Major publisher's pictures budget is less than your daily cup of coffee a week
© Mark Thomas
12 February 2018
£15 a week.
That is the budget available to spend on photography at local Johnston Press newspapers in Scotland.
This sum amounts to less than a daily cup of coffee from your local takeaway. Johnston Press, publishers of local newspapers such as Deeside Piper, Fife Herald, and Montrose Review, has cut away at the amount its spends on professional photographers. It is a similar situation at its titles across the UK, where staff photographers have become an endangered species.
Like many other major publishers, they have come to rely instead on amateurs and members of the public to submit their own photos – without payment.
Newsquest, which owns more than 165 news brands, is also actively seeking to reduce its use of professional photographers and turning to camera clubs and readers for the use of their free images. By giving Newsquest their pictures, camera club amateurs lose the ownership and the company can use them across any of the newspaper titles, online, in advertising campaigns or pretty much anywhere else.
Trinity Mirror, the largest newspaper group, has followed the trend; it has shed many of its staff photographers. Press Gazette said it understood that on many of its former Local World titles, staff were told that professional pictures will only be taken where free content is unavailable or inappropriate.
The NUJ believes that this is wrong.
People submitting photographs for publication should be getting properly paid for their work. This becomes particularly evident when members of the public, who happen to be in the right place at the right time, find their shots published all over the world; for example the Glasgow helicopter crash on the roof of the Clutha bar and the photograph of the royal family walking about in Sandringham.
Most newspapers will pay highly for such pictures; there is no reason why amateurs should not benefit.
Newspaper groups have come unstuck by their reluctance to pay when they have used images without checking copyright. A memo from Newsquest management warned staff that the company faced fines for lifting images from the internet.
The NUJ's #Useitpayforit is a month-long campaign to encourage amateurs to understand the value of the photographs and videos they provide to news organisations and provide hobby camera users with the know-how and confidence to obtain proper rates for their work.