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Newsquest's south London titles lose professional photography coverage

6 September 2016

Newsquest's titles in south London have lost their professional photography coverage after an agency partnership has ended after more than a decade.

There are no staff photographers at the Sutton newsroom which produces titles including the Croydon, Epsom, Kingston, Richmond, Sutton, Wandsworth and Wimbledon Guardians, the Richmond & Twickenham Times, the Surrey Comet and the News Shopper (Bexley, Bromley, Dartford, Gravesend, Greenwich and Lewisham editions) as well as their associated websites.

The titles liaised with the agency Deadlinepix to cover news and sports pictures across the patch.

Including this cut, staff estimate that since March the south London centre's annual costs have fallen by more than £350,000 as departing reporters and news editors have not been replaced; and it has been suggested that more cuts are on the way.

The NUJ chapel believes the loss of photo coverage will have an impact on the quality of the newspapers and websites and damage their relationship with local communities.

A spokesman said:

"There's no plan for how this cutback will work in practice - because our managing director Tony Portelli refuses to give his staff any information about his plans. It feels like he's making it up as he goes along. We've lost eight members of staff without replacement in the last six months and still he refuses to talk to us. If he's on the editorial floor, he hides away in his office. We're really worried that when tell people, 'I'm afraid we don't have photographers any more,' it will damage our papers' standing on patches they've represented for up to 162 years."

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said:

“Journalists on these titles are balloting for industrial action over inadequate staffing levels, excessive workloads, reduced quality of newspapers, the health and safety of employees, plus pay. Newsquest's disgraceful behaviour is alienating staff and readers alike. Good quality pictures are central to the long term, sustainable success of any publication. Taking a hatchet to costs over and over again is not a strategy worth the name. Staff are standing up for their papers even if the management aren't; Newsquest CEO Henry Faure Walker needs to step in and sort out this mess.”

Tags: , local newspapers, newsquest, newsquest south london, ballot, photo agency, photography, croydon guardian, epsom guardian, richmond guardian, sutton guardian, wandsworth guardian, wimbledon guardian, richmond and twickenham times, surrey comet, news shopper, Deadlinepix, Tony Portelli, local news matters