1 February 2015

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Photographers face axe as UGC picture site launched

A regional newspaper group is launching a new online platform for the public to send in photographs at the same time as making photographers redundant.

Archant Suffolk is currently consulting on the futures of 14 members of editorial staff following the decision to drop the Ipswich Star’s Saturday edition.

It is understood that the plan involves a reduction in the photographic staff from nine to six with the picture editor’s role one of those under threat.

Meanwhile the company has launched its new iwitness24 platform designed to allow readers to share pictures and videos with its newsrooms as well as with their own friends and followers.

Some readers will even receive cash prizes if they supply a scoop picture or contribute a certain amount of content.

Double-page spreads announcing the new feature were published in Monday’s editions of all four Archant dailies – the East Anglian Daily Times, Ipswich Star, Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News.

The new platform, created in partnership with community news organisation Citizenside, also has iPhone and Android apps enabling people to send content instantly via smartphones as well as by uploading them to the site.

James Foster, editorial director of Archant Norfolk, who led the project, said it was about getting news and pictures they wouldn’t otherwise get.

Said James: “Whether it’s a picture from a community group activity or a fire, we know that by engaging with our audience and telling them how much we value their contributions we can add to the richness of the material that we produce.

 “It’s not about replacing existing content but about adding to our huge mix of reader content – community news exists in every newspaper. This puts it into the digital age and tells our readers our serious we are about them.

“For example, our best reader picture of 2011 was of a burning bus. By the time our staff photographer got to the scene, the fire had been put out. Both pictures are great, but the flames made it so much more dramatic and unless we invent a time travel machine, we always risk missing those pictures.”

Community editor Chris Bishop also explained in a EDP article how he had used the platform to deliver instant video footage of a whale washed up on a Norfolk beach on Christmas Eve.

Wrote Chris: “I was testing out the new iwitness24 app, so I set off to see what I could capture in the way of pictures and video. There was a story to chase, but I also wanted to know how the technology would cope.

“The footage and pictures I uploaded with it attracted thousands of views over Christmas. One of the pictures made it into the EDP as well.”

As part of the launch a dedicated room for readers has been created in the company’s Norwich headquarters and an iwitness roadshow will tour towns to show people how it works.

The platform includes a social gaming element which means that reader’s contributions are measured and tracked and when they reach certain levels, different rewards are triggered such as a substantial cash commission on a scoop picture.


  1. Harold

    Oh dear lord! I feel faintly sick

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  2. Qualified Photographer

    I do wonder how EDP will ask these ‘citizen journalists’ to cover all the dross that they expect staff photographers to cover. I’m sure that these CJs will just love to drop everything to cover an exciting cheque presentation on a Sunday evening….

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  3. Former journo, Reading

    What a kick in the nuts!

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  4. Lurker

    Harold, you took the words off my fingers. As a mere lurker on this site, I am horrified by all this reader inclusion. A great many reader contributions are a waste of time. I’m a reader myself, and I want grown-up articles and proper photographs. The “wow look at me” brigade is growing, it will all end in tears.

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  5. former photog

    I assume the citizen journalists will have full insurance..

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  6. duffo

    Lucky they can afford the newsprint for all this future dross or, as I suspect, it will replace the decent stuff their own people supply.

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  7. LookingForAWayOut

    What a morale booster for all the photographers who have spent years working unsociable hours, freezing their bits off or getting soaked snapping amateur sports, sitting in traffic, having to humour local politicians who they meet on a regular basis as well as dealing with people from all ends of the social spectrum. All done in the quest to capture the occasional memorable image which they’ve taken with outdated & worn-out kit. Not to mention effectively having their pay cut year on year while the organistions they work for continue to make multi-million pound profits.
    Isn’t it nice to feel appreciated!

    Report this comment

  8. Mj

    Photographers in other regionals, take note…

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  9. Oldhack

    Hope they get their full clearance before covering stories involving kids!
    Or maybe Gary Glitter fancies taking up a new role as a citizen snapper?

