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Daily hits back at call for readers to stop submitting photos after job cuts

nujlogoA regional daily has urged its readers to carry on contributing photographs after a plea for them to stop doing so for free in the wake of staff cutbacks.

As reported by HTFP earlier this month, a picture editor and deputy features editor role have been axed at the Oxford Mail as part of a round of cuts affecting Newsquest’s Oxfordshire and Berkshire operations.

Anne-Elise Hansen, a member of the Oxford branch of the National Union of Journalists, has since shared a post calling on people to stop submitting pictures to the Oxford Mail following the newspaper’s decision to make picture editor Ed Nix redundant.

But the Mail has hit back in an appeal to members of its amateur photography camera club, saying that letting Ed go had been a “tough decision” and adding that it is “not looking to exploit anyone” by publishing club members’ photos.

 

In a post shared on the Oxford Community Facebook group, Anne-Elise mentioned both Ed and Mail deputy features editor Katherine McAlister were set for redundancy.

Wrote Anne-Elise: “We call on our members, friends and supporters to stand with our colleagues. Please do not provide free content, stories, reports, reviews, photographs or videos to The Oxford Mail, The Oxford Times, The Witney Gazette, The Abingdon/Didcot Herald or the Bicester Advertiser.

“If you give away your work to these Newsquest titles without insisting on a decent rate of payment, you are undermining your NUJ colleagues, some of whom are under threat of losing their jobs and livelihoods. Please help us stand together in support of quality and fairly paid journalism.”

In reply, the Mail’s official Facebook account published a response on the camera club’s group on the social media site, which has more than 1,000 members, in which it made clear Ed would continue to work for the paper on a freelance basis while also running his own wedding business.

Addressing camera club members, the Mail wrote: “Unfortunately, we are struggling against decreasing revenues and we simply can’t afford to operate the way we used to. The simple fact is that not enough people, unlike you guys, value what we do. They don’t see our work as worth paying for and they expect all of our content for free.

“We believe in open democracy and the importance of the local press. We think it would be a dangerous world without it. And so regretfully, we have to make tough decisions. Otherwise there will be no local newspapers and our sense of community would be lost.

“We know that lots of people dislike us, or like to pick faults in what we do, but by the standards, and considering the small staff we have, we think we provide a really good news service. Our team go above and beyond to do this job, often receiving abuse for it.”

The Mail added: “We are not looking to exploit anyone and we genuinely love seeing your photographs, they make our day.” Newsquest has declined to comment further.

10 comments

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  • April 30, 2019 at 3:25 pm
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    The NUJ should be doing this for EVERY newspaper that has decimated it’s Picture Desk/Photographic Department! Many photographers, me included, are hanging on by our fingertips!

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  • April 30, 2019 at 3:40 pm
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    Just imagine…”Here at the Oxford Mail, we know we have a very intelligent demographic, Unfortunately, we are struggling against decreasing revenues and we simply can’t afford to operate the way we used to. So why not join our amateur management club, and come run a newspaper!! Then we can make a tough decision and make some management redundant, saving thousands!! Just be clear, this is entirely voluntary, you won’t be paid for being in the club, but we will give you a credit in the Newsquest annual report! So have fun running Your newspaper! Sign up today!!”
    And staff going, then coming back working freelance? Isn’t that the little problem the BBC has with the Inland Revenue?

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  • April 30, 2019 at 3:43 pm
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    Certainly makes the accountant’s day when there’s a big fat Zero in the photography budget!

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  • April 30, 2019 at 4:40 pm
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    “We are not looking to exploit anyone and we genuinely love seeing your photographs”

    Then pay a fixed price to the public for every photo published on any of their media platforms, it will still represent a considerable cost saving if penny pinching ,irrespective of quality, is the driving force here.

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  • April 30, 2019 at 4:56 pm
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    In fact you’re not that far from the truth @Regionalhack,with the public submitting news pieces,iPhone camera pix, local social media sites providing the leads and in some cases quotes and almost complete copy, PR agencies able to get almost anything they want published, with the public preferring to send in advertising via the websites or over the phone as opposed to a visit from a field ad rep and with some adverts knocked up for or pence via a ‘design’ base in Asia the industry has become pretty much externally run.
    Time to let go of the many chiefs and managers who, due to the the lack of FTEs employed in the business,have made themselves wholly surplus to requirements.
    Every cloud as they say…..

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  • May 1, 2019 at 9:04 am
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    The point about a decreasing number of FTEs yet still the same level of managers is a good and valid point. When staff numbers justified it there was a need for managers, now the numbers are greatly reduced there isn’t, couple that with the huge cost tied up in non productive managerial posts and an obvious and instant cost saving area is identified, does anyone know if any group is tackling this matter?

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  • May 1, 2019 at 9:38 am
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    Newsquest says… ‘The simple fact is that not enough people … value what we do. They don’t see our work as worth paying for and they expect all of our content for free.’
    The simple fact, of course, is that Newsquest along with almost all newspaper publishers decided years ago that content would be free to access online. People ‘expect all of our content for free’ because that’s what the regional newspaper industry has told them to expect.
    Cost has value – that’s basic economics.
    The regional newspaper industry is to blame for its precarious state, not the readers.

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  • May 1, 2019 at 10:53 am
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    RUSS. with you all the way. I’d suggest a nominal minimum £10 a picture used in paper and online (that’s £20 for both Mr Bean Counter) and £5 for every re-use.
    Just as a gesture. After all they do say: “We are not looking to exploit anyone and we genuinely love seeing your photographs”
    Fine words sincerely meant no doubt. But put your money where your mouth is Newsquest. Think of the money you have ditching talented people.

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  • May 1, 2019 at 10:56 am
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    add “saved” after “have” in final line, Apologies.

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  • May 1, 2019 at 12:42 pm
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    Well done to the Oxford branch of the NUJ for making this stand. It’s long overdue.
    Of course, it could – and should – have been done at national level by the NUJ five years ago, when the decimation started.

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