The Chicago-Sun Times laid off its entire photography staff this morning in a purge that cut about 28 staffers, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In a statement, the Sun-Times said the layoffs were due to a new focus "on bolstering our reporting capabilities with video and other multimedia elements." The wife of one of the laid-off photographers claimed on Twitter that this means Sun-Times reporters are being asked to use their smartphones to get pictures, while the Tribune reports that the paper will use only freelance photographers from now on. The whole truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, as more professional newsmakers are forced to confront the question of whether simply owning an iPhone and some hip filters can turn anyone into a decent photographer.
The Chicago Newspaper Guild, the union that represents the laid-off photographers, said via its executive director, Craig Rosenbaum, that it "will be looking into all of our options, legal and non-legal."
Emails to the Sun-Times and a Sun-Times photojournalist who was let go were not immediately returned, but we will update if we get a response. The Sun-Times' statement is below.
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.