Chicago Sun-Times Lays Off Entire Photo Staff

Out of Chicago, we see yet another example of the contraction of the newspaper business:

The Chicago Sun-Times has laid off its entire photography staff, and plans to use freelance photographers going forward, the newspaper said.

About 20 full-times staffers received the news Thursday morning, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Here’s the paper’s statement:

“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.”

The head of Chicago’s newspaper guild is saying that the union is looking into their options, but they likely don’t have many here. It’s entirely possible, of course, that many of the freelancers that the Sun-Times uses will end up being former members of the photography staff, but they’ll be paying at a much lower rate most likely and the former staffers will be competing against other freelancers in the process. Additionally, one item at Jim Romenesko’s blog says that the paper plans to have reporters gather photos using their phones going forward.

It’s a pretty shocking development, but given what’s been going on in the industry for years now, it’s hardly surprising.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Media,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Gromitt Gunn says:

    And Peter Parker was *this close* to finally getting healthcare!

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    the paper plans to have reporters gather photos using their phones going forward

    Hardly a new idea. For the last half dozen years or so there’s been a guy going around ptiching this idea to newspapers. Forget the name.

    Expect the same thing from TV news organizations. Good small digital video cameras are cheaper than videographers.

  3. john personna says:

    Camera-phones affect this two ways. One, they are point and shoot. Two, they tend to be present at any news event. And so … can you get a photographer out there … or should you just have a media rights person negotiating with someone on the scene?

  4. CSK says:

    A lot of news sites encourage their readers or viewers to upload their videos and photos of breaking stories to the site, which then runs them. Do these people get paid? It strikes me that these new sites are getting a lot of free content by encouraging audience participation–content that they also own the rights to thereafter. So cheesy.

    I’m happy to be corrected if I’m wrong.

  5. john personna says:


    He said, as content, on someone’s blog 😉

  6. Sam Malone says:

    Another example of Obamacare reeking havoc on the little guy.

  7. josh says:

    yay new media!