Local reporters, photographers and labor leaders gathered with picket signs outside the Chicago Sun-Times building Thursday, a week after the entire photography department at the newspaper was let go.
Cars driving by the rally beeped their horns as around 150 supporters chanted “quality, not cuts” and “no more layoffs.” Many of the faces in the crowd matched the bylines and names from the newspaper: Longtime Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown carried a sign that said, “John H. White - ‘nuf said.” White, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, marched just a few steps behind him, along with other former Sun-Times photogs.
Craig Rosenbaum, executive director of the Chicago Newspaper Guild, says they’ve filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board that says the layoffs violate federal law. The Guild represents 20 of the photographers who were laid off.
“This is one of the few cities that has two papers, the Tribune and the Sun-Times,” he said. “And how are you going to be able to compete with the competition when you don’t have two professional photojournalists?”
Rosenbaum says the Guild is planning another rally for next week.
A statement from the Sun-Times Media group after the layoffs said the decision was “difficult,” but noted the media business is changing rapidly, and audiences want more video content with their news.
Meanwhile, many of the former Sun-Times photographers say they’re trying to move on to freelancing and other projects. Rob Hart, who started at the Sun-Times over a decade ago, says he was serving dual roles at the protest Thursday morning: marching alongside his former colleagues, and photographing the protest for a freelance assignment.
Lauren Chooljian is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her @laurenchooljian