We’ve come to a conclusion that would have seemed unthinkable a few years ago for a daily newspaper.
We are eliminating the position of staff photographer completely.
We have a seven-day, 8,600-circulation daily and a growing group of weekly and quarterly publications operating with a newsroom of 17 people.
For decades, we had two full-time staff photographers on the daily.
But as our emphasis shifts to digital-first reporting, our news cycle is turned on its head, and we report on things that our news cycle never allowed us to and in formats that our print-only platform and technology never allowed us to, the gaps and opportunities become very obvious.
We can’t afford 80 hours a week of staff time devoted only to still photography. And with a Flip cam video camera in every reporter’s hand, blanketing all aspects of our coverage, we don’t really need dedicated videographers, either. At least not at this stage of our digital progression.
And yesterday’s daily due to space, contributed photos and the way the news came down, had only two local feature photos taken by our full-time staff person. Worth it? While we missed all kinds of opportunities throughout the day and throughout our coverage area to speed more information to a wider audience of people with particular interests?
If we push ourselves on the question, we have to admit that action sports photography is about the only thing that a cross-trained reporter/digital journalist can’t handle themselves, and there is an army of freelancers out there to handle such assignments. And freelancers allow you the flexibility to be in three places at once on busy nights (i.e., high school playoffs time).
So when one of our longtime staff photographers stepped down last month, we replaced the position with a full-time “mobile journalist” who starts her day at 6 a.m. and is focused on digital-first reporting when the demand for that information is highest (6-10 a.m.).
Since making that switch, it has become one of those “no-brainer” moments. So within weeks, we are converting our other staff photographer into the same kind of position, and we’re happy that the person in that job now is willing and excited about making the move.
Matt DeRienzo is group editor of Digital First Media's publications in Connecticut, including the New Haven Register, Middletown Press, Register Citizen and Connecticut Magazine. Contact him at email@example.com.
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