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  10. Andrew (a photographer and journalist), London

    So, when do the citizen journalists sign the PCC code and read through the NUJ code of ethics? When do they realise that a camera phone is not good enough for night? What happens when they get in the way of fire crews and they phone the newsdesk to complain, only to be told nothing can be done? What happens when they need to claim on insurance? What happens when the integrity of the picture is questioned and they can’t provide an explanation? What happens when the exposure is bad, it’s out of focus, the light is wrong, the captions wrong, it’s framed badly, or it’s way too noisy or bad quality to put in the newspaper?

    What happens to general quality control?

    Or does nobody really care?

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  11. Blustringer

    Dear Lord.

    It’s just endless, isn’t it?

    Perpetual assault on anything and everything editorial.

    This pitiful attempt to cash in while sacking staff actually makes me feel ashamed to be a journalist.

    Report this comment

  12. Subbo

    I can see the bottom line is, as usual, about money – but that doesn’t make this move by Archant any less sickening.

    Report this comment

  13. Runaway Ed

    I too wonder if providing a reward system that involves potential cash incentives for photos might be viewed as coercion in a case where, let’s say, a member of the public is injured while trying to reach their ‘target’.
    “The Daily Disaster informed our client that he only needed one more photo to earn £20 and, in desperate need of money, he ran down the street to the burning bus, tripping on the way. He is now unable to work, or take photos.”

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  14. jiva, Norwich.

    Oh Dear.
    1, professionals are “professional” for a reason.
    2, security clearance for photographers subbing images of events where people have not signed a form to clear themselves for publication. This will leave the photog, and the news paper liable.
    3, So when content is not given, does that mean some poor lacky at the office has to scour the web and break copywrite on someone elses work?
    4, FOR GOD SAKE THINK OF THE CHILDREN. (yeah kind of a joke, but so not funny)
    5, I will not be submitting anything ever. Don’t take a profession seriously and your content and quality will reduce to the point of loosing readership.

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  15. Endeavour, East Anglia

    Television reporters now routinely carry video cameras and edit their own pictures. Why can’t a newspaper reporter take a picture with a stills camera? If you are going to moan about covering a cheque presentation then don’t – the organisers will happily ping off a snap on their iPhone. If a newspaper photographer delivers exciting pictures, they will keep him/her, won’t they? Comments above sound defeatist. Papers won’t be saved with negative attitudes.

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  16. Unhappysnapper

    Can’t say I’m surprised by this as sad as it may be. As a regional snapper myself I’ve seen this kind of thing happen before and continue to happen where greedy managers and directors of local titles are quite happy to lay off experienced and trustworthy pros in favour of citizen contributors – and it’s all down to money of course. Why pay an experienced professional press photographer £20/25k-a-year when they can get their pictures for free? They don’t care about the inferior quality as you only have to look through most regional titles to see the amount of appallingly bad submitted pictures used on their pages. All regional newspaper bosses care about are their profits, if they can replace people who cost them money in wages and resources and get readers to do the same job – however badly for free – then that’s what they’re going to do. The quality of the titles will suffer as a result but as long as profits take precedence over content, things in the regional press will only get worse.

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  17. Snapper Ipswich

    It appears that Archant are also suggesting in their T and C’s that THEY will have the right upon submission of pictures or video to market such material paying the submitter a commission. This arrangment apprently continues for 5 years after the submission.
    So you get a scopp ‘give it to Archant’ and THEY make money throwing you the odd crumb – on top of making money by making trained snappers redundant..what next the newsroom?

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  18. Dalai Llama-Farmer, Ecalpemos

    “By submitting any material to Archant, You automatically grant Archant the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, edit, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such material (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed for the full term of any rights that may exist in such content”

    Source: T&Cs at http://norfolk.iwitness24.co.uk/en/how-sell-photos-videos/terms-conditions.html which in turn point to http://www.edp24.co.uk/home/terms_and_conditions_7_135#contributions

    The ‘cash prize’ sounds like chuck-doggie-an-occasional-bone stuff. Pretty cynical, Archant…

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  19. Tim Gander

    “James Foster, editorial director of Archant Norfolk, who led the project, said it was about getting news and pictures they wouldn’t otherwise get.”

    No it isn’t. It’s about making more money by gouging readers for free content. And what about all the great pictures that will no longer be taken because there won’t be enough professional staff photographers to cover events in depth?

    Too many pitfalls to go into here and now. This is just very sad and very cynical.

