Sports Illustrated has been a gold standard for sports photojournalism for most of the magazine's existence — and maybe will continue that tradition. But the last six staff photographers were told yesterday that they are no longer employed at SI. For the record, the final six staff photogs at Sports Illustrated were Robert Beck, Simon Bruty, Bill Frakes, David E. Klutho, John W. McDonough, and Al Tielemans. Sports Illustrated director of photography Brad Smith told the National Press Photographers Association that the magazine will continue to do what it does with photos, just on a different basis. From the story:
"It's true," Smith said. "There was a decision made through the company to restructure various departments, including at Sports Illustrated. Unfortunately economic circumstances are such that it has cut the six staff photographers."
Smith said the plan going forward is "to re-evaluate what's best for the magazine, not just financially but also content-wise. Our commitment to photography is as strong as ever, and we will continue to create the best original content possible."
As early as last summer there were rumors of pending staff cuts at Sports Illustrated as well as at other Time-Life publications because of the company's plan to move this year into new quarters downtown. The new floorspace is considerably smaller, and it will seat far fewer people. The magazines are moving because they can no longer afford the rent where they are, one of the magazine's contributing photographers was told by an SI editor.
Smith said the six staff photographers "have contributed to the success of the magazine and the Sports Illustrated franchise, and I hope that they may continue to do so under slightly different circumstances." He said that while the six are no longer staff photographers, that does not preclude them for continuing to shoot for the magazine if they so desire.
"In my grandest thoughts I hope they will continue to contribute to the magazine," Smith said. "I can't imagine a world where they don't. We just have to figure out what this new structure is."