The Chicago Sun-Times and its sister publications are reported to have laid off 28 photography staff last week in a move blamed on increased demand among readers for online video – captured, not by photographers, but by reporters.

Chicago photographer John H White, hailed as a photojournalism icon, is said to be among the victims.

Mike Borland, president of the US-based National Press Photographers Association, blasted the cuts as ‘outrageous’.

He added: ‘I can’t think of another word to describe laying off all staff photographers while claiming to be “bolstering our reporting capabilities with video and other multimedia elements”.

‘Where I come from we’re careful not to step in that kind of stuff.

‘Does anyone really believe that firing a Pulitzer Prize winner will help bolster any visual elements?’

A statement reportedly issued by the newspaper group last week read: ‘The Sun-Times business is changing rapidly and our audiences are consistently seeking more video content with their news.

‘We have made great progress in meeting this demand and are focused on bolstering our reporting capabilities with video and other multimedia elements.

‘The Chicago Sun-Times continues to evolve with our digitally savvy customers, and as a result, we have had to restructure the way we manage multimedia, including photography, across the network.’