Fired Photographers Picket Sun-Times Building

Photogs demand jobs back

Thirty laid off Chicago Sun-Times photographers and their supporters demonstrated in front of the newspaper's building Thursday morning, exactly one week after learning they were losing their jobs.

Newspaper officials say the decision to let the photographers go are part of its move toward more digital content, particularly video. Reporters will be responsible for taking photos, along with freelance photographers.

"It's just numbing," photographer Scott Stewart said. "It still is to this day, and it's only been a week. It's like losing a family member."

Craig Rosenbaum, executive director of the Chicago Newspaper Guild, says 18 of the 30 fired photographers are part of the union, but they're fighting to get back all of the jobs.

"We were totally stunned by this, and we're out here trying to get the community behind us, and so far we've had a lot of success." Rosenbaum said. "They say they want to move to a digital age. Our photojournalists can do digital, they're extremely talented. They can do still, they can do digital, these are the best in the world."

The photographers chanted slogans such as, "They say cutbacks, we say fight back." Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer John H. White was among the former employees demonstrating in front of the building.

"There's no place in my heart for anger. I'm hurt, sure, I'm human, I'm disappointed, but I don't curse darkness, I light candles," White said.

Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis -- no stranger to picket lines -- showed her support by demonstrating as well.

"We have Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers and they want to replace them freelance, so we have photographers who don't necessarily understand the city, they don't have a context, of the stories and don't understand it's not just about taking pictures, it's about telling a story," Lewis said.

Thursday's front page story of the Sun-Times is perhaps a sign of things to come. One reporter was responsible for the text, photography and video.

But Scott Stewart won't be reading or watching it.

"Truthfully, I can't. I can't pick up the paper, I will not go on the web site, I'm trying to be steadfast about it ... I'm still a Sun-Times man in my heart and my soul, but I just physically can't right now," Stewart said.

Sun-Times officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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