“The decision by Sun-Times Newspaper Group to eliminate its entire photography staff, with its 500 or so collective years of professional experience, has everyone wondering what could possibly justify such a move,” Dan Mitchell writes for Fortune. “Is it union-busting? A way to squeeze profits out of a rapidly sinking business? A genuine, if seemingly clueless, attempt to shed a fusty ‘old media’ image and forge ahead into the glorious digital future? Sadism?”
Mitchell writes, “It could actually be a combination of any or all of those things. The newspaper’s executives have been mostly mum, but their public statement was all about ‘forging ahead.’ Here’s that statement in full: ‘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.'”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Welcome to television, circa 1990, Chicago Sun-Times. Better late than never, we guess, but maybe 23 years is a bit too late?
Did you know that, even in local TV (UHF stations, even), until around the mid-90s there were local commercial “writer/producers” who did not shoot or edit video at all, but relied on staff photogs and editors to shoot and edit (analog A/B roll, no less) their spots? Same for local TV news reporters. The look on their faces when they were told to learn how to shoot and edit or find a new line of work was either priceless or painful, depending on your perspective. If you were already doing it all for half the pay, it was mostly the former, we can assure you. The next wave of producers and TV reporters knew how to, and did, it all. They still do. And the end product was better and faster because producers who know what can be done with the equipment doesn’t waste time on impossibilities and instead writes and produces with full knowledge of what needs to be done, how long it will take, and how to do it.
Yes, it’s too bad that the era of specialization is largely over, but, after a shakeout, we expect newspapers will find what TV discovered long ago: Yes, there are good “one-man bands,” but your old non-shooting reporters likely aren’t among them. The product will suck for awhile, but then new blood will arrive and the few quick learners with talent already on staff will bloom and together they’ll raise the quality to acceptable levels. In the meantime, get ready for some awful photography in the Chicago Sun-Times.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Tayster” for the heads up.]