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I'm not sure you have any experience in the area you're discussing above. It doesn't sound like you do. For instance, one of my nieces is a staff photographer with a small-town newspaper, but a highly respected one. She shoots with a Canon 1D IV, which is the newspaper's property.
Indeed, most of the small town and even large town newspapers provide the gear ... and it's usually excellent gear ... the kind that won't introduce unnecessary noise and that has accurate, fast AF. The fact is, any newspaper or magazine worth its newsstand cost will be very picky indeed about...Show more →
I'm not sure what your data set is for the assertion, "The fact is, any newspaper or magazine worth its newsstand cost will be very picky indeed about the cameras and lenses and other gear they purchase for their photographers." The paper I shoot for has a set of Xsi with maybe the 55-250mm lens on them. When I first started shooting for them they offered me one. Obviously my 1DIV is orders of magnitude more capable of getting good images in difficult conditions than any Rebel. I've never done any sort of study as to what cameras the papers around here issue (if they do) and can only go on what I know from fellow photogs I've encountered while working. A 50D is the best paper issued gear I've heard of. Now if your job is to take pictures of the garden club, or the school board, or a 4H prize steer, a 50D is likely to give you everything you need. Sports in the dark are a whole different question.
I also don't know how you define "small town." Glendale, AZ (pop 230K) is considered small relative to its neighbor Phoenix (pop 1.4M) but when one considers towns like Gila Bend, Morenci, Bisbee, Ajo (all less than 7k) Glendale is huge. In this case the Glendale issues some type of Nikon D3? to its photogs. In the case of all of the other mentioned towns they either a) require the photog to provide his/her gear or b) don't have anything more advanced than an xxD. Also, all of the truly small town papers are using one of two printers in the Metro area and keeping costs down is essential to their survival. My paper prints on a "65 line screen" which my publisher notes has all the subtlety of "smearing tar on canvas." It is a real challenge to produce good images because so much detail is lost in printing and one never knows if the pressman is going to run dark or light this week.
While it is generally conceded that "print is dying" in truly small and isolated towns like all of those mentioned above, the local paper is the ONLY means of communication within the town so they hang on as no other media outlet in the state is even aware of them. How long they will last is probably a function of the dedication of the owner/publisher. In the case of my paper, its brother and sister team are the 3rd generation who have owned it since its founding nearly 100 years ago. I don't see their children being interested in the work so this could be the end.