    Report this comment

  20. Jon Sparks, Lancashire

    Everything that needs to be said has already been said, I just wanted to add one more despairing voice.

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  21. workingtog

    Just how many photos of sunsets, garden squirrels and poorly shot GV’s of events can the paper publish! and find out and see this paper run into the ground

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  22. Pete Webb, Brighton & London

    It will be interesting to see how this pans out when someone gets sued. Oh and how will the public /reader photographers know if something’s illegal/covered by PCC editors code or what if the subject of pictures is covered by an injunction ?

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  23. popee

    ”Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again”. – Henri Cartier-Bresson

    Was he talking about the photographers themselves I wonder?

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  24. popee

    Sad, sad times indeed. 
    As a former photographer with a daily that went weekly and in the process ditched it’s entire photographic department, my sympathies go out to those involved – there are not many jobs out in the big bad world for ex-newspaper togs. 
    At the moment photographic departments are in the firing line because they’re an expensive item on the  editorial budget. From my own experience an annual budget for four tog’s, company cars, NI, insurance, sick pay, expenses, holiday, pension and antiquated kit means you don’t get much change from £150K a year. So make photographers redundant  and  slash that figure by 90% and use the remaining 10% on freelance/user generated content cash prizes!
    Anyway, the joys of user generated image content – the untrained masses of citizen journalists – all seemingly outside of the law!
    In my experience from every 50 images submitted you got one good one. My former newsdesk colleagues would probably disagree with me on this but I did like images that were 1.) in focus and 2.)  capable of being pulled across more than 2 cols!
    There will be no holding back when it comes to dramatic events at every CJ with an Iphone thrusts the cameraphone forward to capture the action (i.e just like the boxing day stabbing in London) . Meanwhile the few remaining press photographers will be several hundred yards behind a police cordon out of sight and out of mind. Ho hum.
    I wonder if it  will wash with  remaining readers when they see a dramatic downturn in image quality – apart from those who are course submitting said images and  assume they have the same god-given  qualities of Cartier-Bresson or Weegee.
    Then there comes the copyright issue. Will Joe Public  be happy for Archant to do whatever they like with their images. I’m guessing, as BBC, Sky and ITV like to do with submitted images, will they have to abide by a disclaimer that by submitting their image across they are automatically 1) getting nothing but a by-line for it and  2.) allowing Archant to do with the image whatever they want with it.
    (for those in the dark look here for Beebs T&Cs http://www.bbc.co.uk/terms/personal.shtml  and scroll down to section 5)
    And of course  –  how will the remaining reporters get their free lifts from A to B in a tog’s car and then claim the mileage for their own! ;-)

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  25. ExHackIpswich, Suffolk

    I can’t see that Archant has looked at all the pitfalls in this latest project just seen it as an opportunity to fill empty slots in the cheapest way possible. To dispose of experienced and dedicated photographers (yes, still dedicated despite being treated as they are currently) in favour of a quick fix snap is deplorable and I hope it comes back and bites them on the bum soon.

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  26. Glasgow supporter, Glasgow

    Will be interesting to see if citizen journalist will be brave enough
    To send pics in from court cases, wonder how many threats it will take before they bottle it! While they are there they could also do the court copy, I mean if it’s easy enough to do a pic, let’s see them right few simple sentences ( of course they’ll all be up to spread regarding laws of court reporting!)
    This maybe a time for you guys to stand together and no photog gives them any pics for use!
    There’s also the issue of copyright, I’m sure all the editors reading this
    Will be more than happy to pay the appropriate fee to the CJ?!, after all there is an ongoing inquiry just now about press morals and ethics!

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  27. David Kilpatrick, Kelso

    Well, perhaps photographers who buy Archant’s ‘Professional Photographer’ and sundry other media (‘Turning Pro’ now deceased, fortunately) will consider what they are supporting.

    Even so, it makes little difference. This morning Alamy reported six uses of my images (ranging from simple record to observed photojournalism) by one national newspaper’s printed and on-line editions. Gross fees – $98. Fee to me 60% of that. If that’s what nationals are worth now, regionals and locals probably are justified in cutting rates to nothing. After all, there are some which still charge for the insertion of wedding pictures to make up their local wedds pages… I think?

