Chicago Sun Times Photography Layoffs – News, Commentary, and Humor

The biggest photography item in the news this past week has been of the Chicago Sun Times and their division to lay off their entire photo staff. Pretty much every photography portal is reporting or blogging about it. As a former news photographer, I feel their pain. At the same time, I admit that my reporting colleagues in some cases were able to get adequate (though not great) news photos with their compact cameras. And that the quality of newsprint as a medium can only do your images so much justice. But there will always be a place for high quality professional photography in the news and elsewhere. You just can’t get these shots with an iPhone. Which by the way, current CST reporting staff are undergoing mandatory iPhone photography training. Anyways, here is our pick of some of the best sources of information and commentary on the subject.

CNN Interview with John White

A Pulitzer prize winning 35 year staff veteran, just laid off, waxes poetic about the role of professional photojournalists. Also be sure to check this photo essay from White: Black Chicago in the 1970s.

 

Protesters rally against layoffs by Chicago Tribune

The Rally © LCHOOLJIAN

One thing you might not have been aware of, is that the photographers (and many others) have been protesting against the cuts outside of the Sun Times offices. This report has plenty of details on that. Funny enough, though not unexpected, I could not find this news in the Sun Times itself.

“A statement from the Sun-Times Media group after the layoffs said the decision was “difficult,” but noted the media business is changing rapidly, and audiences want more video content with their news.

Meanwhile, many of the former Sun-Times photographers say they’re trying to move on to freelancing and other projects.  Rob Hart, who started at the Sun-Times over a decade ago, says he was serving dual roles at the protest Thursday morning: marching alongside his former colleagues, and photographing the protest for a freelance assignment.”

 

How to ensure your extinction by Vincent Laforet

“Remember:  while you may not read newspapers, they are the fourth estate… they are the ones that keep an eye on government, corporations, the economy, education, science and do investigative reporting and keep us informed… people who tweet simply don’t have the resources.

Don’t take the contributions newspapers make to our society and quality of life for granted – ever.

And as to the discussion over multimedia/video being more important than photography… Ask yourself what images you have burned in your memory from the past decade…  and then ask yourself if you can name one single “multimedia piece” by name that you recently saw on a newspaper’s website…  you probably can’t (although there are some amazing ones that have been produced.)

And that’s the point:  photography is just as important today if not more than it ever has been.”

 

Modern Journalism by Ken Rockwell

Everyones favorite controversial photographer has spoken out on the issue. Here is what he had to say.

“Art is art, but newspapers are commerce, and this is America. Newspapers need to stay more profitable and have fresher news than the others in town, or they go out of business. It’s a jungle here in America, and this eat or be eaten mentality is what forces us to work harder and keeps America as the world’s largest economy. When people get paid for sitting around just because “good people deserve a good living” as they did in the Soviet Union, the whole thing circles the drain and goes out of business, as the Soviet Union proved when it vanished in the 1980s.

Life is tough, but if I didn’t get laid off or fired from all the jobs I used to have, I’d really be wasting my time and not producing anything. Layoffs are good; they forced me to find better jobs, and then eventually run my own business.

Quality journalism isn’t what counts commercially; it’s all about readership and profits.”

 

A funny segment from the Colbert Report…

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