As revealed by HoldtheFrontPage yesterday, the company’s newspapers in Lincolnshire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire will soon be left without any staff photographers after a review of how photographic content is generated.
But the NUJ claims the move is “dangerous” and could lead to “industrial scale theft” of images.
The union is also concerned that already hard-pressed reporters will be made to take photographs and that the overall quality of titles will suffer.
Most of the staff photographers have left under JP’s enhanced voluntary redundancy scheme, although there are also understood to be a single-figure number of compulsory redundancies.
Some of the staff who are leaving are expected to be re-employed by the company on a freelance basis.
General secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “This is a disastrous decision, not just for photographers, but for readers and advertisers of newspapers, who will notice a huge difference in the quality of pictures.
“I hope Johnston Press has alerted its lawyers; dangerous mistakes will be made if a paper’s picture policy is left to the general public.”
Andrew Wiard, chair of the NUJ’s Photographers’ Council added: “The NUJ supports the role of professional image makers in providing images to the media. The fact that many bystanders now have cameras is no guarantee that newsworthy, well-shot, usable images will result, that caption information will be accurate and appropriate, or that the rights of creators of that content and those shown are respected.
“Sacking photographers only makes sense in a world where quality and accuracy count for nothing, where readers are treated with contempt and where the organised theft of other people’s images is going to be carried out on an industrial scale.”
A spokeswoman for Johnston Press told HTFP yesterday: “All photographers will soon be leaving titles within the Midlands region following a review – at local level – of the way photographic content is generated.
“Most photographers have taken an enhanced voluntary redundancy package. A small number of photographic positions were placed at risk and final consultation is underway with those likely to be affected.”
The company has declined to comment further.