Chicago Sun-Times Fires Photographers, Tells Reporters To Take iPhone Pictures

The Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday fired all 28 full-time photographers on staff, telling reporters they would be responsible for taking their own “in the field” pictures and sourcing photos from witnesses.

News of the move was reported by rival paper the Chicago Tribune, which noted that reporters would be receiving “mandatory training” for “iPhone photography basics” so they could capture their own photos and videos for stories.

While it is most certainly true that newer iPhone devices have vastly improved camera technology over former models, the ISO, Aperature, flash, and other settings are hardly DSLR quality, and the devices simply can’t take pictures from far distances with superior quality.

Talking about the idea of replacing professional photographers with iPhone-wielding journalists, professional photographer Alex Garcia calls the idea “idiotic at worst, hopelessly uninformed at best.”

With print newspaper ad revenues shrinking as more publications fight for a voice in the online space, the move appears to be the latest desperate attempt to keep earning a profit in the print newspaper industry.

The move to fire all 28 full-time photographers arrived just as the newspaper was in the middle of negotiations with the photographers’ union. According to that organization, officials at the Chicago Sun-Times never suggested during negotiations that the photographers may be fired.

According to Garcia:

“Most Sun-Times photojournalists I knew, because of their decades of experience, were unsung journalists more than photographers. They knew how things worked and what made communities tick. They found stories and passed them on… They helped to shape stories, correct misperceptions and convey understandings that have deep resonance with readers. I am sure that many of their reporter colleagues would attest to this… by eliminating their deep knowledge, connection and trust to their communities, the Sun-Times has signalled to its readership that it doesn’t really care.”

Experts believe the Chicago Sun-Times will eventually announced that it had erred in firing its photographers, including one Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist, and will ultimately hire back some of the works with part-time status.

Do you think it is silly for the Chicago Sun-Times to rely on iPhone photography and witness photos?