TV Newser reported that the lay-offs impacted "as many as 12 staffers in the Washington, DC bureau alone, four of whom are longtime photojournalists."
In a note to staffers, CNN Senior VP Jack Womack explained that "Technology investments in our newsrooms now allow more desk-top editing and publishing for broadcast and online. This evolution allows more people in more places to edit and publish than ever before. As a result of these technology and workflow changes, CNN is reducing the number of media editors in our work force in Atlanta."
Womack further explained that the network looked at the "impact of user-generated content and social media, CNN iReporters and of course our affiliate contributions in breaking news. Consumer and pro-sumer technologies are simpler and more accessible. Small cameras are now high broadcast quality. More of this technology is in the hands of more people. After completing this analysis, CNN determined that some photojournalists will be departing the company."
That last sentence says it all. Put another way, Womack is saying, "Because there are so many video cameras in the hands of amateurs [unpaid CNN iReporters], we are firing professional photojournalists who have spent years honing their craft. From now on, CNN will only air crap we steal from YouTube and poorly-lit, shaky amateur video. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out."
Womack also mentioned "affiliate contributions" in his note.
CNN affiliates in Miami include Channels 4, 7 and 10. In addition to using video shot by photojournalists at those stations, CNN can avail itself of any video sent to the stations by unpaid amateurs.
At Channel 10, viewers are constantly reminded to send their pictures and video to email@example.com. What does Channel 10 pay for pictures and video? Nada, zero, zip.
So, tonight I was a little surprised to see one of Channel 10's long-time reporter/anchors invite his Facebook friends to send video to the station that could conceivably put some of his colleagues out of work.
In a posting on his Facebook page, Channel 10 anchor Todd Tongen noted that famous photographer Annie Leibovitz sometimes recommends the iPhone when she's asked what kind of camera to buy.
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And then, commenting on his own post, he reminded his Facebook friends, "if you take ANY good pictures or video ... please send to firstname.lastname@example.org."
"YOU ARE the journalist of the future," he crowed.
I'm sure the hard-working professional photojournalists at Channel 10 struggling to pay mortgages and put kids through school might beg to differ with him.
Stay classy Todd!