On the Sun Times Firings… One Month Later

On the Sun Times Firings… One Month Later

(NOTE: I do not get any newspapers, nor am I at all interested in newspapers as they are printed… If I want yesterday’s news, I can listen to it on the radio. Newspapers are desperately trying to find a way to keep going without changing what they do. It is not possible, but they will continue to be surprised by every new trend that comes along until they shutter the doors, and sell off the furniture. Not if, but when. That is my personal opinion and of course may shade what I write.)

This may not win me any friends, but I have somethings to say about the Sun firings that I gotta get out. A comment on another thread got me thinking about it like this:

The Sun-Times fired all their staff photographers.

They were indeed the first to do this en-mass, but do remember that the NYT and LAT and SF Chronicle made massive cuts a few years ago. Also add ESPN and a few weekly magazines to the list. I think I read something about Sports Illustrated as well, but not sure if it was the entire staff.

The Sun may be the first newspaper to fire the entire crew, but they won’t be the last. Not by a long shot. Many other papers are down to only a small handful, and whether they fire them or let them retire will be a matter for the owners. (I have no doubt they will NOT do the honorable thing, most of newspaper owners are assholes. While that is not a scientific acknowledgement, I believe it to be true.)

Some say it is all about the bottom line, but I think in this case the bottom line is change.

Spot news has changed. The people on the scene now have technology that can record both video and photographs, and – they are there NOW. A PJ must be dispatched, sent across town, awakened… whatever, but they are usually NOT on the ground when the spot news is breaking.

Most people do not have any discerning taste regarding spot or hard news shots. Just watch the incredibly lame and terrible video that passes for local news any evening. Kids in garages could (and do) make better. How many people call the newspaper to complain about the tonal range or excessive sharpening of that shot of the car accident on Main? Sure, G+ photographers do, but who else?

As to the ‘beat’ photographer… the guy or gal who checks in at the local cop station and hangs around waiting for a grab shot or two… no one cares anymore. That was of interest to the public at an earlier time, it is not anymore.

A quick snap of an iPhone of the mayor giving a press conference is fine for most dailies. Think of the shots where the PJ’s are all lined up with cameras in the air shooting a talking head giving a press briefer… do we really need Pro’s for that anymore? The shots are generally tepid to boring.

Photo from this article which you should read as well.

iPhones in the hands of reporters can make tepid, boring photographs just fine. Add one of them cool camera phone filters and – wow. But I digress…

In this PP article, they show cover/cover comparisons of the Trib and the Sun side by side. And while the Stanley Cup covers can be held up as a “see we told you so” moment, the rest of the comparisons seem to be not so harshly decided. The Sun continues with the same sort of stuff it had before.

Is that surprising? It is disappointing?

Do YOU have a subscription to the Sun-Times?

Just asking…

I do not pretend to like this new trend, but I do recognize that it is a trend that will not be reversing any time soon. Every major story in the past 3 years has been covered by folks on the scene with camera phones and P&S’s, the PJ’s coming last to the scene.

The plane in the Hudson didn’t wait to sink till the PJ’s got there from Midtown, nor were any PJ’s on the scene in Boston when Muslim terrorists blew up innocent people. Riots in the streets of Cairo, to shootings in the streets of Washington DC, the people there have it… stills, video, the whole shebang. By the time the PJ gets there, they body is covered and the cops are taking statements.

That was enough then, it isn’t now. It won’t be going back to the old ways.

The world has changed… and PJ’s better change along with it.

Or risk being the subject of nostalgic documentaries made by those who did.

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About 

I am in love with light.

Also known as Don Giannatti, photography has been the focus of my life for most of my adult years. I have written three books for Amherst Media (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble: keyword 'don giannatti'. Lighting Essentials is my flagship blog and ezine with a slightly different slant than most photography related blogs. If you are interested in becoming a better photographer, check out www.project52.org. Thanks for visiting.

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