Archant has announced the changes to its operation, which will see some specialist photographers retained along with newly-created picture curator roles.
The company says it wants to make it clear that all editorial staff should be able to take “publishable quality photographs and video” together with a “renewed focus” on images shared by readers.
HTFP understands 30 members of Archant’s photography departments are currently under consultation. However, not all those affected will lose their jobs as a result.
Photographic staff were told of the proposals yesterday, with editorial colleagues informed this morning.
It is understood reporters will be issued with iPhones to take photos while out on jobs as a result of the restructure.
An announcement by Archant chief content officer Matt Kelly, which has been seen by HTFP, reads: “Digital technology has done so much to change visual journalism in the past decade, both in how photos and video are created and how that content is consumed and shared by our readers.
“We believe it’s essential that our business responds to those changes of behaviour if we are to be as relevant as possible in our communities. If these proposals go ahead, it will result in a restructure and reorganization of the photography departments across our newspaper locations.
“As an industry in a profound state of flux, we face many difficult challenges. How we take advantage of the opportunities to engage with audiences in new ways, without jeopardising the quality of our journalism, is perhaps the most difficult challenge facing any content team today.
“I believe the proposals we have laid out give us an opportunity to retain the skills of specialist photographers when we need them, while at the same time making it clear that all our editorial staff should be able to take publishable quality photographs and video as a matter of routine.”
Matt added that through the adoption of the new photo curator roles there would be a “renewed focus” on engaging with readers who have quality photos and videos they want to share.
It is understood the curators will be responsible for creating photo galleries and collating images from across newspapers’ patches, from social media and readers, and sharing them among other Archant titles. They will also pay freelance photographers to cover events.
He continued: “I realise these changes are difficult on many levels and that many of you will have very valid questions about our longer term strategy. I want to assure you that these proposals form part of a coherent and positive content strategy focussed on building large, loyal and local audiences.
“One this process is complete, I will be able to give you much more clarity on how we intend to achieve that and will arrange for a series of “ask me anything” sessions in our places of work. In the meantime, do not hesitate to email me directly with concerns and observations.”
The announcement comes days after the company revealed it would be closing its London news website London24, with five jobs at risk as a result.
A spokeswoman for Archant said: “Archant confirms that as part of a review of its newspaper photography departments, it has started a consultation process with affected staff.”