In a controversial move, the Chicago Sun-Times, the city’s oldest daily newspaper, has fired its entire photography staff and is offering reporters lessons in “iPhone photography basics,” according to veteran journalist Robert Feder. The change comes following an increasing dependence on smartphone-captured photographs for newspapers and online publications in recent years, whereby reporters (or even civilians) can shoot on-site images of events as a story unfolds.
As explained at Feder’s Facebook page:
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.
While former Sun-Times photographer Alex Garcia has described the move as being “idiotic at worst, and hopelessly uninformed at best,” the newspaper’s gamble on iPhone-powered photography for its publication can be said to reflect the current state of the market.
After all, though the iPhone 5 may not sport the outright best camera on the smartphone scene, Apple nevertheless touts the handset as being one of the world’s most popular cameras. Most people, and, one would expect, the majority (if not all) of the Sun-Times’ reporters in the field, will have some kind of smartphone at their side. With the ability to connect to a cellular data network nationwide, images shot using such a smartphone can be saved, uploaded, and may appear online to an audience of millions within seconds.
Whether laying off a newspaper’s entire photography staff is a wise move, however, is of course a subject of debate. Sure, the change will save the Sun-Times money, but the counterargument asserts that what’s at stake here is the “great tradition” of newspaper photography itself.
What do you think?