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Chicago Sun Times Commits Cultural Suicide

Its easy to spot when a newspaper has used a photo grabbed with a smartphone by a Johnny on-the-spot photographer. Usually relating to high profile incidents where the sheer penetration of phones with cameras guarantees that someone will be filming or snapping away.

The photos are generally grainy, out of focus or otherwise sub-par. But that's okay, its the best photo available of the event and we accept the way that it looks in order to help visualise the events that have occurred.

As a day to day regular occurrence though its not acceptable. Snapshots aren't acceptable to illustrate the total content of a newspaper and snapshots taken with a smartphone even less so.

The problem is that every man and his dog suddenly believes that having a camera available all the time makes their shots the latest word in photographic excellence. They really aren't. If you don't believe me take a quick gander at the links in your twitter feed to see how quickly that illusion gets dispelled.

Unfortunately the good people at the Chicago Sun Times - a newspaper of which I know little (not living in Chicago, or indeed the US) has decided to make two fairly terrible decisions to compromise photo journalism for the benefit their bottom line.

The first, to fire all their photographers and ask journalists to illustrate their own stories.

The second to equip them with iPhones to do the job.

Frankly, I can only assume that that this move is intended to aid the sale of the newspaper rather than sales of newspapers.

Photography is a skill and unlikely to be one that journalists working for the title have been hiding away under a bushell. At the same time the iPhone isn't a terrible smartphone camera, but when the average photog packs tens of thousands of dollars worth of lenses and a professional DSLR camera body to attach them to, its going to be found wanting.

Added together this is going to end up being a huge mess.


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