a demand for 'more video content' from its audience.

Statement from Chicago Sun-Times

"The Sun-Times business is changing rapidly and our audiences are consistently seeking more video content with their news. We have made great progress in meeting this demand and are focused on bolstering our reporting capabilities with video and other multimedia elements. The Chicago Sun-Times continues to evolve with our digitally savvy customers, and as a result, we have had to restructure the way we manage multimedia, including photography, across the network."

The Sun-Times is Chicago's oldest continuously-published newspaper. Today, the paper laid off its entire 28 person-strong photo staff. 

The Sun-Times is the oldest continuously-published newspaper in Chicago's history, and began life in 1844 as the Chicago Evening Journal. It has won numerous awards, including eight Pulitzer prizes, two of which were for photography. One of those Pulitzers was won by photographer John H. White in 1982; he is believed to be among the full-time staff members who lost their jobs today.

We spoke to Dean Rutz - a staff photographer for the Seattle Times about today's news. Dean is from Chicago, where his father was an executive at the Tribune. Here's what he had to say:

'It's incredibly disheartening to read news like this. And it's incredibly short-sighted. The Washington Times and Newsday did the same thing, and it didn't work out too well for either. It's a terrible overreach by executives who don't appear to understand their own product. They haven't connected the dots on how this affects their product. It's a reactionary cost-savings measure that ends up creating other costs and problems they haven't considered. It denigrates the product, and they'll recognize that in very short order.'

[...] Newspapers that see photo departments as service organizations - meaning pictures are an accompaniment to a story, versus something that stands on its own - see that service as something that can be provided by anyone.'

[...] they don't understand the soul these guys brought to the printed page - and that's what's about to happen to the Sun-Times: the soul is going to be cut right out of it. The personality of this very vibrant city is going to be lost on the printed page. Those images that gave it character and presence and heart and emotion will be replaced by something less [...]. There's a price to be paid for that. It's just a question of when they feel it.'

via Chicago Tribune 

Comments

Total comments: 291
123
RXVGS
By RXVGS (10 months ago)

http://thephotobrigade.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/canon-nikon-iphone.jpg

2 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (10 months ago)

Another liberal crap rag slowly on it's way out. This is just a slow death. The paper became preachy and is tough to read. Surely the cause of the layoffs is global warming or Bush. They are every bit as bad as the far right nut jobs.

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (10 months ago)

When was the last time you bought and read a copy of the SunTimes?

1 upvote
Davidgilmour
By Davidgilmour (10 months ago)

Anybody with an iPhone is a photographer, so this step is logic!

0 upvotes
hlcowan
By hlcowan (10 months ago)

This development makes me very sad. I have always believed that you need two people to be able to tell the entire story-the writer, and the photographer. I don't mean anyone with a cell phone, but someone with the training and the equipment and the KNOWLEDGE to be able to take a photo that causes people to gasp, to remember instantly where they were when they first heard/saw the event happen, to bring to life the vivd words the writer is painting. I understand the need to cut costs in any business environment. The internt has drastically changed how most of us receive our news. However, I am one of the holdouts, who love nothing better than to sit down with the Sunday Times, and read the brilliant commentary by the writers AND to enjoy the photos by the photojournalists. "A picture is worth a thousand words" was true when that statement was first uttered, and is still true today. I CAN see the difference between a professional image & a cell phone one, and believe most others can too.

0 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (10 months ago)

It really doesn't matter how much you value professional photojournalists over reporters with camera phones, the simple fact is that most newspapers are in dire financial trouble. Most people stopped paying for newspapers when they could get their news for free from TV or the internet.

When the newspapers go bankrupt... everyone loses their jobs. Not just 28 photographers, but everyone goes on food stamps.

You can't blame a paper for trying to cut costs and stay in business.

1 upvote
CFynn
By CFynn (10 months ago)

This may cut costs and save them money in the short term - but the only way for newspapers have a chance of staying in buisiness over the long term is to provide superior content.

0 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (10 months ago)

If "superior content" led to success, then explain why Celine Dione has sold three times as many records as Aretha Franklin did? Sometimes popularity is determined by things other than talent.

Do you honestly think that "better quality photos" sells a lot of newspapers? Or perhaps... would "more sensational headlines" do the trick?

1 upvote
Razor512
By Razor512 (10 months ago)

Video has gotten very popular because it shows whats happening. For example, an article of a bombing may be 5 pages long, but the video can be just 10 seconds and it will provide the same info of what happened, then the other details, eg death toll and other stuff which usually comes in later as the aftermath is examined, is usually in the headline, and further discussed on the news.

It sucks that they got laid off but the average person buying the news paper, does not care much for the professional photo.

You don't see the average person looking at a photo of the bombing in the news paper and immediately think to them self "I love how he used the 24-70 2.8 to take that photo"

The thing is that most people are satisfied with work, as long as the object/ thing being discussed, is in focus and and in the frame, they will absorb the content and think nothing of it. Not many people see the value in a professional photo, and thus will be unable ti justify the price tag in their minds.

0 upvotes
ciao_chao
By ciao_chao (10 months ago)

This is no surprise, for breaking news as it happens the staff photographer is always going to come in second place, in this age of high speed mobile telecomunications. Short of a teleportation device, this isn't going to change.

