Monday, June 3, 2013

Photographers are a vanishing breed

THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES announced last week it was laying off its entire photo staff. There was a huge outcry in the journalism industry and all kinds of accusations flung back and forth.

But really, what is the big surprise?

I've known a lot of photo guys and gals. Most were very good. I enjoyed working with Phil Carlson and Mike Kipley at The Herald-Whig. While I certainly enjoyed taking photos and doing videos, it was a lot better with one of those guys along to handle the visual content, so I could concentrate on the reporting.

During my years in sports at The Alpena News, I got used to shooting my own pics because the first photo editor I worked with was lazy and clueless. Thank goodness I can't remember his name. Then I came to Quincy and The Whig discouraged us from taking our own photos. I was good with it, but I knew back then things would change.

It came during my final years as a reporter, when we were finally given digital cameras and ordered to do more video. Of course this wasn't supposed to be done at the expense or effort of our usual reporting duties. I was all for it, and it's the nature of the beast - do more with the same or less.

It's the American way, you know.

Supposedly the Sun Times will be leaning more on stringers and outside help for photography duty. And the paper wants to do more with video. In the end, it's all about the bottom line - 28 less people to pay.

 How will it affect the paper?

I don't know. I don't read it. I don't go online to check it out. I'll stay in touch with some Chicago friends to find out. I suspect there won't be a huge difference and life will go on in the Windy City.

Change. Adapt. Do more with way less. Sadly, it's a familiar song and dance.

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