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Chicago Sun-Times owner agrees to rehire four staff photographers replaced by iPhones

Back in June, the Chicago Sun-Times laid off its entire staff of 28 photographers – including a Pulitzer Prize-winning member – preferring to rely on freelance photographers and reporters to shoot photos and videos with equipment like iPhones. The Chicago Newspaper Guild, which represents 17 of the photographers, immediately filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. But after some collective bargaining, the paper’s owner, Sun-Times Media, has agreed to hire back four photographers and make a lump sum payment of $2,000 for those not rehired.

The three-year agreement is tentative, as it still needs to be ratified by employees at other Sun-Times properties, but four photographers will be hired within the next 90 days. Although there’s no word on how the rehiring process will proceed, whoever rejoins the company may not necessarily work for the Chicago Sun-Times, but possibly one of the suburban dailies and weeklies. The photographers would be required to perform in a multimedia capacity like video, according to the Chicago Tribune.

As part of the deal, the guild would drop its complaint against the company. The agreement doesn’t resolve the issue of whether news photographers can still be replaced by freelancers and reporters, but it does suggest that press photographers will need to evolve their skills to include videography, as many have already started to incorporate.

(Via Chicago Tribune)

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