Chicago Sun-Times Lays Off Entire Photo Staff, Will Give Reporters iPhoneography Training

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The Chicago Sun-Times, one of the remnants of traditional paper journalism, has let go its entire photography staff of 28 people. Now its reporters will start receiving “iPhone photography basics” training to start producing their own photos and videos.

The move is part of a growing trend towards publications using the iPhone as a replacement for fancy, expensive DSLRs. It’s a also a sign of how traditional journalism is being changed by technology like the iPhone and the advent of digital publishing.

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When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, reporters for Time used the iPhone to take photos on the field and upload to the publication’s Instagram account. Even the cover photo used on the corresponding issue of Time was taken on an iPhone.

Sun-Times photographer Alex Garcia argues that the “idea that freelancers and reporters could replace a photo staff with iPhones is idiotic at worst, and hopelessly uninformed at best.” Garcia believes that reporters are incapable of writing articles and also producing quality media, but she’s fighting an uphill battle.

Big newspaper companies aren’t making anywhere near the amount of money they used to due to the popularity of online publications and blogs. Free news is a click away nowadays. Getting rid of professional photographers and equipping reporters with iPhones is another way to cut costs.

The iPhone has a better camera than most digital point-and-shoots, and more importantly, it is in everyone’s pocket. It’s a great camera that’s always with you, and that makes it an invaluable tool for any journalist. There will always be a need for videographers and pro photographers that can make studio-level work, but the iPhone is proving to be an invaluable tool for reporters in the modern world.

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  • Mrcjones

    What crap. As someone who works for a large company, it is awful how large companies treat workers. From furloughs to riffs, it’s all about the profit with pressure from investors and wall street. Just irritates the hell out of me.

  • technochick

    For many photos a reporter with an iPhone will likely be fine, not great but fine. But a trained photographer with an iPhone will still likely produce better photos. Pity they didn’t keep a few folks around for features etc.

  • robbmontgomery

    Witness the work and then you’ll see what has been sacrificed.

    A special gallery and a film interview with John H. White.

    ??http://j.mp/sun-times-photos

  • Tcphoto1

    The title should have been, Bean counters vs Artists. This simply shows how little management thinks about those that actually do the work. I’m sure the managements retirement plan is protected when the Sun Times folds.

  • xexen

    What are they going to do about zoom lenses. Are they going to get up close to the action? Are they going to rely on Associated Press for all of their close-up shots?

  • Gregory Wright

    Hate to see people losing their jobs through no fault of their own.

  • jeffbriant

    this is definitely not going to help their subscribers. Lowering quality of pictures… what next? Maybe they’ll offer weekend creative writing classes to the night doorman to write the articles and fire the journalists.

  • uhmorphous

    There is a photographer’s eye that can’t be substituted, and a focus (pun intended) that is necessary for a really good shot. There’s no way a reporter focusing on content can also focus on capturing that shot. I’d imagine this will be hard on reporters as well, although at least they’ll still have their jobs. Very tough spot for everyone. Let’s hope they’re not shooting themselves in the foot.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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