Photojournalism needs to change and adapt to the landscape, and concede that getting news as it happens is always going to be one step ahead. There is still great potential on the features side of the trade, and that's where the big battle ground will be.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (10 months ago)

The reporters/writers are rarely around when the "breaking" event happens either.

0 upvotes
ciao_chao
By ciao_chao (10 months ago)

Written media does not need to be of a first hand account.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (10 months ago)

ciao-

So that means print reporters don't even need to visit the site of whatever event.

I think what you mean is that after the fact event summary gathering and writing is easier than after the event photography. (Still if there's a known event, it's best to have a photographer on the scene. Perhaps a freelancer would share, if paid, perhaps not.)

0 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (10 months ago)

On the iPhone fora posters are saying the current photos look like they were shot with a 3GS anyway, and they condemn not the move to reporters with iPhones but rather the training classes announced -- as pointless. "Press the button" rules the day.

The irony here is that the same people are unlikely to buy a newspaper (unless they own pet birds in cages I suppose).

0 upvotes
Maxfield_photo
By Maxfield_photo (10 months ago)

I have to think it would be easier to train a photographer as a writer than to train a writer as a photographer, no offense meant.

0 upvotes
Eric Hensel
By Eric Hensel (10 months ago)

Right...apples and oranges.
Takes years of training for both'
Think again.

3 upvotes
Rick Knepper
By Rick Knepper (10 months ago)

This is the dumbest thing I've read in a while as evidenced by the sheer volume of incredibly bad composition, grammer and spelling in these forums all supposedly by photographers of some ilk or another. It takes way less time to learn photography than to master one's own native language though maybe that's one of the reasons for print journalism's downward spiral - a lack of mastery of the language.

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (10 months ago)

If no offense was meant perhaps you've not quite mastered writing.

There's a certain undertone of arrogance mixed with thinly veiled desperation in the air when some "photographers" discuss their "art" and at the end of the day it may not be helping all that much...

1 upvote
groesbpa
By groesbpa (10 months ago)

We are getting what we deserve. Everyone is a photographer, everyone is an artist (thanks Andy Warhol), everyone is a musician. Bottom dollar thinking wins, and everyone continually readjusts what they think talent, quality and aesthetics are, until we are surrounded by what we now live in: a culture of crap. Let the massive altars to power, money and greed continue to be built and worshipped at.

1 upvote
rallyfan
By rallyfan (10 months ago)

Let's be real. How many newspapers do you buy?

Besides, Warhol was right. Everyone is an artist.

I hope not everyone is a photographer because unemployment isn't as fun as it sounds.

3 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (10 months ago)

Tripping the shutter is the last thing any photojournalist does. It's about engaging life and people and the world and, dare we say, caring and making a difference. Go ask a W Eugene Smith, Bruce Davidson, Mary Ellen Mark, etc., etc., etc,

1 upvote
rallyfan
By rallyfan (10 months ago)

No.

Nobody's asking anyone anything.

How bout them apples?

The party's over. What few reporters are left will take a few shots and a video and that's that.

Bye bye! Toodles!

1 upvote
contadorfan
By contadorfan (10 months ago)

It's sad to think how the art of photojournalism by talented professionals is withering away to mere snapshots from the average Joe.

My favorite comment from the web:

"I can haz Pulitzer?" + cat avatar

2 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (10 months ago)

That's actually a very insightful comment. Nobody cares enough for money to change hands so the world is moving on.

I just feel bad for the people made redundant.

2 upvotes
the Mtn Man
By the Mtn Man (10 months ago)

Wow... really sucks to lose your job in this economy. Well, it sucks at any time, but it's especially bad right now. Even worse, "photographer" has been seriously devalued as a profession. Given the ubiquity of image capture devices and the number of "photography studios" that have sprung up in the last several years, seems like everybody is a "photographer" these days (although most people are doing good just figuring out which end of the camera to point at their subject, including those with photography studios!). These folks are going to have a tough time finding a new job in their field.

Comment edited 5 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (10 months ago)

It's absolutely terrible for the employees sacked.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (10 months ago)

"Well, it sucks at any time, but it's especially bad right now."

The economy is not as bad as it used to be. It does not help professions which are either dead of offshored though.

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (10 months ago)

A sinking ship jettisons it's valuable cargo just before sinking.

At least the flotsam and jetsam survives... not the ship...

.

3 upvotes
Andy McDonald
By Andy McDonald (10 months ago)

We can only hope.

0 upvotes
RXVGS
By RXVGS (11 months ago)

You would be crazy to try to become a professional photographer these days, something to think about for all those who are about to graduate and are thinking about their career options.....

11 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (11 months ago)

In one of the (universally useless) articles on this site about a Leica product, at least two muppets were insisting PJs use Leica gear. They seemed otherwise healthy so it's not like they had concussions; they actually believed it.

Where are those halfwits now?

I said in a previous post that anyone with a work flow and a production method is at risk from the dozens of guys with wifi tablets that fire off their shots instantly. By the time you pack your precious gear and perform your oh so scary talented art there are twenty photos and two videos all over the web.

You get to keep your better images and the Pullitzer too. Congrats boys.

2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (11 months ago)

WiFi tablets don't have optical zooms, or really telephoto lenses, and are truly horrible shooting in low light. Can barely shoot across a room let alone a baseball field.

2 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (11 months ago)

Then PJs should use pro gear to exercise their art. They need low light sensitivity. It'll be low light in their homes since they're unemployed and won't have electricity...

Why?

