Fears have been raised that the art of photography in regional newspapers “will die” after the industry’s last accredited course was shelved.
Lack of interest has put paid to the flagship NCTJ-accredited Press Photography and Photojournalism courses at Norton College, Sheffield for the coming year.
And the demise of a similar course at Bournemouth has left aspiring photographers with nowhere to go to learn their craft.
Now the industry’s most respected trainer of photographers has voiced fears of a knock-on effect for local publishers.
Paul Delmar, responsible for launching hundreds of careers in a 30-year teaching career as head of photography at Sheffield, said: “This is a real tragedy – not just for photographers but papers as well. No NCTJ courses mean the art of photography in regional journalism will die.
“There is no future for regional newspapers if the job is not done properly. If photography is diluted, the subsequent results won’t even have the strength of water.”
Added Paul, pictured left: “There is no doubt in my mind that without these courses for photographers – everyone will suffer.”
“If a reporter takes a picture to illustrate a story – it’s not doing justice to their own story. You ask a journalist how they would like their story to be best illustrated – and the answer is always with a picture taken by a trained photographer.”
His comments follow the closure of the Up To Speed Journalism course in Bournemouth and Sheffield cancelling next year’s course after only five wannabe photographers applied for the 33-week diploma.
College chiefs say the photographic and photojournalism courses at Norton – previously voted the country’s top press photography training centre by the UK Picture Editors Guild – will be restored in September 2015 when the college closes and students transfer to Hillsborough College campus, which is undergoing an £8.8m upgrade.
Norton’s principal Heather Smith said: “We have written to the five applicants offered places on this year’s course to let them know. We are sorry for any disappointment caused.”
Steve Phillips, NCTJ chief examiner for press photography and photojournalism and group picture editor of the South Wales Evening Post, added: “We are sorry to hear the long-established NCTJ-accredited photography course has been deferred but pleased that Sheffield College remains committed to its re-launch next year.”
The first NCTJ photographic courses were started in Wednesbury in the West Midlands by Birmingham Post and Mail photographer Eric Hale in the 1960s while the award-winning Sheffield course began under Eddie Bissell in 1979. Paul joined the lecturing team the following year, staying until 2010.
The NCTJ photography courses have been running uninterrupted at Norton College and its predecessors Stradbroke and Richmond ever since.