Thursday, 30 April 2009

Photography Matters

Hopefully, by now you will all be aware of the 2nd NUJ Photographers Conference taking place in London at the Institute of Education on 18th May.

As many of you know, I missed the first conference, despite being involved a bit in the organisation as I was unexpectedly carted off to hospital the week it was taking place. However, it was reported to me by the scores of people who contacted me afterwards as being the best conference the NUJ had ever had. Personally, I am looking forward to the 2009 conference being much of the same.

I know many of you will already have booked, but quite a few won't have, and are probably wondering why you should? What do I get for my £10 I hear you ask? Life is difficult enough as it is, with clients closing down, publications unilaterally deciding to cut rates - rates that haven't in most cases increased in 15 years, why should I spend all that time and effort to come to London. What's in it for me?

Well I kind of understand that too. Myself, I am a photographer and have been all my working life, it's all I really know, and the photographers who represent us in the Photographers sub-committee are very much the same too. So in conjunction with the Freelance Organisers John Toner and Pamela Morton we have tried to put together a programme of talks and discussions that will be of the greatest benefit to the greatest number of photographers.

This is a series of seminars and discussions aimed at helping as many members as possible improve their lot in today’s difficult financial climate.

So this is what I reckon you will get for your £10:

9.30am - Registration/Tea & Coffee
Time to have a chat, network, and perhaps recover from your journey. Also the chance perhaps to talk to some of the professional concerns attending the conference to see if there is any way they can help you with their particular professional services

10.00am - Welcome to the conference - John Toner, Freelance Organiser, NUJ
John is the organiser (along with Pamela Morton) who in most cases deal with photographer issues and represents us in a number of ways with the Police, at newspaper and publisher meets, the IPO etc. Just how many ways does the NUJ work on your behalf without you even realising it?

10.15am - 11.30am: Choice of:
• The Business of Photography including: Expanding your horizons; Photographers and their websites; Stock photography.

Paul Herrmann, Director of Redeye, Paul is known by many for his work in and around Manchester, working for a wide range of clients.

Nick McGowan-Lowe is another well-known photographer and one who understands websites and their benefits to photographers; amongst his portfolio he is the web editor of EPUK. How can photographers use websites to further their marketing and better their businesses?

David Hoffman has specialised in social issues photography for more than 30 years. Resolutely independent, he primarily shoots stock for his own photo library, rather than working to commissions. Well known to many photographers for his no nonsense approach. Whilst a good stock library was seen at one time to be the photographer’s pension, this is clearly no longer the case, but in these difficult times how can we make the most of stock?

Jenny Lennox – chair (NUJ Assistant Organiser North of England)

• Video and the photojournalist. Video is seen by many publications as being the next step, and already many national and regional newspapers see video as a necessity.

Antonio Olmos. Former Miami Herald staffer and based in London since 1993, Antonio travels the world and is a regular for the Observer. Newspapers have grasped video with a passion so it seems, Antonio can tell us more.
George Chin. George is another veteran, and who has been working in the music industry for a long time. So just how does a stills photographer find himself doing online video?

Pete Jenkins – chair. A veteran photographer starting off with black and white dunk tanks in Fleet Street, now working in Nottingham. Pete is the Vice-chair of the NUJs Photographers Sub-Committee.

11.45am - 1.30pm: Choice of:
• Copyright and Intellectual Property including: Economic & moral rights; Orphan works, European dimension.

Kate Fox, the Thompsons copyright specialist is in a good position to help photographers understand their economic and moral rights. In a climate where publishers think they can ride roughshod over individuals how much can they actually get away with? Kate can help you know when to say NO.

Linda Royles, former Chief Executive at the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies puts Linda in a prime position to understand the Orphan rights issue. It may have gone quiet for a moment, but there is every chance that it could come back. How does it affect us, and what should we do about it?

Pamela Morinière is the authors' rights officer at International Federation of Journalists. Did you know that in Germany author’s rights always remain with the created work?

Pamela Morton – chair. Pamela is the NUJs Assistant Freelance Organiser

• The Dangers of the Trade Highlighting some of the problems photographers might well face when working, particularly abroad, and why it is so important that Photojournalists are able to continue working.

