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Publisher set to axe staff photographers in newspaper cuts

ArchantA regional publisher is set to make cuts to its photography departments – with a number of staff at risk of  redundacy as a result.

Archant has confirmed it has begun a consultation with photographers affected by the plan, although the company has declined to state how many jobs are set to be lost.

HTFP understands the cuts affect Archant’s newspaper publishing operation in London and Hertfordshire.

In London, Archant’s titles include the Ham & High, Hackney Gazette and Islington Gazette, while the Herts Advertiser, Stevenage-based weekly The Comet and the Royston Crow are among the newspapers it publishes in Hertfordshire.

A company spokesman told HTFP: “Archant confirms that as part of a review of its newspaper photography departments, it has started a consultation process with affected staff.”

Last month HTFP revealed Archant was planning to close five newspaper offices across Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, saying that retaining them “makes no sense commercially”.

But the company said no titles would close as a result of that proposal and there would also be no job losses as a result of it.

28 comments

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  • April 2, 2019 at 9:19 am
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    Yeah.. That’s a great idea following the lead of JP/JPI. Just watch how fast circulation falls. A newspaper without a staff photographer is like a football team without a goalkeeper. Fools at the top!!

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  • April 2, 2019 at 9:44 am
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    Good photographs with impact are better than dull stories for impact. But quality is not important to the accountants who run newspapers now.
    I can tell the pix from my (sole) local JPI staffer (shared with other papers) a mile apart from the out of focus, poorly composed and badly lit rubbish that gets sent-in by readers and used regularly.
    Archant won’t regret this change. The readers certainly will.

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  • April 2, 2019 at 10:17 am
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    These companies are akin to a sausage maker who, after being told that their sausages contain too much filler and not enough meat, solves the problem by adding even more filler and a shiny new label, because they’re confident that the new label means the customers won’t notice. Except they do notice and stop buying the sausages.

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  • April 2, 2019 at 11:16 am
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    How can they say
    “….there would be no job losses as a result” then announce yet more photographers are being axed??
    I guess when producing a top quality end product is no longer as important than attaining social media likes and follows , any old iPhone supplied snaps will do.

    Good wishes to all those affected.

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  • April 2, 2019 at 12:25 pm
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    A dull but maybe worthy story which has to he covered can be saved by a brilliant picture. Words can be written around a fantastic picture which can often be used as a last minute BMD filler. A good photographer can make people feel special to appear in their newspaper in a way that a reporter or reader with a smartphone could never do! Maybe editors should fight to put that point!

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  • April 2, 2019 at 12:50 pm
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    For me a photographer is the one irreplaceable role. The much-improved photo quality is one thing, but the one thing you cannot calculate is their impact with getting out into a community. With reporters increasingly working out of towns (or worse at home), the number of people coming into contact with staff from the paper is dwindling all the time. A photographer with dozens of years experience, recognisable on the streets etc, is worth his/her weight in gold.

    Shame also for the already stretched reporters who will be asked to find yet more time in their busy schedules to go out and snap a mediocre photo on a dated smartphone. Sad times.

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  • April 2, 2019 at 1:15 pm
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    Editors fighting for a point @DisgruntledToggy ?
    Those were the days, it’s all head down,look the other way and certainly,whatever you say boss.
    Seaside journo is right about the value of a photographer in the community but I guess when you’ve lost the community and the paper has little credo then the public emailing in iPhone snaps or a junior reporters company phone shot will do, it’s cheap and will do and that’s all that matters sadly

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  • April 2, 2019 at 2:44 pm
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    It is no co-incidence that local newspaper circulations flourished when the duty photographer spent a Saturday afternoon covering at least half a dozen community events. They usually produced a selection worthy of a stand-alone front-page picture and firing squad line-ups were a definite no-no. Reporters picked up the accompanying words later.
    These days event organisers call in asking for an event to be covered and are met with: “We are really interested, so could you please jot down a few words and email them in with a jpeg photo?”
    This not only give the impression that the paper isn’t fussed whether it covers the event or not, but also leaves the distinct possibility of receiving an out-of-focus firing squad – certainly nothing remotely worthy of the front page.
    You could generally rely on a decent photographer to deliver a great spread from a carnival or kids’ play scheme when news was in short supply at the height of summer. All the effort was often measured in photo sales.

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  • April 2, 2019 at 2:49 pm
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    This is not the first time that Archant has cut its photographic teams.
    The last round of photographer job cuts – following ‘consultation’ a few years back – proved devastating, with some excellent, skilled people thrown on the scrap heap, and editorial morale dropping to an all-time low.
    I’m afraid we can expect more of the same, as Archant pushes forward with its masterplan – small teams of ‘multi-skilled’ reporters, working from home with no office base, providing copy, pictures and video to create online and print coverage, with user-generated content – arranged by ‘image curators’ – filling up the gaps.
    What a great time to be in local journalism…

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  • April 2, 2019 at 3:26 pm
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    This is all so sad but predictable. If the manufacturer/owner of any other “product” such as cars or food was to cut corners, because the products were not selling as well as expected, then that only leads to an even bigger drop in sales. Somehow, though, the bosses of the big newspaper chains can’t see that. Before we had children my wife was a photographer on papers in Middlesex and Surrey and worked hard to provide good pics. To ask readers to send in pics is an insult not just to them but to the mass of readers. You can see the difference in the way people cut corners to save paying for a snapper at weddings – result: dreadful videos etc etc. I despair.

