Yesterday morning the paper called its 28 photographers together for a mandatory meeting and gave them the news. The Sun-Times says its going to use freelance photographers and reporters themselves to shoot photos and video going forward.
Their official statement reads:
"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."
Robert Feder who was the TV and radio columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1980 until 2008 reports that the paper is now training its reporters on how to take photos with the iPhone.
Sun-Times reporters begin mandatory training today on "iPhone photography basics" following elimination of the paper's entire photography staff. "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," managing editor Craig Newman tells staffers in a memo.
Alex Garcia, a rival photographer at the Chicago Tribune, expresses his outrage at the idiotic decision.
"The photographers they fired were not button-pushers, they were journalists and trusted members of their communities. Some of them were deeply connected to areas of Chicago in ways that a freshly minted multimedia journalism graduate from New York will never be. Everyone in the city, it seemed to me, knew John White and Brian Jackson. I couldn’t walk up to a crime scene or a neighborhood center without them receiving slaps on the back and having doors thrown open. Scott Stewart had deep access to firefighters and fire officials in the city, on a first name basis..."
"By eliminating their deep knowledge, connection and trust to their communities, the Sun-Times has signaled to its readership that it doesn’t really care. And so begins the death spiral. "
Read More [via Fortune]