Because there are dozens of people shooting away anywhere and everywhere 24/7. There is no time for "visionaries" and "artists" at this stage. Snapshooters won. Rightfully so, in fact; I don't want to wait around for some guy wearing a beret to generate the perfect image when I can simply see what happened with a rudimentary snapshot to accompany the article, then move on to the next news item.

If the photographers are willing to duke it out as freelancers there may be lucrative opportunities provided connections are maintained and the luck doesn't run out. Otherwise...

Yes it's sad and yes it's the end of an era, but then again nobody is hired to conduct stage coaches any more either. Professions go extinct just like anything else (except hatred; that's the only thing that lasts).

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Poss
By Poss (10 months ago)

So you're OK that rally pictures will forever suck Rallyfan... right?

0 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (10 months ago)

Rallies? Good question!

The best event in the calendar worldwide is happening.... right now. Hint: it's named after the place in my avatar. Go to BBC's sport site: not there. Go to official site: limited photos.

On every stage there are spectators in better spots than pros and they outnumber the pros anyway.

Pros only have a prayer at park ferme and maybe stages that aren't the biggies. So forget Kineta for example. If you are local and know the big yumps you can get a few great shots of a few cars floating 3 m above ground. Then you can sell those for €100 or so.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (10 months ago)

rallyfan:

But how does a freelancer gain admittance to the sidelines of a football game? Same basic problem with photographing visiting dignitaries, or even events like a big fire.

If you just happen to be in the right place with an iPhone, and happen to have good light, and the subject isn't far away or moving faster than a walk, sure there's a possibility of getting a usable image with a phone, and but at a certain point even iPhone shooters (freelance or not) are going to want to be paid.

It's not like photographers only shoot car rallies.

0 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (10 months ago)

I believe you are absolutely right and this is an issue.

For now it seems the idea is for institutions to tell reporters "snap some shots, you're there anyway."

I suspect freelancers will organize into agencies or cooperatives but am only guessing.

I 100% agree with you this is a problem.

0 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (10 months ago)

Rally photos is not something you can do with a smartphone.
I know, I tried.

Hell, it's a difficult task with a DSLR, and when I snapped away at the drivers I sorely missed a second curtain flash (which my current DSLR doesn't have).
I tried with smartphones and bridge cameras.
No way a non-pro can manage consistently.

Same goes for cycling events, for instance.

0 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (11 months ago)

No Adobe Creative Cloud subs for the Trib, one surmises. Didn't even retain one Director of Photography to coordinate the freelancers and staff doing photography and videography?

2 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (10 months ago)

The Adobe Creative Cloud thing is the real tragedy here. If only there were a way to support Adobe nonetheless? Maybe the PJs could donate some money or something?

0 upvotes
luigibozi
By luigibozi (11 months ago)

reading the article from wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Sun-times), the PJ's are the last in a long list of laidoffs. One could say they are good, they "resisted" pretty well...

1 upvote
walkaround
By walkaround (11 months ago)

Where are these photographers and newspapers while corporations and purchased politicians loot the public, and stage "terrorist" events to take our rights away? Nowhere. Do their jobs have any value? No.

Comment edited 26 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
mlewan
By mlewan (11 months ago)

There are loads of people with impressive skills in different areas, who are unable to make money from their skills. Your dentist may be an excellent violinist. Your bus driver a wonderful painter. Your bank clerk a magnificent poet. It is just that they are not quite good enough to make a decent living from it. That is tragic but that is life.

My deepest respect to the skills of the laid off photographers, but time seems to have caught up with their jobs.

2 upvotes
otterman
By otterman (10 months ago)

I would bet that many of them are BETTER than good enough, but are held back by fear and/or insecurities.

1 upvote
Drew Conway
By Drew Conway (11 months ago)

I get all my news in single line sentence headlines thanks to cnn.com, espn.com, and the like. No time to read newspapers.

1 upvote
Diopter
By Diopter (11 months ago)

you got them! or: they got you?
(-)

5 upvotes
Poss
By Poss (10 months ago)

You wonder why you have no time to read the newspaper? That might be the real issue.

0 upvotes
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (11 months ago)

Local newspapers are a joke. The only time I look at a newspaper is when I visit my mother and I don't look for news but for the clueless mistakes. The paper (Courier-News) had a headline on the front page about a month ago about a local business that survived the nightmare of super storm Sandy with a photo of the owner packing up some stock off shelves in preparation of the storm to avoid the flooding except there was zero flooding in that town (Manville, NJ) from Sandy. The photos they use on the front page could have been taken by a person who never took a photo in their life.

5 upvotes
Diopter
By Diopter (11 months ago)

It is about 20 years history of the warnings and protests against taking over the small-town papers by huge, sometimes international corporations.
By the way: many older and well known press photographers started their carriers in the little local papers.
My penny:
http://artol.info/a/scrapbook/101118/pueblo-chieftain-corrections.html
(-)

1 upvote
Johnsonj
By Johnsonj (11 months ago)

The Billy Goat tavern has gross food. It's a lot like the dinosaur newspapers...to be avoided.

1 upvote
ata3001
By ata3001 (11 months ago)

Let just hope no one contributes.

1 upvote
Sirandar
By Sirandar (11 months ago)

The sad truth is that yet another stable family oriented occupation is being replaced by basically nothing because of greed on both sides of the fence. Newspaper owners want work for free and people want the news for free. A perfect death spiral evident in almost every aspect of society.

