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Staff photographer roles at risk at recently-purchased titles

An edition of the News & Star from February 2017

Up to seven photographer roles are at risk of redundancy in a round of cutbacks at a recently-purchased group of newspapers.

Staff photographers working at three Newsquest centres in Cumbria are due to work their last day on Friday.

Titles affected include the News & Star, Carlisle, The Mail, based in Barrow, the Whitehaven News and Workington Times & Star.

The former CN Group titles were bought by Newsquest in March, since when the National Union of Journalists claims there have been almost 100 jobs lost.

According to the union, the latest round of cuts will see three full-time photographic roles and two part-time roles at the Carlisle office, where the News & Star and Cumberland News are produced, reduced to a single full-time role.

Meanwhile the number of photographers in Barrow, will fall from two to one, and the number in West Cumbria from three to one. The company’s Hexham centre, which publishes the Hexham Courant, will retain its photographer under the plans.

A Newsquest spokesman said: “We have bought CN Group to be able to sustain great local journalism – which is why we are investing in more frontline reporters.

“These photographer redundancies are regrettable but form part of our plans to give CN Group a sustainable future – and we will still continue to employ four full-time photographers at those titles.”

But the NUJ chapel in Carlisle has described the move as a “major blow to our hard-won reputation for quality”.

In a statement, it said: “Every company wants a sustainable future, and we, of course, support this. We appreciate that Newsquest, and our industry, faces unprecedented change and challenge as we adapt to the rapidly evolving digital age.

“Despite these difficulties, our newspapers and magazines have punched above their weight and been a beacon of quality local journalism.

“This has been underlined by numerous national and regional accolades that our titles and our staff have won in recent years – against rivals in bigger cities with more resources. We are proud of this culture of journalistic excellence.

“To Newsquest’s credit, we understand there are plans to recruit reporters in Carlisle, bolstering a team that has been drastically reduced over recent years – to around a quarter of the number CN had in Carlisle a decade ago.

“But we believe massively reducing the number of staff photographers to cover an area the size of north Cumbria will ultimately harm the business, when we all want it to succeed.

“The work of our photographers will instead be replaced by pictures from freelances, reporters using smart phones, readers, and PR/commercial companies. Such content is no substitute for first-class photography by trained and seasoned staff professionals.

“We feel that failing to properly invest in our journalism will not allow Cumbrian Newspapers to achieve the sustainable future we all crave. The NUJ chapel has therefore demanded further talks with management to seek a more positive way forward for all.”

10 comments

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  • June 27, 2018 at 5:09 pm
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    “We are investing more in frontline reporters” – who will presumably now be snapping away with their camera phones. Good luck to all affected.

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  • June 27, 2018 at 5:26 pm
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    And so it begins. Next step, get readers to send in their pix. What a tragedy for a once great newspaper group. Sir John Burgess will be turning in his grave. How long before the evening paper is axed and all that is left is Friday’s Cumberland News?

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  • June 27, 2018 at 6:01 pm
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    It would be refreshing if the reporters on just one paper went to the union and en masse refused to take pictures. Quality would rocket, photographers jobs would be saved and the reporters workload reduced.

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  • June 27, 2018 at 7:45 pm
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    A much more realistic tone from the NUJ here. Yes, they need to be seen to be complaining, but they know the score and should be congratulated, at last, for their toned-down response.

    Let’s hope it’s the start of a constructive, realistic relationship.

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  • June 28, 2018 at 6:13 am
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    Dejavu
    NQ move in, existing staff move out, it’s the blueprint whenever they’re involved in taking over papers or groups, I’d be interested to know just how many people have been made redundant by the only cost saving tactic they know, I’ll bet it’s hindrrdds now in the past couple of years alone.
    Best of luck to those affected by this latest night of the long knives policy

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  • June 28, 2018 at 8:17 am
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    Photographers were always a local paper’s “frontline”, even more so than reporters, as they were the ones out and about all day long. Everyone knew the local snappers.
    To reduce Carlisle photographic to one, and West Cumbria to one, has to undermine the quality. They are huge areas to cover. Those left will be run off their feet or just too busy arranging cover for night jobs, weekend shifts etc etc. But hey, there will be investment in a couple of junior reporters to cut and paste back at the office, so that’s alright.

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  • June 28, 2018 at 9:36 am
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    “Got a picture?”
    “Sorry, it’s not very good.. Bit out of focus.”
    “Don’t worry. Send it in.”
    “Am I getting paid for it?”
    “Er no, sorry we don’t pay.”
    Soon to be familiar conversation if the NQ move comes off.

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  • June 28, 2018 at 1:31 pm
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    The guys can look forward to zero hours contracts, meagre rates and no mileage expenses. The papers will be getting a 5 star service at a 2 star price. Events won’t be covered to save money. Absolutely disgusting!

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  • June 28, 2018 at 7:46 pm
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    The management of so many newspapers obviously don’t know what the word “quality” means. No disrespect to Joe Citizen but there is a difference between their pics and those of professionals. And who does a news editor calls in re photos when a story breaks in the early hours. Oh, I can just see Mr/s hometown climbing out of bed to do that – or are we going back to the days when every photo had to be a “smiley” one. I despair.

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  • June 29, 2018 at 12:02 pm
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    @Ed Hitler Yep, nothing better than culling your thin frontline.
    As I know full well it’s the ‘togs who are seen by readers/punters when they’re out and about and regarded as the face of the publications – (while you lucky blunts sit in nice warm/air conditioned offices!)
    My thoughts are with the ‘togs in these uncertain times.

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