Penny Tweedie, has worked in more than 70 different countries working for a wide range of clients covering subjects as disparate as child gunmen and women in sport

Guy Smallman, is known for his work both at home and abroad and has had some harrowing experiences, some of them life threatening.
Julio Etchart – Chair. After studying Documentary Photography at Newport Art College, Julio has travelled round the world for the international media.

1.30pm - 2.30pm: Lunch also a Q&A session on Colour Management with Neil Barstow, with Michael Walker

Neil Barstow is acknowledged by many as being the foremost colour expert in the UK, and is available to answer questions during a Q&A session.

Michael Walker is the digital editor of Photo Pro Magazine and is the author of numerous books.

Pete Jenkins - chair. A veteran photographer, beginning with black and white dunk tanks in Fleet Street, now working in Nottingham. Pete is the Vice-chair of the NUJs Photographers Sub-Committee.

Also possibly time to have a chat, network, and perhaps compare notes on the morning sessions. Perhaps the chance perhaps to talk again to some of the professional concerns attending the conference to see if there is any way they can help you with their particular professional services

2.30pm - 4.30pm: Photography in Public Spaces. What are the many problems facing photographers in the streets of Britain? Over zealous policing, confusion over privacy, and a general public that assumes so much?

Jeff Moore (chair of the BPPA) and Paul Stewart (National Association of Press Agencies) will open with a slide show illustrating many of the problems that photographers are facing in todays politically charged environment.

Rupert Grey a consultant with Swan Turton who specialises in libel and copyright law, in addition has been involved in many leading cases in the field of media law. He has wide experience of pre-publication advice to national and provincial papers as well as dealing with claims: his clients include educational and other national institutions, as well as well-known private individuals. He advises photographers and syndication agencies on all aspects of copyright law, and regularly lectures and gives seminars in the UK and overseas on aspects of media law.

There will be a solicitor to talk about PACE & the Terrorism legislation TBA

Commander Bob Broadhurst is known to many journalists, was appointed Commander of Public Order and Pan London Operational Support in July 2006.and is the policeperson in charge of operational planning for the 2012 Olympics. He has almost twenty years experience of commanding public order events, including the 2009 Gaza protests in London

Dave Rotchelle – Chair. Dave is well known to members of the London freelance branch of the NUJ, as he is the chair of LFB as well as the chair of the Photographers Sub Committee

4.30pm-5.00pm: Break, coffee

More time to have a chat and network. Yet another chance to talk to some of the professional concerns attending the conference to see if there is any way they can help you with their particular professional services
5pm-6pm: Photography Matters: Keynote address by Jeremy Dear, General Secretary, and Michelle Stanistreet, Deputy General Secretary, NUJ, and John Toner, Freelance Organiser.

Sponsors include Sigma, Thompsons Solicitors, TradeClips and Imaging Insurance

As well as learning more about some of the issues we have to deal with in todays 21st century, I am also looking forward to meeting many of the people which whom I correspond and deal with over the year. Meeting people face to face is important.

And don’t forget the tenner (for NUJ members’) gets you lunch as well!

For non-NUJ members I believe that the conference is also great value, after all £40 for a day (including lunch) of informative seminars and the opportunity to ask questions from a number of acknowledged experts is money well spent.

The conference (which includes lunch) will take place at the Institute of Education, Bedford Way, London, WC1, just off Russell Square.

It costs £10 for NUJ members and £40 for non-members.
For details of how to register go to:

Or contact the NUJ Freelance Office on

Pete Jenkins

Member of: The National Union of Journalists

Monday, 6 April 2009

Regional Newspapers - Why?

House of Commons Lobby, 25th March 2009

Since being based in Nottingham (it’s ten years since I moved up here) I haven’t spend much time in London just going down for the occasional meeting, seminar or suchlike, perhaps twice a month.

The last visit I made was to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) lobby of parliament in support of an early day motion requesting support of local journalism.

Parliament is very different from my last visit (last century), Police with guns, security fences and an anti-war protest camp right outside the front gates!

I was first to arrive, and was able to see the room reserved for us fill to capacity. It really was packed, literally standing room only by 2.30 (it started at 2.00pm), and I certainly got the feeling that the MPs present, there must have been nearly fifty, maybe more by the end, were taking the matter very seriously.

