The Idiocy of Eliminating a Photo Staff

Yesterday, the Chicago Sun-Times laid off every single one of their photographers:

The company is also preparing to supplement its freelance staff with reporters to shoot more video and photos, according to sources.

Bullshit. Chicago media critic Robert Feder elaborated on Facebook:

Sun-Times reporters begin mandatory training today on “iPhone photography basics” following elimination of the paper’s entire photography staff.

Chicago Tribune photojournalist Alex Garcia explains why this is bullshit:

An iPhone is just an iPhone. It doesn’t have a telephoto to see way past police lines or across a field, ballroom or four-lane highway. It doesn’t have a lot of manual controls to deal with the countless situations that automatic exposure will fail to capture. How many situations are 18% gray, anyway?

That’s just part of the story on a technical level. Reporters are not photographers, and an iPhone cannot capture the detail that a digital SLR can. No matter how much I love my iPhone’s camera, it is no replacement for a dedicated camera when the shot matters.

The Sun-Times is also replacing their permanent photo staff with freelancers, to whom they do not have to provide a benefits package or pay a salary. It’s rough for old media, but laying off a photo division is an atrocity.