The Chicago Sun-Times, which laid off 28 photographers in 2013, has now dismantled its video team. I’m told the unit had two full-time staffers and two freelancers; executive producer Dustin Park, who led the team, was cut in early January and his former colleague, Peter Holderness, was let go today.
When the photographers were laid off nearly two years ago, the newspaper said there was a need to shift to online video. Wrapports, the Sun-Times and Chicago Reader parent, says it plans to use freelancers and remaining newsroom staff for video work.
I’ve said for a while that the problem with newspapers isn’t that they were slow to adapt to the digital age. It’s that they were slow to adapt to the newspaper age. Theoretically, these are the people charged with figuring stuff out and telling everybody about it. And now they can’t even report accurately on the state of things inside their own building from one month to the next?
We’re creating a new digital-first paradigm thing! We’re focusing more on visual storytelling! We’re doing hyperlocal! We’re doing macro-local! We’re going vegan! We’re eating meat we killed ourselves! More video! Less video! Leaner! Meaner! Fatter! Wider! Stuff! Things! ARGLE BLARGE FLAP FLAP FLAP. Make up your fucking minds.
In what world is this a good way to communicate to your customers? Forget the Internet and print and video and photo. Forget all of that. This is just bad business. This is lousy, and lazy, management by panic spiral. It’s inept at a core human level. These people could fuck up selling beer on St. Patrick’s Day.