I Survived Another Layoff; What’s Next for Newspaper Photojournalists?

As I survive my sixth layoff in five years, I question the future of photojournalism and am worried about the path we are headed down. Almost every newspaper in the county has laid off, bought out or done away with positions in the last few years. Everyone is trying to cut back on expenses, trim the fat, and keep profit margins up as the economy starts to take a dive. “This is necessary, these are hard times, it has to be done,” we’re told. Newspapers cannot afford to have investigative reporters, or fat staffs, or experienced journalists with higher salaries.

Maybe so. But many of the newspapers in this country are reaching a breaking point. We have cut so much and so deep that stories are no longer being told, and we are no longer serving our communities. And I am not just talking about investigative journalism, I’m talking about the local high school swim meet or the death of a local soldier.

I have nothing against young journalists; I am still relatively young myself. But admittedly, we are cheaper and less experienced than our seniors, and we lose a lot when we cut our experienced people. Our older, more experienced staff members have seen things change in the communities firsthand, know the history because they saw it happen, know the people to talk to and where to find the truth.

This worries me about our business — because without that experience, we cannot dig as deep. With the smaller staffs, we don’t have the time to look past the press releases, and we are not telling the stories that need to be told or being the watchdogs for our communities.

What is the solution to save our struggling industry? I argue that we were not struggling until the cuts started, and the quality suffered, and we lost subscribers and advertisers. So I think we should return to having well-trained, experienced staffs and report the news in our communities and around the world, the news that goes beyond the press release or the 10-second blurb on TV. Any other ideas?

Here are some thoughts from David Simon and James O’Shea (watch the video).

[tags]photojournalism, newspapers, layoffs[/tags]

4 Responses to “I Survived Another Layoff; What’s Next for Newspaper Photojournalists?”

  1. my dear
    i heard that so many times,but dont worry.if you good enough you wont suffer loosing your job.every story you cover has only one way of telling it.go there and tell the story.not in a way somebody else wants,not in a way that should be but the way it is only.WITH YOUR OWN WAY,no matter the cost.photographers have to listen,smell,touch and watch and than in split second to pres the button.then you got the picture nobody else have,than editors like you.unfortenatly very few are like that
    anyway good luck and keep shooting

  2. You are so right. Not just experienced photojournalists lose their jobs, but more and more, magazines and newspapers, are cutting their critical photo editors to be replaced by interns and underpaid staffers to choose their most important visuals. I have live this myself, even in South America where I am based, where despite big profit margins on newspapers, cutbacks are rampant. Good luck.

  3. not very encouraging for someone whos spent a lot of money on getting a photography degree and is about to hit the harsh world of finding a job in the buisness. especially as i have very little experience compared to others, all I have is a degree...is it worth anything anymore?! good luck to all photographers out there! but are we all 'photographers' now-a-days?

  4. This doesn't apply to just photojournalists. It also applies to us reporters/editors as well. In addition, a lot of smaller papers are doing away with full-time photographers and making reporters do both writing and photography.

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