8 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (11 months ago)

All true. But nobody wants to hear it and you will be accused of being behind the times and a Luddite by those who know the word.

Of course it isn't just inept management. Part of the blame lies with incredibly easy to use, auto-everything digital cameras. They don't make you a professional but your chances of leaving the lens cap on or opening the back and fogging the film are minimal.

Just be thankful you can't stop someone on the street and ask them to perform surgery.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
5 upvotes
SDPharm
By SDPharm (11 months ago)

> The sad truth is that yet another stable family oriented occupation is being replaced by basically nothing because of greed on both sides of the fence.

Not necessarily true. Very often the owners of these companies are forced into this kind of situation in order to survive. Blaming greed is just an easy excuse. You can strip 100% compensation from Sun's CEO, if the company is going down, it's going down. It's a miracle today for any newspaper to survive.

2 upvotes
Sirandar
By Sirandar (11 months ago)

For many people like myself, newspapers have become as dispensable as the professional photographers are to the newspaper's managers.

There is a trust disconnect between much of the public and newpapers and everyone knows that pictures and video can be doctored cheaply and easily.

The photographers are only the first to go because they are the most defenseless. Any informational medium that relies solely on advertising is a compromised medium because there is a huge trust disconnect. I used to pay for a newspaper because I believed in them as an organization. I no longer do as I feel that things that need reporting are not being reported.

The whole newspaper model has been dead for quite some time. The only sources of info I still have some interest in is semi-public sites where many many real people can post their views in a semi-moderated manner. IMDB is one of the more interesting examples but slowly that is being corrupted too.

8 upvotes
Reg Natarajan
By Reg Natarajan (11 months ago)

Supply and demand. When there are cameras everywhere, the need to pay people a lot of money to take photos ends. And no, the marketplace does not care about the talent of these photographers. Get over it. The photography most people want to see is the video of Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack. You can bemoan that fact, but it is true, and there's a lesson there that everyone involved in photography should learn.

3 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (11 months ago)

Well, according to your way of thinking, the lesson to be learned is that we're all in the wrong hobby (or job... or business).

0 upvotes
Reg Natarajan
By Reg Natarajan (11 months ago)

Great hobby. Terrible job/business.

10 upvotes
Bookie
By Bookie (11 months ago)

Being a professional photographer is a 20th Century concept.

2 upvotes
contadorfan
By contadorfan (11 months ago)

Very well put. I admire your succinctness.

0 upvotes
Poss
By Poss (10 months ago)

Silly me... I though you said pornography... it's photography you're talking about....

0 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (10 months ago)

Well, maybe I'm not "most people".
And glad of it.

0 upvotes
plevyadophy
By plevyadophy (11 months ago)

Good and bad thing
============

The Good:

From a business perspective this may make sense as it means you do not have a bunch of staff on the payroll sitting idle, because instead you hire as and when needed. It also means a reduction in costs associated with things such as pension schemes and other employer provided benefits.

The Bad:

It could be used, and I strongly suspect it will be used, as a way of driving down prices the very bottom. If you have a staff of photographers they will all know the going rate for the job. However, if you call one freelancer and don't like the price, or likely, don't want to pay the price becasue you are a disrespectful cheapstake company, you will simply hang-up and call another photographer who charges peanuts; and then once you have got your job done at that stupidly low price, for your next assignment you can tell the photographer you call that you can/have got the job done before at $x and before long this low price becomes the "going rate".

0 upvotes
SDPharm
By SDPharm (11 months ago)

The good side of the bad is that the photographers are now free to take other, potentially more lucrative, jobs elsewhere.

0 upvotes
Kirk Tuck
By Kirk Tuck (11 months ago)

There are very few "lucrative jobs elsewhere..."

3 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (11 months ago)

There are no lucrative jobs anywhere. These guys are doomed to unemployment or a job at WalMart (if they can get it).

2 upvotes
CaseyComo
By CaseyComo (11 months ago)

Boy, that's grim.

0 upvotes
jkoch2
By jkoch2 (11 months ago)

"Professional" PJ's were always compromised by the need to keep good relations with officials. Invitation to attend a function, or ride on the official plane, depended on being a friendly conveyor of the officials' image to the public. Thus, most of the results consisted of vapid ribbon-cuttings, hand-shakes, or community "appearances." Meanwhile, the real news is obscene, which originally meant simply "off-scene": the pay-to-play campaign finance deals, the no-show jobs given to council cronies and kin, the contracts padded with graft, the phony invoices, the cozy deals with employee unions. Photos of a junket or resort conference had better not make it look lavish, useless, or rife with hanky-panky. The old PJs were either part of the "system" or would not last long.

5 upvotes
justinwonnacott
By justinwonnacott (11 months ago)

Thanks for your trashy slur on an entire profession by jkoch. I doubt you have worked as a professional PJournalist for much more than a weekend or two and I think your comments cannot be applied to the field as a whole - you are writing a destructive load of **** . Your bitter, cynical , ill informed comment is probably just a troller's lure. It is amazing how stupid illogical generalizations substitute for thinking and analysis - talk is cheap and rumors are cheaper, especially online eh?

3 upvotes
jkoch2
By jkoch2 (11 months ago)

So the Sun-Times action offends you less than the possibility that the PJs weren't really elucidating the realities of Cook County or having any impact on voter knowledge or levels of corruption?

