It's all over but the crying. No doubt you heard the bad news last week. The Chicago Sun-Times, the city's second-largest newspaper, unceremoniously fired its entire photography staff of 28 people. Almost in the next breath, the paper's management announced that reporters would undergo mandatory training on iPhones. (As if iPhones in the hands of amateurs could ever take the place of professional photographers' perspective and skill). The management's desperate decision sounds the death knell for the Sun-Times, long respected for its outstanding photography.
If I were a Sun-Times reporter, I'd start looking for a job elsewhere. And if I were a Sun-Times subscriber, I'd switch to the Chicago Tribune which (along with the Los Angeles Times) is waging its own fraught battle, trying to keep the right-wing Koch brothers and a many-strings-attached buyout at bay).
“Humanity is being robbed by people with money on their minds.”
The shocking Sun-Times action reflects a disturbing and short-sighted trend among upper management (including Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer), who seem to consider that any creative talent is expendable. They expect employees to do more with less - taking on more and more duties, with such juggling often affecting the quality of their work. Mayer has drawn flack for her dismissive comments about photographers ("there's really no such thing as professional photographers anymore)." She later attempted an apology of sorts on Twitter, but made no formal statement via Yahoo.
''We see daily that our lives are terrible and little, without continuity; buyable and salable at any moment, mere blips on a screen; that this is the way we live now. Memory marketed as nostalgia; terror reduced to mere suspense, to melodrama.''
First quote above, John White, brilliant former Chicago Sun-Times photographer and Pulitzer Prize winner.
Second quote above, Adrienne Rich, "What is Found There."