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The Media Iphone

Chicago Sun Times Swaps iPhone Training For Staff Photographers 316

Posted by timothy
from the cross-training-nervous-reporters dept.
frdmfghtr notes (via Cult of Mac) that "the reporters of the Chicago Sun-Times are being given training in iPhone photography, to make up for the firing of the photography staff. From the CoM story: 'The move is part of a growing trend towards publications using the iPhone as a replacement for fancy, expensive DSLRs. It's a also a sign of how traditional journalism is being changed by technology like the iPhone and the advent of digital publishing.'"
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Chicago Sun Times Swaps iPhone Training For Staff Photographers

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    It takes horrible pictures.
    At least use the Samsung Galaxy Camera GC100 or something similar.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 02, 2013 @10:44AM (#43888713)

      Why an iPhone? Why any phone? Why you remove progressional photographers from the equation you'll get amateur quality photography. Next they'll be teaching them how to use photoshop to fix their crap pictures (or even assemble them from stock photos so they don't need to be bothered going out at all).

      • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @10:59AM (#43888803)

        When you remove professional photographers from the equation you'll get amateur quality photography.

        When you remove subscription paying readers from the equation, you get less money to pay professional photographers.

        • by lxs (131946) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @11:30AM (#43889017)

          And then you lose one more reason for people to subscribe. I think that is the definition of a death spiral.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ShanghaiBill (739463)

            And then you lose one more reason for people to subscribe. I think that is the definition of a death spiral.

            What would suggest they do instead? Go bankrupt? Fire the reporters and have the photographers write the stories? Most subscribers left before they made this change, so going back isn't going to reverse the readership decline. Sometime I take photos with my phone, other times I use a real camera. Is the difference noticeable? Sure. But not different enough to matter in a news story, and certainly not enough to make me buy a subscription. If sending only a reporter rather than reporter+photographer a

        • Either that or the gigantic push for immediacy has been hurting the newspaper industry for some time, and relying in a professional photographer fighting through crowds with an SLR, only to then pull the memory card, put it in a laptop, find the right pictures and then upload them along to the office for processing, cropping and adding to an article takes far longer than "click, and it's already waiting on your computer" that you get from both iOS and Android anymore.

          Print journalism is turning into a b
        • by greenbird (859670)

          When you remove subscription paying readers from the equation

          When you remove actual investigative reporting of real news from the equation...

        • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @12:49PM (#43889581)

          The reason to get a real camera is that you can get photos in conditions where a phone won't. Also, they last for years and are far less likely to be damaged in the field. I've got a Canon 7D and even with something like an F2.8 28-75, that cost me $400 a decade ago, it still whips the crap out of what you'd get with a phone. In total that would be a $1500 or so set up. Which would likely last many, many years.

          As for professional photographers, you get what you paid for. Ultimately, you need somebody else to do the photography, because you can't interview and take photos of whatever happens at the same time. And a professional is much more likely to get the photos that are needed quickly, rather than futzing around trying to figure out how to best capture the scene.

          All this BS about how expensive photographers are, is generally by people who have no idea how much it costs to find that you've been at the scene and don't have any usable shots. Might as well outsource the journalists as well and just collate tweets while we're at it..

          • Just wait till people stop reading the news and it becomes tumblr.com/~fox

            Than they can just reblog official state endorsed photos of everything! Maybe our tax money can go to even paying for the right to view them!

      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        "Why an iPhone? Why any phone? Why you remove progressional photographers from the equation you'll get amate"

        The remaining Chicago Sun Time readers are all over 70, they won't notice the lack of any progressive photographs.

      • is good enough [campl.us]. I think it was the Netscape guy who said software would eat the world. There's little or no tech left in photography. Sure, you can do a whole bunch of stuff to make the photos look nicer to a pro, but to a guy like me? I can't tell the difference. It's like your 4k displays. My eyes aren't good enough to tell.

        Basically, scratch one more profession off the list of what little Johnny can grow up to do some day.
      • by amiga3D (567632) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:12PM (#43889769)

        They should have let the reporters go and kept the photographers. The quality of the reporting would probably have stayed about the same.

