November 8, 2008

Where have all the image specialists gone?

Now that I am back home and do not have a full-time job I accept freelance assignments from newspapers around the state.

While at a football game in Lexington a couple of weeks ago I saw my friend Helena shooting video. She works for the Herald-Leader in Lexington and up until a month or so ago was strictly an image specialist. That means when photographers would send in photos she would tone them and prepare other images for publication in the print and web editions of the newspaper.

As many newspapers around the country have done the Herald-Leader let 10% of their newsroom go. Helena kept her job, but she is not always at her desk waiting with baited breath for images to pile in. The images are processed in Indiana then put into a que for the designers to use. Why do I bring this up? Because,other than the fact that many of the people who lost their jobs have families to support, now when I shoot an assignment I have no idea who to call and talk to and find out if the images made it where they were supposed to go.

This trend happened not only in the McClatchy newspaper chain. The Associated Press closed down many of their photo desks and moved them to New York. This was a problem sometimes because the people now getting photos were not in the same state I was in. This caused confusion on more than one occasion because image specialists would put in the caption information the photo was taken in Decatur, Ga., instead of Decatur, Ala., which is where I was.

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