Hard though the NUJ is working on this, here is no guarantee that this work will help us, but it is good to see that others outside our industry are beginning to understand the ramifications of what is happening. This isn’t just a matter of jobs and redundancies, although of course for those who are working local papers, these are the very real issues.

Local journalism has changed from being the backbone of our communities to something that has twisted and changed, and simply become unrecognisable.

I have been a journalist, in my case a photojournalist, all my life; it is all I have ever really done. For much of my career I have been a supplier of material to the regional press - local newspapers, all over the UK. Indeed, like many, my first ‘proper’ photo sale was to a local newspaper, in my case the Advertiser and Gazette in Uxbridge, in the mid seventies and I received the, (to me at the time), princely sum of £5.

In those early days, local newspapers were often owned by local companies who actually provided a service to local communities. They employed a number of specialists who produced the publications, and supplied work to numerous freelances. The community was advised of what the local authority was doing, because council meetings were reported properly rather than just having the councils PR office churn out Press Releases used (often) verbatim. Local courts were actually properly reported, so that those in the community knew who was amongst them. Today many of our local papers report only the most ‘gory’ of cases, or those upon which a press release has been received. Gone are the days of the ‘court reporter’.

Ever since the Wapping dispute of 1986, there has been a gradual erosion of quality in local journalism, as newspapers are taken over by larger organisations whose aims and goals, are not servicing the community, despite what many papers proclaim on their mastheads, but simply to make good profit for their new owners. We have had a situation where fat has been trimmed, and trimmed again, until of course it is not fat being trimmed but simply the people who do specific work are dispensed with. Court reporting as already mentioned has become a thing of the past, as has many of the specialist positions once boasted by regional newspapers.

In my own field of photography, we have seen picture desks serviced by numbers of photographers and an equal or larger number of freelances squeezed, so that in many instances there are now one or two or even no photographers working where once there were a dozen, or a score or even more.

A recent example of this is the Manchester Evening News whose photographic output has been heralded for a hundred years and even today the paper proudly puts on exhibitions, yet in 2007 all their photographers were made redundant, in one fell swoop.

Post redundancy, the papers management, very generously offered to give these professionals all formerly on £27,000 + equipment + cars + pensions + expenses etc work at £120 per day all in – a drop in pay of more than £10,000 per annum (a photographers overheads are in the region of £90.00 per day). And the management are still scratching their heads and trying to work out why they cannot get these same guys back to work for the paper on a freelance basis!

The NUJ believes that more than 2,000 jobs have been lost in regional journalism in the past year, newspapers, radio and television, and the threat is for a lot more to go.

Here in the East Midlands, Northcliffe has announced another potential 50 jobs to go at the local Northcliffe titles and another 66 to go at the sister group Harmsworth Press.

I believe that it is clear now that Regional journalism in this country is undergoing a dramatic change, a change that started with the Wapping dispute, and has been accelerating ever since. Newspapers have become something that they never were, and were not particularly intended to be, and that is a profit-making machine, and in a climate where profit is king, content suffers, and when there is a recession, in order to keep up profit, people are dispensable. Once worker (journalists) are going, content suffers, as content suffers readership goes down and advertising follows, so more people are made redundant, and content suffers. Advertising is more difficult to get, so to keep up profit more jobs go, and it becomes an unbreakable chain of events.

In 2001 I predicted that there would be no full-time freelance photojournalists working solely in regional media by 2010. We have already reached this point.

It is clear that without a reversal of this cycle, newspapers are doomed, certainly in their current form, and local news at Radio, and TV stations will suffer as well. We have already seen jobs go at both the BBC and Carlton here in Nottingham, and more will surely follow.

Most likely the best that can be achieved is that better terms are obtained for those being made redundant. It is not going to be an easy ride and many more people will find themselves as out of work or redundant journalists before it gets better.

Already many local authorities are producing their own newspapers, at the moment to churn out their own propaganda, but it is possible that new publications will come from these somewhat narrow viewpoint ones. Will new publications and magazine programmes arise from the ashes like some kind of news phoenix? It is possible. The rise of the Internet which is still very much in its infancy has not yet established itself in a stable form, and as and when appropriate subscription and advertising models settle in place, we may well find that the new local news information sources will be found here.

Member of: The National Union of Journalists