Chicago Sun-Times Lays Off Entire Photo Staff, Goes All Freelance

Chicago Sun-Times Lays Off Entire Photo Staff, Goes All Freelance

In surprising news out of Illinois today, the Chicago Sun-Times has let go of all staff photographers and will be hiring only freelancers moving forward. The estimated 20 photographers found out about the move this morning. 

The newspaper released a statement suggesting that video is becoming more important in news reporting. "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."

Let's hope this is not a trend. Sadly, I think it will be...

Via Chicago Tribune

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22 Comments

Zach Sutton's picture

A sad day for photojournalist everywhere :-

The real reason for layoffs is why pay a pro when you you can pay some
schmuck kid who always have their phones out with camera $25 for all
the rights to the picture and never have to pay them again.

Jaron Schneider's picture

More devaluation of a skill. Sigh.

You need to get more skills that make you employable. Thats all....
The "all the eggs in one basket" approach doesn't work anymore for any profession.

The end is nigh.

John White's picture

Sad for them, great for many freelance artist.

No. The competition for an assignment will be fierce and bloody. "Underselling" the main principle of application. For many freelancers it's just a prolongation of their suffering.

John White's picture

Just read an article that is stating they actually plan on training people to shoot with their iPhones.. this saddens me the most. Even freelance artists won't go out with their iPhones. And if that's the quality they expect, every person in the world will submit photos and the payout would only be a few dollars.

I always hear stories from "old timers" who say: "back in the day (before digital), i used to make $5k a quarter from selling stock images....now i'm lucky if i get $100 a quarter".....

everyone is a photographer now, right?

When Yahoo acquired flickr, Marissa Mayer (Yahoo CEO) got a lot of grief for saying "there are no professional photographers." Maybe she was being predictive instead of descriptive.

Freelance photojournalist = anybody on scene with a cel-phone camera

JOE DDD (Daniel Dalin Drechsler)'s picture

what's even sadder is, an iphone app post gets more comments and posts than a bunch of people losing their jobs, to amateur douchebags....

"Good enough" mentality has again prevailed. What sounds discouraging to the community of pro photogs is just a reasonable answer to reality. I mean c'mon ... who really cares about high quality images in newspapers or on websites. Nobody. The average customers has no clue about photography and is happy by what he gets from his smartphone camera. Probably the lowest demanding client ever. It was for years a total waste of money to "use" qualified photogs for that sort of photography.

Mark Pearson's picture

Correct me if I'm wrong (I know somebody will!), but I recall that one of the most revered photography magazines of all time, National Geographic, did this several years ago.

the sad thing is that they could have saved their jobs by innovating and changing and learning how to shoot stills and video at the same time like we do: http://45surfer.wordpress.com/ it is far more profitable to learn how to surf the rising waves, rather than stand on shore and yell at them to stop.


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You don't know anything about the situation. This was not truly about shooting video. They all shoot video there anyway. It was about getting rid of salaries. Glad you could try to profit off this as well with your self-promotion. Not that that's tacky at all or anything...

I sense an antagonism towards hope and change and not only surfing the technological waves, but changing, developing, and exalting them? We are not trying to profit off the sad demise of artists and photographers being paid for their work, but rather, we are suggesting that artists and photographers must and should be paid for their work on tomorrow's web. We artists and photographers must stop raging against DRM systems and copyrights and technological innovations, and rather, lead the way. Otherwise the CEOs will just keep proclaiming "there is no such thing as pro photographers anymore," while cutting salaries and paying billions of dollars for aggregators of pro photographer's "worthless" content.

You just copy-pasted your first post from another post here. You're a spammer. And whats worse, you didn't even read what I posted. Your pseudo-intellectualism also has no point related to the article. I'm reporting you as spam.

What? I read your post and I responded to it. And I stand firmly by my contentions. Artists and Photographers must accomplish two things: 1) Establish stronger DRM mechanisms and compensation mechanisms for the content they create, and 2) surf the technological waves of innovation to create better content more efficiently and elegantly. Why are you labeling this spam? Perhaps you could be more constructive by offering your own remedies for the dire situation?

Why the hell are reporters agreeing to do the photographers work anyway? This paper will fold in 5 years.

Journalism is finally catching up to what successful companies want in their employees.
Im an engineer, programmer, photographer, videographer teacher and manager where Im working at.
Companies are looking for people that are great at alot of things, not just one.
Now you will need to be a great photographer and a reporter and videographer to survive the news biz.

Welcome to the real world everyone.

At my full time job Im a programmer / engineer / author / quality engineer / photographer / videographer / trainer / manager.
The fact i shoot on the side got me my job over everyone else. I was the better buy for my company.

If you want a job fellas you need to be great at a lot of stuff.
If you are in the news biz you will need to be a good reporter and a good photographer to boot.
Why pay the salary of two people when you can pay one?