Years of newspaper photos associate with City Hall events seldom taught anyone anything about how the machines work. The news writers barely pick up on graft, if at all, only long after grand jury indictments. Convicted or disgraced officials make comebacks with the help of amnesia and nice pictures. Hard-hitting investigative journalism is not popular with those who buy ad space, anyway. No one gets a ride on AF1 without being a vetted "team player." We are bombarded with non-news about celebrities or the sensational, which is indeed photogenic and captured, no doubt, by professionals of great honor and esteem.

Be candid with your graduates. If lucky enough to get jobs at all, they will involve PR or ad work, which has dignity, but no heroes, and probably not much pay.

5 upvotes
raztec
By raztec (11 months ago)

I don't think he's maligning the entire profession of PJs at all. He's just saying that if you rock the boat , then you are toast and on your own. What organization wants their's or their advertisers' trash exposed to the public? Seems like your taking this too personally, or are too naive to understand the concept of self interest in world of media.

2 upvotes
Random Asian Guy
By Random Asian Guy (11 months ago)

I wonder in the near future, if everyone will be wearing google glasses or bionic eyes that has wifi and GPS.

The willing public will sign a waiver to the news company to tap directly into their glasses when ever they want at a payment per minute to the wearer.

News companies will just get a gps location with breaking news, search their database for signed up members near by and tap into their vision for instant live feed.

Just random thoughts about the future.

5 upvotes
BroncoBro
By BroncoBro (11 months ago)

Not that communism is a better alternative, but this and many other changes are all things that Marx and Lenin warned about. We are indeed experiencing Late Capitalism.

1 upvote
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (11 months ago)

You are confusing Marx's theories with the actual (distorted) application in the real world by Eastern Countries during the last century.
Almost every American does, from my experience.

True communism will never be put in practice since it doesn't account for the fact that man's real nature is fundamentally "evil" (by design, i.e. evolution).

0 upvotes
raztec
By raztec (11 months ago)

Yes, true communism wants to replace the free will of man, with that of Man (Marx, Lenin etc). It's trying to play God. And as you say, if man is evil, then so is Man. And having evil direct evil isn't a recipe for success.

3 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (10 months ago)

You didn't get the point.
You are still confusing the theory with its distorted application.
Communism wasn't meant to be a one-man show like USSR's and China's implementations.

Comment edited 15 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
raztec
By raztec (10 months ago)

I'm giving you a theoretical critique based on false reasoning and logic. Even if it wasn't a one man show, by your own token if man is evil then one man (or men) directing the course of other men doesn't lead to good - just like most other utopian philosophies.

0 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (10 months ago)

That's a shared feature of *all* forms of government, including democracy (plus, think Gaussian distribution and figure where is that going to lead regarding average intelligence).

So no need to bash communism, which at least tried (in its original conception, on paper) to put forward something better than the actual world.

0 upvotes
BroncoBro
By BroncoBro (11 months ago)

We all need to learn how to work this to our advantage. Increasingly, this is how many jobs will be structured. Automation is taking the "skill" out of many jobs and when that happens, companies will look "out of house" for the lowest bidder. That's my situation. I work freelance assignments for a local niche publisher. I don't get paid much for a single photo, but I get to meet every important player in the business community here. Those connections have led to commercial assignments. I'm doing a job later today at the cafeteria of a major hospital. I'll probably see two images in the story and get paid $75. A waste of time you say? Not at all. The person I'm meeting to set up the shoot is the Media Relations Director for the hospital. Additionally, I will take a lot of shots that I will never offer the paper. I upload them to a stock house and get a bit of revenue from that. A staff photographer can't usually do either of these things.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
jkoch2
By jkoch2 (11 months ago)

And, after chalking up the entire week's fees and expenses, doesn't that net at most perhaps $500 / 40 hours, with no benefits, vacation, sick-days, or allowances for bad weather, clients who reneg and don't pay, or the weeks that might come without a single gig?

3 upvotes
JordanAT
By JordanAT (11 months ago)

It depends on whether the quality of the final product leads to marketing photos for the hospital and $300-$1000 a piece plus per-copy prices for their print advertising. Does that cut into the share that the industrial photog was going to charge them $10k for? Yes, it does.

0 upvotes
BroncoBro
By BroncoBro (11 months ago)

I think you're missing my point. A staff photographer for a newspaper may be limited in what they can do outside the work for the paper. I have no such restrictions. The paper I do work for can't afford a full-time photographer...it just isn't in the business model. They can afford to pay me what they do for editorial content. I make up for it by using the contacts I make to get commercial assignments. I'm turning lemons into lemonade. I've gotten some very good paying gigs from the contacts I've made while working for the paper.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Weegee
By Weegee (11 months ago)

I wonder when The New York Times will finally decide to do the same? People are so visually illiterate and tasteless that we knew it would come to this. Just look at the content of TV. "professional" photography is dying.

2 upvotes
JayBratcher
By JayBratcher (11 months ago)

They aren't getting rid of professionals - they are getting rid of in-house staff. This has been going on in IT for years. Welcome to the 21st century.

2 upvotes
ksgant
By ksgant (11 months ago)

Certain aspects of it are. But I would say that my business is going stronger now than it ever was. I totally welcome the amateurs and "I got a friend that's pretty good with an iPhone" crowd because it allows me to stand above them a bit and when potential clients see my work, they're more used to Billy on Instagram instead of a portable studio environment with lighting and things of that nature.

