01 Dec 2011
CNN: We don't need photojournalists!
Last month, CNN quietly announced it was laying off "a dozen" photojournalists across its US bureaus as, it says, the network can now rely on user-generated content thanks to new consumer technologies
Jack Womack, CNN's senior vice president of domestic news operations, wrote to his staff last month to announce the cuts. In his email, shared by Associated Press and Reuters, he says:
For the past three years, we have been analyzing our work process across Image + Sound, both in the field and in our editing and production areas.
We also spent a great deal of time analyzing how we utilize and deploy photojournalists across all of our locations in the U.S. We looked at the evolution of daytime and evening line-ups. We analyzed how stories are assigned and more importantly the ratio of stories assigned that actually make it on to our networks or platforms. We know that we have to sharpen our focus on stories assigned to ensure that this great work gets on air. We looked at production demands, down time, and international deployments. We looked at the impact of user-generated content and social media, CNN iReporters and of course our affiliate contributions in breaking news. Consumer and pro-sumer technologies are simpler and more accessible. Small cameras are now high broadcast quality. More of this technology is in the hands of more people. After completing this analysis, CNN determined that some photojournalists will be departing the company.
While CNN "cannot begin to thank these individuals enough for their service, and that "they leave with our respect," it's hard to discern where this "respect" actually is. Here, we have a network saying that they don't need professional photographers because citizen journalists can do a good-enough job thanks to new technologies.
Reuters reports that "nearly a dozen photojournalists were given pink slips -- four in New York, five in Washington, one in Miami, and one in Los Angeles."
But, I guess, we shouldn't be surprised. In the hours following the Haiti earthquake, CNN took to Twitter to use, without permission, Daniel Morel's images of the devastation. The same images that later won a World Press Photo prize, and landed CNN, as well as Agence France-Presse, Getty Images, CBS and ABC, into legal trouble.
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