After letting go of its entire photo staff Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times plans to begin mandatory training on “iPhone photography basics.” Media writer Robert Feder referred to the training in a Facebook post, and quotes a memo from Editor Craig Newman: “In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be working with all editorial employees to train and outfit you as much as possible to produce the content we need.”
Friday’s Sun-Times front is quite photo-heavy.
The “idea that freelancers and reporters could replace a photo staff with iPhones is idiotic at worst, and hopelessly uninformed at best,” Chicago Tribune photographer Alex Garcia writes.
That’s because the best reporters use a different hemisphere of the brain to do their jobs than the best photographers. Visual and spatial thinking is very different than verbal and analytical thinking. Even if you don’t believe that bit of science, the reality is that visual reporting and written reporting will take you to different parts of a scene and hold you there longer. I have never been in a newsroom where you could do someone else’s job and also do yours well. Even when I shoot video and stills on an assignment, with the same camera, both tend to suffer. They require different ways of thinking.
Allen Murabayashi ponders how the Sun-Times’ Web design may have contributed to its decision.
In their current three column design, the largest image gets one column. A thumbnail from Getty Images is used in the second column, and then of course, the entire right column is reserved for ads, which are undoubtedly selling for a pittance relative to their ancestral print counterparts.
Part of this particular issue is just bad design, but the other reality of web design is that we have vertically constrained screens, and so we need to fit as much important material “above the fold” as possible or risk losing eyeballs.
“You can’t just slap ads on a Harlem Shake video and call it a day,” Murabayashi writes.