On May 30, the Sun-Times laid off its entire photography staff of 28, including Pulitzer Prize winner John White,
in a move management deemed essential to clear the way for more online
video. The story sent shock waves through just about every newsroom in
North America and far beyond media circles.
News staffs so expert at asking tough questions for a living now had a
new, anxious one to ponder: Is the photojournalism we know as much a
relic as the musty old darkroom?
"I think photojournalism is coming to a dead end, at least in
the way it was practiced in the late 1970s and mid-’80s,” says Mark
Hinojosa, director of interactive media at the Detroit News. As
a veteran journalist who rose through the ranks as a photographer,
Hinojosa says this realization saddens him. And he’s hanging on in
Detroit, at least for now.
“We still have a full photo staff,” he says, “but I could
easily see a day when the staff is much smaller and it’s used for big
events, and the day-to-day stuff will be handled by reporters. It will
be OK, but something will be lost. Why? Because a writer doesn't see the
visual potential in a story, and can't always find something that's
Look beyond the Midwest — where reports of impending layoffs currently dog photographers and reporters at the Chicago Tribune — and you’ll see much evidence that photojournalism has entered its twilight hours...