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Publishers hit back at union claims over photography budgets

nujlogoRegional publishers have hit out at union claims over photographic budgets at their newspapers.

Both Johnston Press and Newsquest have criticised the National Union of Journalists after it alleged some of the former’s Scottish titles had budgets of £15 per week to spend on pictures.

The claim comes after the NUJ launched a campaign aimed at getting amateur photographers to understand the value of photographs and videos they provide to news organisations.

But JP has flatly denied a union claim that its budget “amounts to less than a daily cup of coffee from your local takeaway”.

A spokesman said: “Our overall photographic budget is considerably more than the NUJ is citing. We do of course use freelance photographic on our weekly titles and we manage the budget accordingly.

“We receive a large number of unsolicited photographs from readers and organisations who are naturally very keen to see their work publicised for free and they like to see their names credited in our titles.

“Our industry continues to adapt and to evolve and the prevalence of mobile phones and digital photography has dramatically changed the way photographs are used in traditional news platforms, social media and other digital platforms.

“We continue to invest in our editorial and commercial teams, not least announcing the creation of 31 new roles last month to bolster our digital presence.”

In a statement on its campaign, the NUJ also claimed Newsquest was “actively seeking to reduce its use of professional photographers and turning to camera clubs and readers for the use of their free images”, while further adding Trinity Mirror “has followed the trend; it has shed many of its staff photographers”.

The union said: “The NUJ believes that this is wrong. People submitting photographs for publication should be getting properly paid for their work.”

Trinity Mirror declined to comment on the NUJ’s statement.

However, Newsquest editorial development director Toby Granville said: “Due to advancements in technology and smartphones, we employ less photographers than we did ten years ago – our reporters are now able to take high quality photographs and video themselves.

“However, we still retain a photographer at most of our titles and Newsquest editors also have a significant freelance budget at their disposal. As has been the case for many years, we also accept submissions from the public.

“More recently, we have also launched a community engagement initiative called the Camera Club – which tens of thousands of keen amateur photographers across the country have signed up to – and we award prizes and hold exhibitions in recognition of their contributions to our titles.

“The driver for the camera clubs is about giving our readers the chance to participate, share and engage, it’s not about cutting photo budgets – as the NUJ wrongfully claims.”


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  • February 13, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    Surprised at Toby’s remark given he is Newsquest editorial development director – or perhaps he was unaware of the group’s stated 2018 strategy: “Use success of Camera Club to reduce freelance photographic.”

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  • February 13, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    “our reporters are now able to take high quality photographs and video themselves”

    Forgive the expletive but…..B******S! If soft focus and wobblecam are your thing Toby sobeit. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

    Interesting that JP are happy to pay more than £15 a week. The extra £2.50 must make all the difference to some poor ‘tog.

    “We do of course use freelance photographic on our weekly titles and we manage the budget accordingly”
    Which I tend to find means we get them to do as much as possible in a short period of time preferably shooting iPhone wobblecam footage at the same time. The latter of which all comes in the set job fee that JP, NQ and TM et al dictate.
    Oh, and don’t mention mileage rates. It upsets them badly.

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  • February 13, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    “we employ less photographers than we did ten years ago”
    this suit needs a sub. It should be ‘fewer’. Mind you, as much of the population can neither read nor write, I suppose it doesn’t matter much that illiterates are running the show.

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  • February 13, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    I see Toby Granville is not bothering to look at his North West titles if he really believes that his reporters “are now able to take high quality photographs and video themselves”.
    Google images and inappropriately large headshots with the usual scattering of submitted pictures make up the majority of images in the titles.
    And most of the videos would embarrass a first year media studies student.
    But what do you expect? The reporters have received little or no training and are not supplied with kit to do the job, they are expected to use their own phones in return for a £20 a month payment.

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  • February 14, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Claret Reg – thanks for the feedback. However, I just need to point out that all reporters are offered a smartphone paid for by the company. At some of our titles in the North West they chose to use their own in return for a payment. But they are certainly not “expected” to use their own.

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  • February 14, 2018 at 9:33 am

    I have a good quality pair of scissors but that doesn’t make me a barber. There is way more to taking press photos than having a quality smartphone. It all comes down to quality and that is something JP et al don’t care about. Rather than use professional photographers who can take proper well composed photos which enhance news and sport pages they will take anything, out of focus, low quality and badly composed vanity pics from people who don’t care about the plight of working pros. The newspapers look amateur and tacky but the owners don’t mind that and have the gall to put up prices of already overpriced products. It is no wonder readers are voting with their feet. In some areas JP no longer cover local Saturday sport. Preferring instead to accept rubbish from supporters taken from the stands. Quality is reserved for the i as far as JP are concerned. Weeklies can whistle for a proper photo budget and don’t even dare mention travel expenses. The JP papers are dying a death of a thousand cuts and it seems to me that they care not a jot. FOOLS!!

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  • February 14, 2018 at 9:39 am

    “Newsquest editorial development director Toby Granville said: “Due to advancements in technology and smartphones, we employ less photographers than we did ten years ago…”
    FEWER photographers Toby!

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  • February 14, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Toggy McTogface beat me to it – I only need mention the plethora of ‘high quality’ wonky shots.

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  • February 14, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    @ElectricPics. Sorry. My blood was boiling and my spleen needed venting.
    I only have to look back 10 years to when the area I still cover had 23 staff togs working on 4 regional daily (now TM owned) and five weekly (independent) newspapers.
    Of the dailies (two are now weekly) one boasts a single full time staffer with the remaining relying on underpaid freelance and free UGC pix, while the indie weeklies also have one full time ‘tog between them.
    Oh, and I’ve just this minute finished making page-ready a camera club submitted pic. Poorly lit, badly exposed and not even in focus.
    Still, I s’pose a blind man would be glad to see it……..
    Going off piste now I know we moan at blunts’ and punter wobblecam footage, but take a good long look at regional tv news.
    Run and gun and journos filming their own pieces to camera – and with the beauty of HDTV you can see how far off the focus is on them – normally focussing past them so you get a beautifully shot background and a lovely soft talent.
    Media in general, I’m afraid, is dumbing down as quantity bypasses quality.

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  • February 14, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    JP policy seems to be the crappier the picture the bigger they use it. No wonder their papers look as if they need a good professional dedicated editor instead of a sloppy slap-it-in merchant.

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  • February 14, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    Sport stills impossible on a phone. Phones also don’t have wide aperture lenes. Remember training as photojournalist but NUJ did not like them nor did many editors and pure writers still don’t, hence the disparaging term snappers from hacks. Multiskilling has been renamed multimedia reporter – but how many really know how to use a camera?

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