After layoffs, Sun-Times expects reporters to become mobile photographers
It seems the Chicago Sun-Times is counting on its remaining staff of journalists to also become mobile photographers.
As we reported on Dpreview.com, the Chicago Sun-Times laid off its entire 28-person photography staff — including Pulitzer prize winner John White — yesterday. The newspaper said it plans to use freelance reporters and photographers and blamed the move on a demand for "more video content" from its audience.
Today remaining Sun-Times staff are beginning mandatory training on “iPhone photography basics," as shared via Facebook by media writer Robert Feder and reported by Poynter.org. Feder quoted a memo from managing editor Craig Newman: "In the coming days and weeks, we'll be working with all editorial employees to train and outfit you as much as possible to produce the content we need."
Though smartphone photojournalism has gradually gained acceptance in recent years thanks to pioneers like Ben Lowy, a push for camera phone photojournalism from its reporting staff is sure to continue to create futher discussion about the Sun-Times' new direction.
Chicago Tribune photographer Alex Garcia shared some well-written warnings on his blog:
"Reporters are ill equipped to take over," Garcia wrote. "That’s because the best reporters use a different hemisphere of the brain to do their jobs than the best photographers ... the reality is that visual reporting and written reporting will take you to different parts of a scene and hold you there longer. I have never been in a newsroom where you could do someone else’s job and also do yours well."
He also cited the smartphone's shortcomings as a camera:
"An iPhone is just an iPhone. It doesn’t have a telephoto to see way past police lines or across a field, ballroom or four-lane highway. It doesn’t have a lot of manual controls to deal with the countless situations that automatic exposure will fail to capture.
"The reason why photojournalists have the best equipment on the market is because we use it. Our gear is put through demands that stretch camera technology to its limits by the sheer number and diversity of assignments on a regular basis."
You can read the rest of Garcia's thoughts here.