A 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.
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.