Digital journalism needs quality pictures, says NUJ as photographers’ jobs put at risk
15 October 2014
Johnston Press (JP) has announced that 13 of its photographers in its southern titles, including the Portsmouth News, Chichester Observer, West Sussex County Times, and Hastings and St Leonards Observer, have been put at risk of redundancy.
The proposal is that three multi-media images jobs will be created across the south, one in Hampshire, one in West Sussex and one in East Sussex. The 13 photographers whose jobs are at threat will be able to apply for these new roles. The decision follows a pattern of lay-offs of staff photographers across the newspaper group. The NUJ believes this is a short-sighted, cost-cutting policy which undermines the quality of news provided by JP to the communities it serves.
A JP statement said:
"A number of photographic roles have been placed at risk in the South Publishing Unit of Johnston Press following a proposal to change the way photographic content is generated. Local managers are making these difficult decisions to help ensure a sustainable, multi-platform future for local journalism.
"The company is committed to being as supportive as possible in making this transition to a successful digital future. Consultation is now under way with affected staff."
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said:
"Johnston Press shows a poverty of ambition in this announcement. The company does not appear to recognise the importance of high-quality pictures in attracting readers to their publications, whether print or digital. It is questionable whether readers will want to pay for content which they have provided themselves.
"Outsourcing the taking of pictures to the public, or offering photographers inferior freelance arrangements, with low rates and few rights, as has been done elsewhere in Johnston Press, is counterproductive.
"These jobs should be done in house by staff. This is particularly true in light of the continuing emphasis which the industry is placing on video for web and mobile devices. Many Johnston press photographers have gone the extra mile in engaging with these digital initiatives and the company is wrong to put this in jeopardy."