There is some not so sunny news over at Chicago Sun-Times as they have laid off most if not all of their photography staff—about twenty to thirty individuals. In a statement released by the Sun-Times, they claim this comes as a change in needs, basically, in the digital world—a dark cloud that hangs over all journalism:
“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.”
According to The Chicago Tribune, the Sun-Times will use freelance photographers instead. Crain’s also adds reporters as the staff’s replacement. Reporters will be required to have photos and video with their stories.
What does this mean? That cloud that hangs over journalism, it’s the new front that’s been developing for quite some time. Slowly, the cloud has been sending down lightning bolts, frying the old to make room for the new. There are two points about the new world of journalism in the Sun-Times action and solutions that stand out: freelance and multitasking.
Freelance is a funny word. It could be those professionals who have the title “freelance photographer.” But, that title could be picked up by anyone not employed to be photographer but has sold a photo. The internet is full of amateur photographers—whether they’re good or not is a different story. So, maybe Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s words, “There’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore,” weren’t that far off. Look at the Boston Marathon bombings: Most of those pictures were taken by bystanders with smartphones or taken by surveillance. And if the act passed by UK’s Parliament, which ignores copyright of orphan works, means anything, companies and organizations want these internet randoms more than ever.
Secondly, we’re in a world that loves multitasking. Absolutely adores it. Right now, one of my editors is sitting in front of a huge iMac, a MacBook Pro and his phone, which he is currently browsing on. But a more obvious sign things are changing is, during my university journalism courses, multitasking was a recurrent theme while they taught us to capture mediocre pictures and videos. New journalists are starting to be pre-equipped with Sun-Times’ standards.
The Sun-Times is going with the times. Is it a good thing? I can’t really say. Change isn’t always welcomed. And, it’s not always good.
The above photo ‘Bye bye old camera’ by Eran Finkle via Creative Commons.