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  28. Mark, Bristol

    Ooh lots of people not happy about this, why not remind ourselves how Archant performed last year (T/O down £3m, profits down £4.4m)

    The media landscape is changing, and that sounds like a lot of photographers to be taking pics of people receiving cheques from the WI

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  29. David Berman, The south.

    It’s a race to the bottom. Free content from readers. Reporters shooting their own pics on big jobs. Photographers? Sur votre biciclette!

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  30. Rollei

    Readers can take the odd decent landscape or get lucky and be in the right place at the right time but when it comes to taking pictures of people they are usually a disaster. Captions are non existent. All Archant will get from this is dross and when the initial enthusiasm for it dies down with the public they will be left with very little usuable material.

    Are they also going to sell readers pics for photosales and rip them off even more? How will they know the pics being sent to them are authentic?- Pictures of children in particular are a minefield. Photographers are expensive – mileage/equipment etc however they are also very often the only representatives of a newspaper that the public ever see’s.

    This idea is a recipe for a dramatic drop in quality and circulation – is that a price worth paying?

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  31. House Rules

    If anyone reading this is a “community journalist” and is thinking of using this service then don’t.

    If you take a picture of a braking news story then sell it to Archant. If they ask you to submit through this service say no and say you want a proper fee and to retain copyright.

    If you are the only person there you will have them over a barrel.

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  32. Andrew H, Diss

    This is so sad….. it all started a few years ago with reporters being given cameras and asked to provide pictures as well as the story… when is anyone going to realize that a professional photographer can not be replaced? We spend years honing our skills,can get a result under any conditions, and are immune to hours of pouring rain(well almost ;) as well as being able to put up with the humdrum of the workaday shots…If a picture is worth a 1000 words,a amateur picture is worth 2….Normally rubbish….

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  33. Qualified Photographer

    I do have to (sadly) laugh at the comment from “Endeavour”,

    “If a newspaper photographer delivers exciting pictures, they will keep him/her, won’t they? “.

    Archant aren’t interested in quality, or they wouldn’t be doing this. All that matters is money.

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  34. Ill-informed

    I suspect most of the submitted images will be used online with only those of sufficient quality and/or interest making the pages of the newspapers. Interesting that nobody bemoaning the appeal for readers to submit pics have come up with an alternative for the scenario set out in the article: “For example, our best reader picture of 2011 was of a burning bus. By the time our staff photographer got to the scene, the fire had been put out…”

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  35. The future, what future????, Road to nowhere.

    Has anyone seen the EDP pages promoting this? One of the so called prizes are MASTERCLASSES with OUR PRIZE WINNING PHOTOGRAPHERS!!!!!!!!!! Absolutely unbelievable, have these people got no feelings for their hard working photographers? Can you imagine how they are feeling right now(those who are left after last years cuts)?

    “so here is the situation chaps, we are going to set up this cheapskate way of getting the extra images we need on top of the one the reporters will now be doing on thier Iphones and when we have enough people signed up and they are contributing their stuff for free and getting screwed over their copyright we will offer them the chance to come in and be taught how to take pictures by the people they will be putting out of work by actions”

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  36. Ill-informed

    Re the prizes – agreed, that’s very shoddy. Also rather assumes that the people submitting pics are interested in photography.

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  37. popee

    @ Ill-informed

    nobody bemoaning the appeal for readers to submit pics have come up with an alternative for the scenario set out in the article:“For example, our best reader picture of 2011 was of a burning bus. By the time our staff photographer got to the scene, the fire had been put out…”

    A case of what we used to call ‘f8 and be there.’

    ‘Togs of a certain age will understand this.

    Ahh digital imaging – t’was the death knell for us all.
    Still on the bright side I’m out of it and this former experienced and trained lensman starts work again on Tuesday as………………………

    ..a postman.


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  38. Old Hack

    I saw this coming several years ago when present during an interview by a TV reporter who arrived complete with camera, sound equipment and lights…I asked this one-man wonder journo where he put the office broom – up his rear end !

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  39. hawkeye

    the public are mugs. they should charge for every photo but their vanity overcomes them. Likewise for responding to those purile requests in papers What Do You Think? and all that crap.
    One thing- are papers still covering cheque presentations? Thought that died out in the 70s. It should.