Photojournalism is a different beast though.

1 upvote
jkoch2
By jkoch2 (11 months ago)

The NYT and others receive, unsolicited, thousands of prize-grade shots every day. No need to retain a "pro" drawing a fixed salary and benefits, or the cost and hazard of sending the pro to this or that hotspot.

0 upvotes
richardginn
By richardginn (11 months ago)

If they are going to do this move they might as well just shut down the whole company.

0 upvotes
Suntan
By Suntan (11 months ago)

Hardly.

When was the last time anyone was really wowed by a picture they saw in a newspaper?

-Suntan

2 upvotes
richardginn
By richardginn (11 months ago)

it is all about quality. Quality will down due to this move.

1 upvote
Peter KT Lim
By Peter KT Lim (11 months ago)

Today lots of newspaper agency they encourage public use their handphone, compact cam shoot on the spot photo/video (such as accident photo) send to them sell to them, never mind about the quality!
So their photographers will only cover importance events, however to cut cost they will encourage their photographer to work as freelanced, they no need to pay them any benefit!
At the digital age taking photo are more easy them the film, and of course somebody will feel the pain.

0 upvotes
dmanthree
By dmanthree (11 months ago)

And the death spiral of quality photography continues. What plagues professionals outside PJ has, apparently, spread to PJ, which is a shame. Now we'll see crappy photos, and even crappier videos. Shame on the Sun-Times.

2 upvotes
Jojochinoise
By Jojochinoise (11 months ago)

I have read many of your comments. I feel that the photographers are getting a raw deal. Their work is valuable and they do not deserve this. For instance the photos shot at the results of the OK tornado are still on my mind. If it wasn't for their professionalism, I would not have remembered what I saw. I think that the paper is making a big mistake.

2 upvotes
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (11 months ago)

Prepare yourselves for the paper thin digital displays that will make up the newspapers of tomorrow

1 upvote
JWest
By JWest (11 months ago)

Oh, they won't be able to display photographs? :(

1 upvote
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (11 months ago)

Hmm... lemme think...
I'm pretty sure there already *is* some kind of news media heavily focused on video clips...
OH! Now I remember, it's called "NEWS CHANNEL"...

5 upvotes
ryanshoots
By ryanshoots (11 months ago)

More video sucks. Buggy players, mandatory commercials at the beginning and so on. I'll take a photo by a professional any day over 99% of the punters with an iphone video.

I understand the economics of it, but don't think for a minute that quality is going up.

16 upvotes
T3
By T3 (11 months ago)

People will still get their fill of news photos, but they no longer go to newspapers for it. Within minutes of an event happening, photos show up on the web. When you want news, no one is looking at the artistic "quality" of the images being produced. They just want to see what's happening as quickly as it happens. If you want pretty, high quality photos, newspapers aren't the place to go looking for them.

And the days of thinking that only a "professional" can take a good photo are long past us. Frankly, I'd say that there are a heck of a lot of amateur photographers that can easily produce better work than your average newspaper photographer.

As for railing against the rise of video, it just makes you sound old and crabby. These days, when I want to see a review of any particular product, the first place I go is Youtube, because a Youtube video review is the closest thing to actually seeing and touching a product. Likewise, video of news is the closet thing to being there.

7 upvotes
photonius
By photonius (11 months ago)

Youtube is the last place I'd go for a product review, usually 90 % of the time is wasted with useless information that I can read up faster in a text like dpreview.

12 upvotes
Paul Axt
By Paul Axt (11 months ago)

ryanshoots and photonius =100% approval!

0 upvotes
photo_rb
By photo_rb (11 months ago)

T3, you are partly right when you say a lot of amateurs can produce better (I would say equal) work, although the big difference is the professional has to produce this day in and day out.

But when there is an endless supply of amateurs willing to work for a pat on the head, it is an easy choice for the newspaper.

0 upvotes
ksgant
By ksgant (11 months ago)

They're trying to stay in business. They have to make money to do that. How would you propose they do this? Go back to the "old days"? They're dying using that model. Go behind a pay-wall? Nope, everyone hates that too. No one wants ads, no one wants paywalls, no one wants change....but the newspapers can't stay in business.

0 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (11 months ago)

@ryanshoots
Who has ever cared about quality in the first place?
That's mass market for you.
It's a sad state of things, and it's apparent not only in photography/journalism, but almost everywhere.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 56 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
domina
By domina (11 months ago)

That's a good thing for photography and videography, it means now everyone will be able to sell to them on the strength of their current images rather than be employed by them permanently because of personal connections or past reputation. However, it's sad for the photographers as employees. Perhaps the newspaper should offer them free support to set up their freelance businesses.

2 upvotes
Jack Simpson
By Jack Simpson (11 months ago)

Did you think about what you wrote after you re-read what you typed? That is, Domina, perhaps the most nonsensical piece of tosh I've read in sometime :( Your line: "Perhaps the newspaper should offer them free support to set up their freelance businesses" is paramount to having Europe say " let's help the poor Greeks set up some calamari stands throughout the rest of Europe" .
As for you line: "... it means now everyone will be able to sell to them on the strength of their current images rather than be employed by them permanently because of personal connections or past reputation." That would be like someone saying; " Are you going to hire Domina to shootfootball, concerts, news events, etc ...? Are you kidding, no way. Sure, he's got a camera but no one knows who he is and sure he's got lots of friends on Facebook ... but I don't know them. Nope, I'm gonna go with someone I know has experience shooting those types of events and someone I know or a colleage knows.

