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Newsquest's photo policy "a grave mistake"

28 September 2015

NUJ response to further losses of photographer roles as part of Newsquest's policy to “move away from images provided by staff photographers”:

Following the abolition of the posts of picture editor and deputy picture editor at the Southern Daily Echo's Southampton office, the title has announced plans for further cuts. Three staff photographers at the paper have been placed at risk of redundancy with only one of them set to be retained.

The move was announced in a statement by editor Ian Murray, published by HoldtheFrontPage:

 “As part of the introduction of the Newsquest Newsroom of the Future project including digital streamlining of the multimedia newsrooms and content gathering across Newsquest, changes are proposed to the editorial department in Southampton.
“In the light of increasing user generated content, it is proposed to reduce the size of the photographic department from three full-time photographer positions to one photographer role. The role of chief photographer is not affected by this proposal.
“The proposed changes would see the emphasis move away from images provided by staff photographers and towards greater use of freelancers, user generated contest and images provided by other members of the editorial staff."

Chris Morley, NUJ national Newsquest coordinator, said:

"These photographic cuts are the latest in a long, dismal line of similar cuts elsewhere in the country. They are a grave mistake and put trusted and respected media titles under real reputational risk. Wealthier vested interests will now have latitude to determine what images about them reach the sunlight of publication.
"Stories about individuals and organisations unable to afford their own professional photography will be increasingly marginalised.Verification and authenticity of user-generated content will be increasingly difficult to achieve, opening Newsquest to attacks on the reputation of its titles. It will also open up local managers to the temptation of stealing copyrighted images off the internet without permission or payment.
"Furthermore, any thought editors might have of utilising cheap freelance labour to get over the crisis of credibility will melt away as redundant photographers vote with their feet and leave the news industry altogether."

Tags: , local newspapers, local news matters, newsquest, photographers, redundancies, cuts, southern daily echo, southampton