Recently, the Chicago Sun-Times announced they were letting every one of their staff photographers go. The next day, the newspaper held a mandatory meeting with their reporters, handed them iPhones, then taught them Photography 101. The idea is? why hire photographers when we can make the reporters shoot the pictures to cover the stories?
While the idea of a newspaper launching their photographers is unsettling enough, I have a few questions that keep coming into my mind about it. The first is, “Wait. What?”
After going through a few more questions, a couple of others worth noting are:
“Are the reporters going to be paid more to take pictures?” Their job classifications have now changed, and with the newspaper saving all that money by not hiring photographers, surely they will reward better photography by those who now have to do it.
“What about the Associated Press (AP), Reuters, etc.?” This past weekend I was at the Chicago Blackhawks game at the United Center. The place was swarming with various photographers, ranging from the Blackhawks’ own photographer to a number of “wire service” guys (like AP and Reuters). Now, it is my understanding that nearly all newspapers contribute to the Associated Press (for example), and also use the Associated Press’ images. So in the case of the hockey game, was the Sun-Times just going to use AP images instead of using their own photographers? And if that’s the case, at what point will the AP step up and say “Um, wait. You can no longer keep taking our high-quality images and contributing back “meh-quality” iPhone images.”
Since this has been a fairly new development, it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. Chicago‘s other daily newspaper, the Tribune, has been gleefully and mercilessly reporting on the situation. It frightens me a little bit to think that, while the Tribune is happily reporting how bad this is, that some management-guy in some office in their building is also watching it getting inspired to do the same, depending on how it plays out.
Obviously, none of this has to do with the image above, but I wanted to write about this anyway.