3 upvotes
pdcm
By pdcm (11 months ago)

Agree with you Jack. Domina's post is the stupidest thing I've read for ages. Wonder if he writes for Yahoo News.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (11 months ago)

Domina, the newspapers won't buy photographs because there are idiots with smartphones willing to offer them their pics just for vanity, so they'll see their names on the newspapers. You also say it's sad for photographers and employees. Of course it is, but you really don't care, do you? Because what you write is so inconsequent! The newspapers giving them support? Really? They'll tell you they're no charity funds.
(P. S.: you do realize «Domina» is feminine - it's «Mistress» in latin -, don't you?)

1 upvote
Austin101
By Austin101 (11 months ago)

idiots with smartphones? well those idiots are getting phones and video that staff photographers and news crews can only dream of.

I'll take low quality over nothing everytime

1 upvote
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (11 months ago)

Austin: given the quality of your pictures, I'm not surprised at your reply...

3 upvotes
noegd
By noegd (11 months ago)

I think we have far enough of low quality stuff already. I guess the next step is they fire journalists because there is enough content on Twitter.

I thought the whole point of paying for a newspaper or a magazine was to have some quality content analyzed, written and documented in a professional way...

Comment edited 44 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
lmtfa
By lmtfa (11 months ago)

Hey Manny,

Why are you such an arrogant prick. You didn't have to slur Domina and Austin. Shoot, your names a mouthful, hence you will be called "Alphabet". I don't see any photos in your gallery. If the photos represented in you equipment list, a E-PL1 and an Oly 40-150 (hah) I like Austin's better.

1 upvote
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (11 months ago)

Well, if I'm a prick, what does that make of you? I haven't insulted anyone, and I won't begin now, though you do deserve it.
Yes, I have a zoom. It's the worst of my 5 lenses (the other 4 aren't listed) but it's handy sometimes. Why? Is that anything of your concern? And the camera is an E-P1, by the way.
«Prick»! Have manners, you're not addressing to one of your buddies.

0 upvotes
domina
By domina (10 months ago)

In a free market the only thing an image buyer needs to know to buy an image is the image itself, the rights they get over it, and the price. Buyers don't and shouldn't have to know who the photographer is, because then they may discriminate against photographers because they're black, transsexual, Jews, or unknown to the public. Reputation has no place in a free market because essentially reputation is discrimination. When a newspaper hires a photographer, they may discriminate on many ways, thus hiring economy is non-free, but when they buy ready images they may be less discriminating and this allows the free market to work better. This way, the best images will be sold based on the strength of the image itself, rather than based on the marketing capabilities or reputation of the photographer, thus it's a win for the free market.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (10 months ago)

domina-

You're assuming the photo editors have perfect access to what freelancers are producing, that's a standard problem with freemarket advocacy, it requires a perfect flow of information--so doesn't exist.

No, what the owners of the paper like is being able to use something for free. (Sounds like the SunTimes has been using the printing presses of the Chicago Tribune for free for a few months.)

0 upvotes
Jun2
By Jun2 (11 months ago)

The news paper is not doing well, cutting cost to buy some time.

Comment edited 15 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (11 months ago)

Or to increase profits...

0 upvotes
Antony John
By Antony John (11 months ago)

"No place in the Sun for Chicago's Photographers" seems an apt headline for the newspaper.
Pretty sad really.

7 upvotes
SW Anderson
By SW Anderson (11 months ago)

That would make an excellent headline for a story about what the newspaper is doing.

0 upvotes
timmyweb
By timmyweb (11 months ago)

Using a previous poster's example of the Boston bombings, I can't think of one video that could even remotely be considered "iconic", whereas there are several still photographs that are already iconic.

I witnessed a dramatic event that John White of the Sun-Times photographed, a giant, several-stories-tall flame spurting from a broken gas main, and his images still rank higher than my first-hand memory of the event. The power of a still photograph, taken by a skilled professional, can make a much stronger impression than video clips shot by a professional (for the record, I shoot both still and video), let alone video clips shot by an amateur's camera phone.

11 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (11 months ago)

Happily, our own local paper still has its own photographers, but that department went through a lot of turmoil when the dark room guys got fired, as there was no more any need for them.

The company offered any of them, who were interested, in early retirement (that applied to the older photographers as well). The rest of the copyists were, if they were interested, were sent off to school and came back as bona fide photographers, some of them becoming very skilled indeed.

Most of the copyists were girls, so now the paper has quite a few female photographers, as well as male.

0 upvotes
Cane
By Cane (11 months ago)

And a still of that same scene shot by a by standard on a cellphone would be equally iconic. It's the giant flame you remember, not that the aperture was perfect.

1 upvote
Ubilam
By Ubilam (11 months ago)

Blame the CMOS chip and Adobe. Not just pro's can do this thing well now. Join the defunct painter's club now.

1 upvote
jberk
By jberk (11 months ago)

Sad and bad

0 upvotes
Jacques Cornell
By Jacques Cornell (11 months ago)

Here's a silver lining. All those silver-spoon photo school interns who've been depressing professional photojournalists' wages by working for free at newspapers for years will realize that there's no paid gig at the end of that rainbow and quit donating their labor.