    • I have 4 different "compact" camera (no-name,Olympus, Fujifilm and Samsung), I've taken pictures from several phones (dumb nokia, HTC and Galaxy S2 (with a 8MP sensor)... but I will never return to these now that I've my DSLR... And if I had bought one from the start, I'd never had to buy the other one.

      - less noise on low light conditions
      - much better lenses which allow real zoom (not digital zoom) and such
      - Much faster to take pictures (no delay which means that you take the precise image that you w

  • by csumpi (2258986) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @10:40AM (#43888681)
    clues:

    - training in iPhone photography
    - firing of the photography staff
    - iPhone as a replacement for fancy, expensive DSLRs
    • Re:must be a joke (Score:5, Informative)

      by Internal Modem (1281796) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @10:48AM (#43888729)
      They replaced their pool of photographers with freelancers (sports, feature stories, breaking news, etc...). In addition, reporters will now carry iPhones in part to capture low resolution video for their website. It's not really the DSLR v iPhone the headline claims.
      • Apologies for replying to myself... This may be a sign the newspaper is going to a digital-only format in the not-too-distant future.
    • Has been going on for almost a year Guardian hands 20 reporters iPhones for added video coverage http://www.journalism.co.uk/news/guardian-trials-iphone-video-reporting/s2/a549679/ [journalism.co.uk]
    • by FreeUser (11483) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @10:53AM (#43888767)

      clues:

      - training in iPhone photography
      - firing of the photography staff
      - iPhone as a replacement for fancy, expensive DSLRs

      It's real, there was quite a bit of time dedicated to this story on Chicago Tonight a few days ago. The big joke is the Chicago Sun Times itself...once a respectable newspaper, now transforming itself into little more than an amateur blog. And using iPhones with their subpar optics...in the hands of people who know nothing about photography...the paper will be carrying Facebook quality pictures, or as another mentioned, the same pic as every other outlet via AP/UPI.

      Whatever bozo made this decision should be fired...his/her 6-figure salary will probably pay for 2 or 3 decent photographers, and they'll get a whole lot more value out of those photographers than they will the moron who made this decision. But then, I don't think the Chicago Sun Times is long for this world anyway (an end hastened by such collasal mismanagement).

      What we're watching is the final deathrows of a dying paper, in an industry on life support.

  • by MadCow42 (243108) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @10:41AM (#43888687) Homepage

    Who cares what equipment they're using... A piece of crap camera in a skilled photog's hands can still get a great photo.

    The real story (and tragedy) is they think that non-pro photographers (writers and amateurs) can do the job. Watch the results - photo quality (content wise, maybe not just technical wise) will plummet. Maybe they think that doesn't matter, who knows. And for things like sports, they'll have to use wire service photos now for sure. You can get great photos from AP/Reuters, but they'll be the same photos as other news outlets.

    Sad sad, and short-sighted decision IMHO

    Madcow

    • by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @11:00AM (#43888813)

      The real story (and tragedy) is they think that non-pro photographers (writers and amateurs) can do the job.

      I don't think they think this. I think they can't justify the cost of creating "real" photos shot by on-staff pro photographers (which come with health care, benefits, taxes, etc.) using DSLRs when "crappy" pics shot by non-pros will do 95% of the time. They can always hire pros as contractors for the 5% of the time they actually need "real" shots -- or license the shots they need from some syndicated source.

    • by ultranova (717540)

      Sad sad, and short-sighted decision IMHO

      It's the same thing everywhere. Austerity is fashionable, so everyone is trying to compete by cutting costs, which means they're cutting quality, which means there's less and less reason why anyone would want their shit for any price.

      It's hit newspaper industry especially hard, since they're directly competing with the Internet, but the entire world economy seems to be in a similar death spiral of austerity over investment.

    • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @11:21AM (#43888955)
      I used to bump into a Sun-Times staff photographer at the local Starbucks once in a while. He had approximately $15,000 in LENSES hanging around his neck.
    • Magic money tree? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phoeniyx (2751919)
      Do you have a subscription for the Sun or a similar newspaper? If you do, good for you. But, there are millions who stopped paying for their news. Without this revenue, how exactly are the news outlets supposed to have all these professionals on staff? Magic money tree? The more people get their news from the "internet", the less money will be spent on gathering the news. This is just a natural outcome of the digital age. If it reduces the quality, well.. That's just part of the game.
    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)
      This is what happens when you can't sell papers, can't have a paywall, and ad revenues decline. What you don't realize that soon this will not be just the death of newspapers, but the death of what little true, professional, journalism is left. Soon, it will be all be bloggers, opinion panderers, and spin artists. If a person can't make money at a profession, that profession dies. Because everyone expects on-line news to be free and don't read newspapers anymore, print media are finding it harder and harde
    • by only_human (761334) * on Sunday June 02, 2013 @03:00PM (#43890421)

      The real story is that they want their P/L to look better Right Now because:
      "Some 40 parties have expressed interest in acquiring some or all of Tribune Co.’s newspapers, according to sources close to the situation. The Chicago-based media company hired investment bankers in February to manage inquiries for its eight daily newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times."
      http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-tribune-company-20130515,0,1793743.story [chicagotribune.com]

  • That's like teaching a jockey to ride a broom stick instead of a real horse because the staff needed to feed the horse has been too costly.
    Now, where is the difference between a normal human being taking a pic of currrent happenings or the reporter?
    There is none, anymore. Anyone can ride a broom stick, except the jockey might do it with a bit more skip-walking, but not really gaining an advantage.

    • Now, where is the difference between a normal human being taking a pic of currrent happenings or the reporter?

      Just so long as the reporters getting this training realise that they are next for the chop - just as soon as reader-submitted "news" becomes more plentiful.

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      It doesn't matter who takes a picture of the event, what matters is that you have a picture to attach to your article.
      I don't really understand what's your point.

      There is no difference whether it's the reporter or anyone else, and I don't see why there should be.

    • If you only said coconuts instead of a broom stick, more would have understood the analogy. . . .
  • Accordingly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by evil_aaronm (671521) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @10:45AM (#43888715)
    I propose that the editor be replaced by my second-grade grand-daughter - I mean, she can edit just as well, right? - and the "fancy, expensive" computer that the editor currently uses be replaced by an Etch-A-Sketch. Or Crayons.
  • by femtobyte (710429) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @11:03AM (#43888831)

    The move is part of a growing trend towards publications using the iPhone as a replacement for fancy, expensive DSLRs.

    No, the move is a trend towards replacing trained skilled professionals (in this case, photojournalists) with cheap, unskilled labor (reporters who might be fine reporters, but don't know shit about photography and photojournalism; or even "user submissions" from Joe Random's cellphone). The cost of a DSLR is nothing compared to wages for a professional. Unfortunately, the *results* from dumping the photojournalists are also nothing compared to using the professional --- and it's not a matter of camera quality. A professional photojournalist with an iPhone would produce better photojournalism than non-experts with a DSLR. The Chicago Sun Times isn't throwing away "pixel quality" so much as "journalism quality" --- no wonder newspapers are dying.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > A professional photojournalist with an iPhone would produce better photojournalism than non-experts with a DSLR.

      Nope. The iPhone simply isn't up to the task. It doesn't matter how much expertise you throw at it.

      • by femtobyte (710429)

        Depends a lot on the task. An iPhone won't be much good for the sports page, but not all news stories are about dim, fast-moving, and distant subjects. For daylight and decently-lit interior shots, an iPhone is perfectly sufficient for web-sized and terrible-quality-print (newspaper) images. Double-page glossy color magazine spreads won't look so great. When not working at the margins of technical capability, a professional who knows how to frame an image to "tell a story" will consistently produce *far* be