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  40. Black Shuck, Way out West

    Cheque presentations? Not when I was at the EDP 20 years ago. Back then it was a good paper that used photographs well – it also had some very talented snappers.
    I’m utterly dismayed at what it has become in recent years.
    The occasional picture from a reader if the photographer isn’t there in time or if the image is particularly great is fine, but kidding punters that they are “citizen journalists” is just cynical when Archant is slipping a sneaky all rights grab into the terms and conditions.

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  41. non hacker

    Just can’t see this paying suitable returns for the time and investment that Archant is putting into this venture. The apps in paticular are very efficient and would have been expensive to set up. plus there is the staff runinng costs of keeping the site going. I guess the hope is that readers will submit great on-the-spot exclusive pics of breaking news stories which can make a great show in the papers and be syndicated. Sadly, a quick look shows that most pics submitted so far are sunsets, sunrises, pretty pics of birds and wildlife and silly wording on signs. Maybe you could get a weekly double page spread of readers’ pics out of it- but is that worth it for all the cash spent so far? The whole thing is very much oriented for iphone users – but there are limitations to their use. Landscapes in daytime are great, but anything with people in can be dodgy and anythng at night is pretty useless.

    Let’s hope that none of these citizen journalists get run over when they dash out of their cars too take a pic of a car crash. I wonder how the cops will react to them at the scene of crashes and fires etc

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  42. Len Sman

    How are the remaining staff press photographers going to be treated when they turn-up to incidents from now on?

    Can you imagine arriving at an RTA or fire and saying to the copper “I’m a snapper for the EDP, I need to get through to take some pix” and being directed towards the line of a dozen ‘EDP CJ snappers’ already stood grinning at the cordon? Or worse still, “no, you can’t go down, we’ve already let ‘one of your snappers’ down already…” ?! Or not getting in to the football stadia because an EDP CJ has already claimed the pass?

    As for CJs getting injured, or breaking the law, or not observing protocol, or getting a pic at all costs without concern for ethics or codes of conduct, etc., what do Archant care? They have plausible deniability: “Oh no officer, Fred doesn’t work for us, he just sends in the occasional free pic for our consideration… we don’t employ him and we’re not responsible for him”.

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  43. Jumper

    As the Animals once said: “We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do”.
    Here, here to all the comments. I only have one thing left to say – Endeavour, you quite obviously a reporter. Bless you.

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  44. Parvenu

    Len, it’s not like that any more. Anything happens then police throw a ring around the incident. An individual (likely to be a support officer, not a real one) stops anyone getting through. He/she is unlikely to have even heard of your newspaper (young people don’t read them).
    This is not done because of any policy. It’s just easier for them if they keep everyone away. in the old days, access for the press would then be arranged in a controlled way, but even this doesn’t happen any more. So reporters and photographers sometimes have to try to find ways round this.
    Not condoning the EDP initiative, and I will always fight for snappers, but Len you are harking back to days that simply don’t exist any more.

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  45. Tog1, East Anglia

    So James Foster thinks he can rely on snappers with I Phones to match the exposure, composition and action qualities of professionally taken sports photographs. Well Mr Foster I challenge you to take your I Phone, or whatever fancy smartphone you may have in your pocket at the time, to a football or rugby match this Saturday and cover the match, then print the best of your photos on the back page of the EDP. If you think an untrained photographer is capable of matching the quality already provided by your paid staff and professional free-lancers, then you should dare to take up this challenge. Please do this Mr Foster. We could all do with a laugh after this news. Oh yes and do you really think schools are going to let in just anyone who turns up claiming to be “working for the papers”? I really don’t think so.

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  46. Harold

    Tog1 – you’ve worked in papers long enough I imagine to know how these ideas come about. Idea mooted from up high and negative comments are forbidden. Anyone daring to suggest it might not be a good idea is no longer included in the discussion and eventually someone with no imagination/ survival instinct/ is paid enough money to practice doublespeak (delete as appropriate) takes the idea through to reality. I can think of plenty of ideas that came to fruition and then were quickly shelved at the one regional daily I worked on. Time, money and goodwill could have been saved straight away if legitimate concerns were listened to. An industry that has killed itself from the top.

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