1 upvote
T3
By T3 (11 months ago)

As photographers, we see things in a photo-centric way. But the reality is that the Sun-Times is right on the money by moving towards "more video content with their news" and "are focused on bolstering our reporting capabilities with video and other multimedia elements." I, for one, much prefer to see news stories that have accompanying videos, rather than static photos. When I'm on the New York Times or BBC news sites, I *always* seek their video content. After all, videos are just many, many photos strung together. Video images tend to be more informative, and allows you to "see" the news better than just looking at a single photo. After the Boston Marathon bombings, I wanted to see videos from the event, not photos. So with consumers wanting more video-centric news coverage, why keep a large full-time still-photography staff? Better to just get whatever few photos you might need from freelance photographers instead, and put your money into video instead.

0 upvotes
Ubilam
By Ubilam (11 months ago)

Its nice that news folks are dedicated to reporting / capturing the news versus hoping for a 'freebie' to come in. There has to be a change, but firing all like they did is wrong.

BTW, video is not always better and a great photo can say alot.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
T3
By T3 (11 months ago)

@Ubilam - "BTW, video is not always better and a great photo can say alot."

Conversely, one can say that most newspaper photography really isn't that "great" at all, and as a result they can't say nearly as much as video that includes sound, movement, action, commentary, etc. Most newspaper articles have, at most, one single, static, and oftentimes boring photo next to it. And it will only give you one, single fraction of a second of time, from one particular perspective. In terms of informational density, video is so much better. For example, if there's a news story of a tornado, I'd much rather watch a video of that tornado tearing through a town, rather than a static photo. Likewise, with the Boston Marathon bombings, it was the video footage that gave me a better sense of what it was like to be there, as opposed to the photos. Video gives you a much better "eyewitness, you are there seeing it" experience.

0 upvotes
Franka T.L.
By Franka T.L. (11 months ago)

the problem is that we are not getting quality Video coverage nor good videos either these days; freelance or in house, Video or Still, quality media content simply demand quality and creative talent , not to say a decent journalistic instinct to tell and document as well as good understanding of journalistic ethic and standards.

The firing of the Photo Staff is more about cutting cost than for real moving the content and content quality forward, unfortunately.

0 upvotes
Ubilam
By Ubilam (10 months ago)

@T3. I don't use the internet to get my local news. I prefer a real newspaper. They are pretty good at their photos. BTW, you'd not enjoy 'watching' that video of a tornado ripping thru a town if you ever actually experienced one firsthand. Trust me...

0 upvotes
DotCom Editor
By DotCom Editor (11 months ago)

It was nice of them to wait until after Roger Ebert's death to do this.

2 upvotes
T3
By T3 (11 months ago)

I think Roger Ebert would have understood. After all, he pioneered the idea that people wanted to *watch* a movie review rather than just reading a movie review (along with maybe a few static still photos alongside it). The result was his movie review show with Gene Siskel. Even then, he realized that video was the next big thing. Likewise, the Chicago Sun-Times are simply doing that same thing with their news coverage. The Sun-Times realizes that it's not just enough to have a static photo alongside their articles. They realize that people want video. They want to watch video. They want multi-media content. They want to see and hear the news, in full-motion video. Old media was typed words on paper, and static photos. New media is typed words on anything *but* paper, accompanied by multimedia content (audio, stills, and video).

0 upvotes
Ahmet Aydogan
By Ahmet Aydogan (11 months ago)

People want video content because they don't have any attention span. They don't have the ability to read, analyze a still photo nor do they really care about anything other than a soundbite or tweet. It's a shame that the medium of commercials, video, a passive, highly manipulative vehicle, is now consumed by the illiterate masses. The same criticism can be applied to photos, but at least with static images there is time to contemplate and revisit.

1 upvote
T3
By T3 (11 months ago)

@Ahmet Aydogan - people want video because it offers more information than a single photo. What is a photo but a single slice of time? Video is the closest thing to actually being there. When the Boston Marathon explosions happened, it was watching the videos that gave you the best sense of actually being there. And who says you can't contemplate or revisit a video? Some videos of news events I've revisited many times, and those moving video images have stuck with me because it made me feel like I was there witnessing the event unfolding before my eyes, second by second, minute by minute. That's what video can do. How many times have the Zupruder footage of John F. Kennedy's assassination been revisited and contemplated? Countless times!

The long dominance of photos as the primary image medium of newspapers has mainly been as a result of limitations in technology: you can't put a video into a newspaper! But now that people get their news on the web, newspapers have to adapt.

2 upvotes
SW Anderson
By SW Anderson (11 months ago)

Skilled, experienced, talented news photographers know and routinely do things cell-phone snappers and savvy amateurs with good gear can't be counted on for. Pro news photographers go places with news media credentials that freelancers can't access. Pro's forge ties with people in positions of authority — ties that come in handy when something big happens. Pro's stay all night at a major calamity, while cell-phone-toting civilians sleep. Pro's wade through floodwaters and brave blizzards while amateurs take snapshots from their deck, then retreat inside where it's warm and dry.

The Chicago Sun-Times will continue to get photos, some pretty good ones at times, I expect. But the newspaper has just forfeited an abiding and obviously undervalued strength. It's one more brick out of a wall that appears to be crumbling. The greatest shame is that neither newspaper decision makers nor much of the public appreciates that they're losing something of value.

7 upvotes
Total comments: 291
123