    • by auric_dude (610172) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @11:26AM (#43888995)
      The Idiocy of Eliminating a Photo Staff by Alex Garcia http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/assignment-chicago/2013/05/the-idiocy-of-eliminating-a-photo-staff.html [chicagotribune.com] offers a view from one working in that area.
    • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @11:31AM (#43889025) Homepage

      This makes sense - if the point of journalism is to deliver high-quality photography of the kind that other photographers will appreciate. So much of old-fashioned journalism is a gigantic circle-jerk. It has been repeatedly proven that nobody needs this sort of hugely expensive photography in order to tell a story. A couple of snapshots are enough. "But how will anyone win the Pulitzer Prize?!?!" Yeah, the local newspaper won't win that anyway. It's more of a political award than an acknowledgement of talent.

      Frankly, the people who will be providing said snapshots are ordinary folk posting on social media. Who cares what the f-stop was, or if someone took a shot facing into the sun? It's a freaking photo, it will be gone in 24 hours, why spend any money on it?

      Professional photographers are, predictably, butthurt about the whole thing as it directly attacks their livelihood. When I became an adult I was just shocked at how horridly expensive photography is. And how stupidly overpowered this photography was for my needs. Nobody wants to pay $1500 for a photo of some ducks at a lake. I'm just illustrating an article, thanks. And yet until now this sort of market has existed. Insane, and it is quite gratifying to see this sort of elitist nonsense finally obsoleted.

      Oh, don't believe me? One need only spend time on pro photographer forums to find out just how prevalent the snobbery is. Let's not even get into Nikon vs. Canon.

      • by femtobyte (710429)

        One need only spend time on pro photographer forums to find out just how prevalent the snobbery is. Let's not even get into Nikon vs. Canon.

        Been there, do that. The general dynamic that I've observed is that the amateur noobs can be insufferable gear snobs --- immensely arrogant that their new prosumer DSLR is the pinnacle of photographic awesomeness. The working professionals, who carry around $30k of camera gear in their bags, disdain gear/brand-snobbery with a passion, and contribute spectacular photos to the cellphone picture threads.

      • When I became an adult I was just shocked at how horridly expensive photography is. And how stupidly overpowered this photography was for my needs. Nobody wants to pay $1500 for a photo of some ducks at a lake.

        The key thing here is that it's overpowered for your needs.

        You get enthusiasts in all sorts of fields who purchase stuff that are far more advanced/expensive than is easily justifiable by a lay person.

    • by brit74 (831798)

      no wonder newspapers are dying.

      I'm pretty sure you've got the cause and effect backwards. Newspapers are dying because ad-revenue is down. Why is is down? Because people are buying fewer papers and getting their news online and because (even though they move their paper online to follow their customers) internet ads pay less than newspaper ads. Cutting their staff is a symptom of declining revenue. Now I guess we watch all the people with ad-blockers complain about the decline of the quality of the n

  • by jools33 (252092) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @11:08AM (#43888861)

    Thom Hogan (Nikon expert) has a very critical take on this here [bythom.com], one which I happen to agree with fully, to quote Thom:
    " If you're in the content business, there's one simple rule you have to remember: create the best content for your chosen media. First, you can sell great content to customers (circulation revenue). Second, you can sell your access to a great set of customers to others (advertising revenue). Corollary: if you don't invest in the content, you'll die. First, because you don't attract a large enough audience and can't hold them. Second, because the declining audience will scare advertisers away. Finally, if you just run from your chosen medium to try to dominate another one, you're playing moose to someone else's elephant. Prepare to get stepped on."

    • Don't know about dead tree editions, but a lot of online "newspapers" don't publish hi-res images on the website. Instead I often see low-res images with no option to enlarge.

      That's not taking advantage of the web. Some of these guys are dinosaurs and don't know what to make of online media. I'm not speaking of Chicago Sun Times specifically, but other newspapers suck when it comes to images on their online presence.
  • Then we'll see "self pix" like remote TV reporting. No need for a camera person to tag along and no need for a remote van with that tall transmitter tower that can get mixed up with the electrical wires overhead.

  • This is a dark day in the recording of human history. The people now responsible for capturing the most important events of the human age are neither masters of their craft nor using the best available tools. I almost couldn't think of a more ridiculous scenario.

