The Chicago Sun-Times laid off its entire photography staff on Thursday morning in a shift toward utilizing more video in its reports.
At least 20 photographers were laid off, according to multiple reports, with the Chicago Tribune reporting that 28 full-time staffers got their pink slips, effective immediately. The Sun-Times has not yet confirmed the number of photographers losing their jobs, but it did issue a statement describing them as an outgrowth of restructuring to meet readers' demand for 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 paper said in a statement. "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 paper apparently intends to call on reporters to shoot photos and video, as many smaller outlets already do. The move by such a large daily was greeted with concern.
The Chicago Newspaper Guild, the union that represents the Sun-Times' photographers and journalists, told Chicago Business that it is considering taking action in response to the paper's "terrible move."
"We will be looking into all of our options, legal and non-legal," Craig Rosenbaum, executive director of the union, said. "We think this is a terrible move for the paper and community."
"The @Suntimes laid off the company's entire photo staff this morning," Erika Enigk Grotto, a woman who identified herself as the wife of one of the laid off photographers tweeted. "Reporters will be shooting with their phones. Solid business decision."
Both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Newspaper Guild did not immediately respond to TheWrap's request for comment.