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  • April 2, 2019 at 3:45 pm
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    More self-fulfilling prophecy, degrade the quality of the product and then moan when people stop buying it.

    Genuinely can’t think of any other industry that does this. If magazines followed the same business model as newspapers, 442 would have UGC pictures of the backs of footballers heads and articles written by people who didn’t like football but who wanted some work experience.

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  • April 2, 2019 at 4:42 pm
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    I am always filled with sympathy when I read about people losing their jobs, but I find the idea that newspaper sales are linked to the number of photographers quite dubious. I suspect the decline of newspaper sales has got more to do with the fact that new technology platforms have completely changed how our readers behave and the fact that young people do not buy newspaper any more at all.

    As usual, there are many people on this site who have all the answers, are quite sure that it’s the management who are fools, and if only their advice were heeded, the business would be fine.
    It’s a stretch to imagine that people who worked in newspapers’ heyday, when profits were huge and newsrooms staffed to bursting, have much insight into how to put these businesses back into profit.

    But I am glad that in between working so hard in their struggling titles, they find the time to sound off on here with such persistent, regular misery. If they think their hard-working colleagues appreciate their pessimism, I suspect they are wrong.

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  • April 3, 2019 at 9:46 am
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    “It’s a stretch to imagine that people who worked in newspapers’ heyday, when profits were huge and newsrooms staffed to bursting, have much insight into how to put these businesses back into profit.”

    Well Frank Lee, looking at the 2018 Archant Annual Report which reveals a £6.6m operating loss, it looks like the current top level team doesn’t have much idea either!

    All that over a decade of slash and burn has produced is woeful financial figures, year in, year out. Will the company ever be in a position to pay its shareholders a dividend again?
    Interesting to see that 78 per cent of the revenue was from print with 22 per cent non print.
    Be careful not to throw baby out with the bath water, won’t you?

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  • April 3, 2019 at 10:00 am
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    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read @Franklys “…..young people do not buy newspaper any more at all”
    FYI Frankly,they never have, the problem now is that older people aren’t buying them either.
    “….new technology platforms have completely changed how our readers behave” or put it in plain English, people want rolling news instantly,on the move,at the press of a button and for free, that’s why many local daily papers have lost their audiences.The situation is made worse when the papers have little or no visible presence or experienced staff in the areas so its no surprise that they’ve become insignificant to the people within those communities.
    Closing offices,axing photographers,not covering local events,expecting the public to write their own press releases and supply camera phone images while using your own social media platforms as dumping grounds for nibs aimed at attracting clicks, likes and comments only hastens the decline of these once popular and essential local papers.
    Burying your head in the sand and attempting to divert attention away from the real issues is much easier than facing facts, as is mocking other people’s views and patronising both your own staff and those photographers soon to be made redundant.

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  • April 3, 2019 at 11:14 am
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    Apologies to @Archantlifer
    I meant to click ‘like ’ on your comment, certainly not @FrankLees which I inadvertently did.

    Togs, what few remain, can add immense value to a paper or web site as well as being high profile ambassadors for a paper or publisher,yet are being phased out in favour of as much UGC as they can get to fill up the templated pages with and to save a few quid,still,when you don’t value your own end product you can’t expect the public to either.

    Never mind the quality, feel the savings

    Soul destroying isn’t it

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  • April 3, 2019 at 1:48 pm
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    I spent more than 20 years as a reporter and editor working alongside a multi-award-winning photographer who was better known, respected and trusted in the community than any of us hacks, no matter how well we did our jobs. He took the technical and artistic aspects of his craft seriously, always producing eye-catching and well-composed images. He was a consummate professional, sensitive to difficult and distressing situations and was always welcomed as a result – whether at a police incident, fire, funeral or death-knock interview. He was known and trusted by business owners and event organisers and could get behind the scenes or into positions that gave him a vantage point no other snappers had.
    To think that such journalistic skills and qualities are no longer of any importance to the beancounters – and not even, it seems, to one comment writer here – breaks my heart.

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  • April 3, 2019 at 2:49 pm
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    Frank Lee – Losing photographers is part of the reason for sales drops, it results in poor quality without them. Papers that once had picture leads now use filers, quality standalones were always used on pages that didn’t lend themselves to a good photo, now filers of council buildings are used instead, or a poor submit firing squad line up used. Who wants to pay 80p for a paper thats poor, thats why they go online for the free content.

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  • April 3, 2019 at 4:56 pm
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    Dave S, it would be nice for me to have the opportunity to pay just 80p for my local paper, regardless of quality.

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  • April 3, 2019 at 4:58 pm
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    Archantlifer: I think your attitude is summed up perfectly by your username. You consider yourself entitled to a job for life but also to sneer at the company that pays your wages on websites. I suspect you are surrounded by people who are putting their all into creating great newspapers and websites and who know full well, or at least suspect, that you are on here rubbishing their efforts. It’s not what a good colleague would do, in my opinion.

