10 June 2013

Downsizing of Photojournalism

I knew for quite some time that professional photojournalism was on the downslide, tumbling tumbling as fast as the rate of acceleration and not a bit slower. It does not surprise me to see yet another full staff "lay-off" due to corporate downsizing and profit making mongols in the newspaper industry. The Chicago Sun-Times is quoted as saying,

 "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."

 I understand that news video is increasing in demand for online news but it is not all that should be considered when reporting the news...unless people want just headlines and quick blurps without any real content. In reality this type of news leaves the population sort of ignorant as to what is really going on in the world and why whatever is going on is going on. Sure, one can use a still from a video to create a photograph but the quality is not the same, the angle is not the same and the story is not the same as a still. Will citizens of America see the difference in the quality of both the news and still image? Or will our citizens just turn a blind eye, stay silent and let what happens happen. Below is an image of the first freelance photographer assignment for the Chicago Tribune and tell me if there is a difference:

Nice photograph huh?

I have the feeling that the reporting will change around the same lines.  Pretty soon our news will be full of misspelled articles, unchecked facts without any responsibility for its' contents.  Just wait and see.

There is another problem.  As in most changes those who have "been around" know the difference but those that are young in the world will not know and thus, it will all be accepted as "normal" and good content.  We are building a less educated America and the news media insults our intelligence.  Yet, we allow it.

I can't believe that those who actually read the news enjoy waiting some time to change from one page with online news?  Turning a page takes time because it involves blocked cookies and spyware.  Good by turning a page with ease.

I would rather sit down with a cup of coffee and simply turn the pages any day.  I can take it outside, I can read it in bed, I can read it at a coffee shop and I can read it inside.  I can plop the good old print news and take it into the countryside, lay out a blanket and eat donuts and coffee to my hearts content.  I do not need to fight with the glare on my screen, plug in extension chords, carry around a laptop bag or worry about spilt coffee.

Bottom line?  The Sun-Times found other ways to acquire images without having to pay for them and they will get the quality as my example above.  I already posted a response to when CNN said that they no longer need photojournalists because they can relay on citizen journalism as a valid source for their news.  So does that mean if I have an iphone, or cannon point and shoot camera I am a press photographer?  Here is an interesting article in the NY Times:  "Do Newspapers Need Photographers?"

Or consider the fact that they want to use their reporters to double as photojournalists.  Let's consider this fact.  One, they will not get paid more for their double duty.  Two, they have spent their lives preparing to work with text, not image taking.  Three, they will miss the "action shots" because they will need to spend their time jotting notes about the event or the interview.  They will not have the time to engage in great photojournalistic shots.

Below is a great Blog from Rob Hart, who was laid off from the Sun-Times:

"Laid off from the Sun-Times"

One fellow photojournalist responded with this, "They're going to use freelancers - hire and fire policies, no need to pay for cameras, cars, pensions, health care - no moral responsibility to anyone providing images or video. Force reporters to shoot iphone pics/video, pay them nothing extra for the extra time and effort because as we all know, just as a photographer can do the job of a reporter standing on his/her head, so a wordsmith can easily do the job of a photographer - NOT! It all comes down to making the bottom line look as attractive as possible at time of sale to Koch brothers or any other taker. It's false economics, false accounting, short term, short sighted greed motivated policies. Such is the way of capitalism these days. Who gives a shit about real people? Just as long as shareholders, hedge fund managers and the banks are making their cut, the peasants can eat bread whilst the emperors parade around naked eating cake...............No need to look at what's happening in Spain, Greece, Turkey or anywhere else where the 'peasants' might just have had enough of this crap."

-Well said!