Capital Times shifts from print to web, staffer says photogs are “going to be run to death”

The National Press Photographers Associated reported February 7, 2008, that staffers of the Madison-based Capital Times newspaper were shocked earlier in the week when management – with little or no warning – announced the paper is shifting its focus from its print edition to the web.

The 90-year-old newspaper will stop printing its six-day afternoon edition and shift to publishing a tabloid-sized edition only twice per week while expanding its website.

Capital Times chief photographer Rich Rygh was interviewed in the NPPA story. Here is his reaction to the news:

“It was a surprise to the staff,” chief photographer Rich Rygh told News Photographer magazine today. “We came in this morning for the usual news meeting and were told there would be a staff meeting at 8:30. We had no idea at all.”

Rygh has been at The Capital Times for 30 years.

“For photo, it’s a major change in our department. There’s me and four full-time photographers. In the new plan there’s only going to be two staff photographers.” Rygh and three others will take the severance package the paper offered today. “And those two photographers that are left, they’re going to be run to death covering everything seven days a week.”

“We don’t have much of an option,” he said. “It was basically, ‘Take your buy-out and go,’ so unless something changes I’m going to take the buy-out. I’m 57 years old and I had hoped to retire here, but I can’t see working in the situation where it’s going to be ‘grab a photo anywhere you can and use it regardless of quality,’ that’s unprofessional. They’re also going to have freelancers shoot, and the reporters were told they’ll be shooting for themselves,” Rygh said.

Here is the NPPA’s full report

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