What If Expertise Actually Matters?


After a few decades working in and with the media, you begin to think you’ve seen it all. But we have to admit to a collective gasp of shock at the news that the Chicago Sun-Times laid off all of their photographers. It’s a cost-cutting move, of course. Rather than paying professional photographers, the Sun-Times will now be using pictures that their reporters snap on their smartphones.

We think this is a really bad decision. Here’s our perspective:

It’s true that today’s smartphones and digital cameras make taking pictures easier and faster than at any time in humanity’s history. But there’s a world of difference between taking a picture and composing an image. Having a camera no more makes you a photographer than having a car makes you a Formula One driver.

Photojournalism is about more than snapping pictures. It’s visual storytelling – a skill that takes a talented eye, as well as considerable training and experience to develop. And to be fair to the reporters, it takes education and effort to become an expert reporter as well. Each professional has spent years developing their skills and talents in service of the readership. The two groups have some skills in common, but they do not overlap. Writing a story and visually capturing it visually are just two different talents.

What do you think will happen to the quality at the Sun-Times when John White is replaced by random-reporter with an iPhone? It’s inevitable that the quality of photos with decrease – and it’s not the reporter’s fault. The skill set it takes to excel at one profession does not overlap with the skill set it takes to excel at the other. To give readers the best possible experience, you need both reporters and photographers, each focusing on what they do best. Expertise has a direct impact on the quality of the finished product!

This philosophy is central to the way we operate here at Technology Therapy Group. We’ve built our team out of highly skilled professionals, each of whom concentrates on their core competencies. Our writers write, our designers design, our programmers code: everyone does what they do best. We work as a team to achieve the goals of a project. These coordinated efforts consistently result in digital marketing campaigns that thrill our clients and deliver results.

No matter what business you’re in, the skills and talents of your employees are your most valuable asset. The pressure to cut costs is something we all have to deal with, but think carefully about cutting back in those areas that have a direct impact on your ability to please your customers. The Chicago Sun-Times may be saving on payroll, but they’re going to pay in terms of quality – and in an industry as competitive as today’s news market is, that’s going to be hard to afford!

We want to know what you think. Leave us a comment and tell us how you feel about this scenario or share your own.

2 responses to “What If Expertise Actually Matters?”

  1. Paul Woodsum says:

    I completely agree with your perspective on this! It is getting increasingly difficult to find quality photography — and so many times people will provide us with small images taken on a smart phone and expect us to be able to print a high quality brochure. Not only do skilled photographers have an ability to compose excellent images, they also understand the technology and how to make it work with a variety of digital and print media. Thanks for addressing this critical issue!

    • cweiss says:

      Thank You Paul!

      We think that in our digital age, it’s easy to discount expertise in the name of convenience and budget constraints, but often businesses suffer when taking such short cuts!

      Technology Therapy

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