Long-time photographer Gino Donato on his career and the future of local news

Photographer GIno Donato worked in the Sudbury Star newsroom for 28 years before taking a buyout from the company last week.

For 28 years, veteran Sudbury Star photojournalist chronicled life in the Nickel City

Gino Donato spent 28 years as a photographer with the Sudbury Star before taking a buyout this month, as part of chain wide cuts at Postmedia. (Erik White/CBC)

Photographer GIno Donato worked in the Sudbury Star newsroom for 28 years before taking a buyout from the company last week.

It was part of a shakeup at the city paper, one of many papers across the country shedding staff as advertising revenue declines.

Postmedia says it doesn't have exact numbers on how many positions are being lost at individual newspapers.

But Martin O'Hanlan, president of the NWA Canada union representing workers at the Sudbury Star, Sault Star and North Bay Nugget, says about half a dozen jobs are being lost in northern Ontario.

"The reason they're getting voluntary buyouts is because people are so frustrated. People care about the product, they want to be proud of their workplace and I think it's gotten to the point, a lot of people are now just sick of it."

In June, Postmedia announced it was closing down six community newspapers in Ontario and Alberta, including the Kapuskasing Northern Times, and halting the print editions at three other papers in Manitoba and Ontario, including the Kirkland Lake Northern News, in its move to cut costs.

Those changes have come at a rapid pace, something that might not be a good sign for the industry, Donato told the CBC's Markus Schwabe.

"When I was in college, there was some photographers in southern Ontario making a hundred grand just submitting stock images," Donato said.

"Now, it's 30 cents a download."

The proliferation of cell phones and apps that allow users to edit and filter on the fly might also be giving people a false impression of the importance of photographers to the industry.

"People don't realize we don't do any photoshopping," Donato said. "You're not sharpening up your shot, not taking out hydro lines in the background. You can't alter a photo."

"You have to think of that while you're shooting. Otherwise, it's like making up a story."

Documenting Sudbury's history

Donato was a regular presence during news conferences and public events across the city. After news of his departure, many who had rubbed shoulders with Donato took to social media to offer their best wishes.

'That shot sticks in my head'

Out of the thousands of photos Donato shot over his career, he said there more were a few that made an impression on him.

One of the stories Donato wished made the front page was a photo taken during the funeral of Joe MacDonald, a well-known police officer killed in the line of duty.

"The gentlemen at the front of the coffin was Rick McDonald, who was killed six years later," Donato said. "I just find that shot sticks in my head."