    • The people now responsible for capturing the most important events...

      ...aren't working for the Chicago Sun-Times anyway.

  • When you're getting rid of A and bringing in B, isn't it better to say you're swapping A for B, rather than B for A?

  • when they use such low res images in print or online, what's the point of having fancy camera? granted that goes for the entire industry. in the era of hd, there is no acceptable reason to not have links to the high res photos on any news site.
  • Readers will get pissed that the photos are so bad and go elsewhere. RIP Chicago Sun Times.
  • ...Chicago Sun Times fires printing press staff; trains reporters in the use of Canon Bubblejet BJ-2000.
  • Neither the Chicago Tribune nor the Chicago Sun-Times has any significant local pictures on their web site today. There's a mug shot (both papers have the same one) and a picture of some stolen merchandise (from the cops). Both are just feeds from police agencies.

    Here's a local story in its entirety: "Three people have been charged in the wake of a fatal shooting at a party in the South Side Avalon Park neighborhood. Three uninvited guests were asked to leave a family party in the 8400 block of South Con

  • by An dochasac (591582) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @03:14PM (#43890505)

    If you're following the news about Google Glass, you'll have heard that some people hate having their picture taken. [slashdot.org] This is a fact that nearly every photojournalist has to deal with. Only those who've been in the industry a very long time will be able to blend into the background and capture the scene without becoming themselves a reality-distorting distraction. The best will do this without disturbing the relationship and trust the reporter must build with the people being interviewed. They might even become "the bad cop" (does anyone remember The Animal [wikipedia.org] from Lou Grant? That jerk photographer that both the interviewee and reporter can share a laugh and a beer with while the reporter builds her story.

    Give the reporter an iPhone or DSLR or Google Glass and the reporter becomes that jerk photographer. The relationship between reporter and interviewee disappears as quickly as you can say, "So-long Chicago Sun-Times."

  • by W2IRT (679526) <pjd@panix.com> on Sunday June 02, 2013 @06:11PM (#43891549) Homepage

    I shot freelance for a newspaper in Toronto during the 80s and 90s. And although the work was a lot of fun, I think its time is long over. Consider the adage from dead tree papers: If it bleeds it leads. How many different, artistic ways can you shoot the following, that hasn't been done a zillion times in the past:
    1) Large or medium-sized structure fire--this was my specialty.
    2) Personal injury accident.
    3) Victim(s) being transported.
    4) Reminder to set clocks ahead/back.
    5) Look how Hot/Cold/Snowy/Icy the weather was yesterday!
    6) Perp walk or subject under arrest.
    7) Politician making a speech on in a media scrum.
    8) Drug/weapons seizure evidence on the table.
    9) Presentation of a giant cheque to a lottery winner or charitable .org.
    10) Devastation after a large natural disaster, governor/official doing official tour
    11) Sad kid/parent after a bully stole their lunch money, bicycle or all the toys for Christmas presents at the poor house.

    Now. Go fetch today's paper (good doggie!). How many of the above items do you see in the hard news section? Now factor this: If it's a major disaster, fire, accident, etc, the news editor will be fielding calls from hundreds of people with photos of the event. Probably some with pro-sumer levels of kit. If that isn't available they'll buy a wireservice image and run it. Everything else mentioned is shootable with a phonecam or a shirt-pocket cam, and the level of knowledge needed to shoot it is somewhere between "f/8-and-be-there," and "push-here-stupid."

    Sports is an entirely different kettle of fish, and I don't know how they're going to handle Bulls/Black Hawks/Bears/Cubs/Sox games. Again, probably just buy freelancers' materials or stuff off the wires.

    Gone are the days when a newspaper NEEDS actual photographs. Unless you're living under a rock the audience already knows what the governor looks like, what a perp-walk looks like, a building fire, a traffic accident or the President making a speech. We can get that anywhere. The hard news reporting is what I care about (not that there's all that much of it these days). Pretty pictures I can find online. They made the right call.

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