When Photojournalists Get Fired


(I’m not saying this is how the conversation went down at the Chicago Sun-Times last week, but I’m saying it could have.)

Good morning, everyone.

Is the entire photography staff here? …26, 27, 28…yes, it looks like everyone is present and accounted for, so let’s begin.

We don’t need you.

Okay, okay, quiet down. Let me rephrase that: we need images for our paper, we just don’t need actual photojournalists to take them. I’m not sure if you were paying attention to Yahoo’s recent press event, but professional photography is dead. I mean, who doesn’t have a camera today, right?

Oh come on, don’t look at me like that.


I have really appreciated all you’ve done for the paper over the years. You’ve been at the right place at the right time; you’ve camped out with those crazy long lenses in all kinds of weather to get that front page shot. You somehow managed, in spite of everything, to bring back to the paper pretty incredible photographs. You knew what I wanted and you went the distance to get it, and I’ve always been very proud of your photographs.

But now? Well, I gotta be honest — I just got an iPhone and let me tell you all, it does one damn fine job. I stood there in the Apple Store thinking, “Why the hell am I paying photographers on my staff when I could just outfit all the reporters with iPhones?”

In between interviews and reporting on events, they can just snap a few shots. It’s a brilliant plan. You don’t even really need to know anything about photography — you just push the little circle that has the picture of the camera. I’m even getting imprinted cases for them with the Chicago Sun-Times logo and the words, “iPhoto-journalist.” See what I did there? I thought it was catchy.


Excuse me? What did you say? More goes into great pictures than just clicking a button? Oh please…don’t act like you’re a Pulitzer prize winning photographer.

Oh…wait…you actually ARE. Well, if it makes you feel better, I’ve carved out $50 from the budget for a whole line of professional photography iPhone apps. Think about that before you accuse me of sacrificing quality.

Now, before you go storming out of here feeling like I slighted you and your profession, let me fill you in on some other changes we’ll be making:

We plan on phasing out reporters completely, too. Why am I paying writers when I get the same thing off Twitter for FREE? I’ve got my son and his two high school buddies set up in the basement to monitor Tweets while they play Halo, and we’ll just post those. It won’t happen right away, of course. One cut back at a time.


Well, I guess that’s about all. I know you all are highly skilled photographers and should have no problem getting work. You’ll be fine, just fine. My sister actually has a thing going photographing newborns in her garage, so you might want to think about that as an option, too.

So, good luck and farwell. Oh, and on your way out will you send in the staff videographers? I need to talk to them, ’cause those iPhones have really amazing video, too.

Image credit: Sun Times Building by Mike Miley, Screenshot from House, Eric at Penn Station Tongue Out By Charlie by akeg, Futuresonic 09 Twitter screen by gill wildman

  • Mansgame

    So much passive aggressiveness with this one…


    Print Journalism is dying and we can all admit that. BUT, firing your photography staff does not help keep it alive at all. Might as well close up shop completely at this point. Hire the 8th grade writers and call them students so you don’t have to pay them, and then just start teaching a class called how we killed the media as we know it. Chicago Sun Times can consider themselves nothing but dirt to just about everyone at this point.

  • Justin Kern

    Horrible move by a paper that is sinking fast (photography isn’t the only thing they can’t afford anymore), but, ugh, why are we moving from links and news briefs to this kind of writing Petapixel?

  • olafs_osh

    I read this only till the image of Hugh Lourie and don’t feel bad about myself.

  • Kyle Clements

    As a business, people come to you for creative content. Dumping an asset like content creators to save a failing business just seems foolish and short sighted.

    How is that any different from thinking, “Brrr, it sure is cold in the middle of this long winter. I’d better burn down my house to generate a few hours of warmth”

  • lori

    commenters: you realize this is a parody right ?

  • johneve

    I freelanced for a magazine a few years ago that did more or less the same thing. They did not need the photographers anymore because the guy doing the interview could snap a few shots since he was there anyway. The images got.. well a lot worse. Advertisers started canceling their adds because the magazine was less appealing to them since the number of subscribers went down drastically. No adds no money. No money no magazine. Sometimes cutting costs can be very expensive.

  • peaceetc

    That sums everything thing up right there. All businesses should read it and learn from it.

  • AC

    Let me guess PetaPixel only employes full time professional photographers to illustrate its articles right? No, but you at least pay freelancers right? No, Mike Miley, akeg, gill wildman got compensated through exposure right?

  • Robert Fitzgerald

    Of course the real issue isn’t that papers don’t want professional photos. What they are counting on is that photographers will work for them freelance and accept less money for good work. There are still professional photographers. Way more than the world of print media could ever keep on pay-role. And why should they when they can just stimulate more supply and lower prices by firing everyone.

  • venicementor

    Obviously, getting what they pay for.

  • UatuSees

    Penn Station ftw!

  • tobaccos

    Smartphone may good at street, for paper like sports, speeches, etc, you still need those PROs to help you out.. I think this is just a pretense…

  • UrsusMichaelus

    Much like the vaunted web-monkeys of today who can’t spell, can’t use correct grammar and sometimes have nothing to say. But they say it anyway and call it effective communication.

  • UrsusMichaelus

    It’s satire, but only barely.

  • olafs_osh

    gosh, of course. but it’s a bad quality one.

  • herzco


  • Courtney Navey

    yeah I still don’t get how you fire an entire staff of photographers…

  • Will Mederski

    i think Ken Rockwell has a very real, albeit blunt, perspective on this:
    (which is exactly why he is one of few gear reviewers i trust the opinion of)

    “Today, we no longer need ‘photographers’ for news. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has an iPhone, and when news happens, the people who are part of the news already have the story. It makes no sense to send out a captive news crew when there are already people there with the pictures and live video — who will let those photos be used for a lot less money than paying a captive news crew.”

    read to the last paragraph. post starts about a page down the site:

  • Will Mederski

    a salaried news crew is not creating the content newspapers need anymore, at least when i comes to ‘developing stories.’ pedestrians with iphones are.

    sure, they will create BETTER content, but news agencies survive by having the story FIRST. and that is the battle a professional photographer who only gets the page/call after the event has already happened can’t win.
    over the kid standing on the corner with her iphone watching the sinkhole/fire/etc.

  • Will Mederski


    VERY good point.

    they just pull everything from flickr. the same thing any news agency would do if they were a by-the-minute, live news company.

    oh, wait. that’s not petapixel.

    they could have paid a professional photographer to create a cute dramatic re-enactment of the playful narrative. but no.

    “hey guys, let’s just get some attribution-only filler flickr images for this passive aggressive article about how terrible it is that companies are employing professional photographers…”

  • Ash

    Spot ON!!!

  • Michael Zhang

    Readers don’t come to PetaPixel to enjoy world-class photojournalism, and I don’t know of many blogs that hire photojournalists.

    I’d also be quite surprised if anyone on our team won a Pulitzer Prize, haha.

    Thanks for the feedback, AC :)

  • Justin Kern

    Actually I think he has a strong point and you prove it, “Readers don’t come to PetaPixel to enjoy world-class photojournalism, and I don’t know of many blogs that hire photojournalists.” All the readers and commenters (myself included) spent their clicks here rather than somewhere that does. This is new media and it is one piece of the newspaper decline puzzle.

    If people don’t expect great PJ from blogs and online news sources, then the competition (newspapers) won’t be expected to produce the same. I’d settle for better writing.

  • Tzctplus -

    That. But many stubborn people around here just don’t get it …

  • Nitin Kapoor

    Well said :)