Conjuring memories of the now arguably-infamous decision by The Chicago Sun-Times to lay off its entire photography staff, The Orlando Sentinel has informed its staff photographers that, soon, their jobs will no longer exist. As part of a restructuring plan to attract increased readership, the paper is shifting to a more “videocentric” approach. According to a Sentinel journalist, quoted in an article published yesterday by the National Press Photographers Association, the paper currently has nine staff photographers who primarily shoot stills. After the restructure takes effect, there will be 5 still-photography-only positions left at the paper. The plan also creates two new positions for “mobile photojournalists”. These positions will require staff to shoot video and stills on iPhones or iPads, not DSLRs. Other positions available to former photography staff include video editor, video coordinator and two management positions.
The paper's former photography staff is encouraged to re-apply by the 28th of February for the new visual media jobs. Although the Sentinel’s photography staff is technically being laid off, the new positions intended to replace the photography department are only open to internal applications, reducing competition. However, people in the paper’s other departments are free to apply. Applicants will be notified of the paper’s decision by March 10, with changes formally taking effect by March 17.
While the effect this will have on the quality and quantity of the paper’s media content is unclear, what is clear is that photographers in the news industry are facing major changes. As news outlets struggle to keep up with demand for new media, job prospects for photographers and photojournalists are shifting, often towards a more “videocentric” and on-demand approach.
The paper, founded in 1876, serves the central Florida area and is owned by the Tribune Company.