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  • April 3, 2019 at 5:07 pm
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    @Frank Lee
    Perhaps, like many staff, @Archantlifer is more concerned about the long term future of the company being put in jeopardy by short term decisions such as closing branch offices and axing photographers?
    I’m sure the shareholders are losing patience at seeing their shares continue to fall and with no prospect of a dividend for their investment ,or anyone with any clear direction for the business?

    or perhaps he’s just a bit too near the truth and has hit a nerve?

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  • April 4, 2019 at 12:08 pm
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    @Frank Lee: that is of course one interpretation of ArchantLifer’s comments. Another might be that he/she has seen senior manager after senior manager come and go along with their huge plans to turn it around which amounted to nothing. Perhaps he/she is rightly sceptical about this latest strategy (which by the way is virtually identical to many of those that have come and failed before) and thinks the people in charge won’t be there to pick up the pieces in a few years time. Perhaps most of his/her colleagues agree and perhaps he/she is more in touch with their feelings than people who are barely seen in the newsroom.

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  • April 4, 2019 at 1:03 pm
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    Thank you for your observations Frank Lee but your suspicion that I am “surrounded by people who are putting their all into creating great newspapers and websites and who know full well, or at least suspect, that you are on here rubbishing their efforts” is completely without foundation. I cannot see your logic for making such a knee-jerk assumption.
    Just to clarify: I have the utmost respect for my colleagues and know full well the amount of work and dedication to the cause, having contributed plenty of blood sweat and tears myself over the years.
    My frustration stems from the fact that people are being asked to overperform with one hand tied behind their backs as a result of the relentless tide of cost-cutting which has stripped the operation of so many skilled, experienced operators and alienated titles from their core audiences.
    Whatever the strategy is, it doesn’t seem to be delivering. Time for the admirals of the fleet to change tack?

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  • April 4, 2019 at 1:16 pm
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    Norfolk n good,Hazebruh and Archant Lifer are spot on
    I suspect they are more attuned to the real feelings and views from the floor rather than those who operate from afar and on a different level ( pun intended)
    Norfolk n good mentions previous senior managers and “….their huge plans to turn it around” the big difference now is it appears there ARE no plans,this is just managing decline.
    Closing branch offices,axing photographers and expecting already over worked staff to cover the workloads of ex colleagues or work alone from home is a sure sign things are desperate while offloading all available costs and flogging off assets is usually seen as one last throw of the dice, and if they believe that’s what “…their hard-working colleagues appreciate “ I too suspect they are seriously wrong

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  • April 4, 2019 at 3:41 pm
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    Professional photos are the lifeblood of a local newspaper – picture spreads of kids and families, community and school events, sports.
    You can’t replicate this with submitted photos, or photos by reporters on their phones.
    Newsrooms are so stretched, reporters don’t have the time (or photographic ability) to cover these events, so they get dropped from the paper instead.
    Fewer photographers on a title means fewer opportunities to book or attend such events, so it looks as though the remaining photographer isn’t doing their job (when in reality they are probably the only one covering a large area, but are ill, on leave, or have a day off). And it puts reporters off booking anyone when they are constantly told there is no one available – a catch22 situation when it comes to auditing what staff photographers do/produce/attend.
    Slashing the ‘worker bees’ is always the easy target when it comes to saving money. It’s never the ‘top jobs’ on vast wages.

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  • April 5, 2019 at 8:14 am
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    This isn’t just about photographers or office closures though is it?
    It’s about frustration at the ongoing dismantling of a once proud company and the laying to waste of previously essential county newspapers by devaluing their content and worth to such an extent that, when there are other more local,relevant,faster and free options to choose,people no longer buy them.

    Having read the latest annual report and seen how bad things are across all departments; ad revenues in free-fall, newspaper sales all but gone,too many managers in the advertising dept,directors salaries/bonus’ out of sync with the financial state of the business etc ,its clear cost savings need to be made and I am sure the shareholders, patient for so long on promises of ‘jam tonorrow’ ,will want to know what plans the board have in place for immediate implementation as so far it appears closures and job cuts are the only ideas they have.

    The problem is while those deciding what to cut next are the ones furthest from the front line and with potentially the most to lose, the carnage will continue making for a sorry picture for those who remain,never knowing where or when the next ‘review’ or cuts will come.

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  • April 5, 2019 at 9:31 am
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    So often new brooms arrive – often with no experience of the industry – and are much trumpeted as the one to put the company back on its feet. They stick around for a couple of years, struggling to make any impact, other than to the detriment of staff welfare and morale. They then quietly move (or are moved) on, leaving those left behind to try to clear up their mess. Remarkably, they quite often resurface somewhere else in another top position to start all over again. They are like failed football managers, doing the rounds of various clubs until their lack of ability is exposed.

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  • April 5, 2019 at 4:05 pm
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    Some good responses by From the word furnace, archantlifer, Employee X, Hazebruh, Norfolk ‘n Good and Prospectus here. Has Frank Lee ever worked on the shop floor? Somehow, I have my doubts…

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