Mini Skirt Journalism

"A news story should be like a mini skirt on a pretty woman. Long enough to cover the subject but short enough to be interesting." – Anonymous

Sun-Times changes definition of mobile journalism

Anyone who has been paying even the slightest bit of attention to news about journalism has heard about the Chicago Sun-Times getting rid of its photo department.

Not surprisingly, and rightfully so, everyone and their mother panned the decision. Eliminating is difficult enough, but now our industry has resorted to eliminating crucial elements to bring the public news.

The Sun-Times will turn to iReporters and journalists from other sections to photograph events.

Yep, people who haven’t previously worked in the industry or gone to J-School can now document what happens in your life. The best part: they’ll be using their iPhones. Don’t worry, the publication will offer special training to its iReporters to make sure their photos are top-notch.

Don’t get me wrong: smartphones are a wonderful and increasingly vital part of journalism. If there’s one thing Ball State’s journalism program taught me it’s that those who previously only wrote now must also shoot photos and video. Multimedia is journalism’s future.

But I’ll be the first to admit that even though I’ve shot multiple stories — whether it be on an iphone, point-and-shoot or professional camera — that I don’t have the same eye, skills and editing experiences as some of my photog peers.

Don’t believe me? Just check out two of my friends’ photo blogs. Dylan Buell is an award-winning photographer for the Frankfort State Journal in Kentucky, and Bobby Ellis is a recent Ball State graduate. Both are award-winning photographers, former photo editors of the Ball State Daily News and have received journalism training. Even though we were taught the same journalism principles, we see stories differently, literally and figuratively. They see things I don’t, but more importantly, they can capture them in images to share with the world.

There is a demand for iReporters. Journalists can’t be everywhere all the time and we should use iReporters when we can; we can’t always catch images of that fierce tornado or that random crash. But there is an even higher demand for a professional eye and integrity. A civillian’s grainy image on his or her iPhone just simply isn’t journalism.

The Sun-Times’ announcement makes me wonder if:

  • photographers, and probably everyone else at the Sun-Times, are expendable to the company.
  • it no longer cares about quality. Photojournalism is probably just the start.
  • it doesn’t care about its readers. If it doesn’t care about its readers, then why is it even still a publication? Just close the doors now.

But that’s the upsetting thing. The company may have fooled itself into thinking that it’s keeping more necessary people/departments on staff, but the reality is it’s doing a disservice to its readers and, ultimately, itself.

I just hope this backlash means other publications won’t follow in the Sun-Times’ footsteps.

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This entry was posted on June 5, 2013 by in Controversy, Journalism, Media, News, Newspapers, Photography and tagged , , , , , .

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