NUJ condemns Newsquest cost cutting scheme

Newsquest, the regional newspaper publisher, has given prizes to centres which have used the most unpaid-for copy and photographs, with its £4000 winner announced as Weymouth, which publishes the Dorset Echo and Bridport and Lyme Regis News, says the NUJ.

NUJ condemns Newsquest cost cutting scheme

The following is an abridged version of a report on the National Union of Journalists website: In the last quarter of 2017, almost 17 per cent of its Weymouth centre's editorial output was from free contributions from readers and images supplied by camera clubs, some set up by Newsquest for this very purpose.

The NUJ's #useitpayforit is advising amateur photographers to ensure they are paid if newspapers and broadcasters use their material.

A report in Hold the Front Page said Newsquest’s Falmouth centre received a £3,000 second prize for the 460 user-generated content (UGC) submissions included in print, accounting for 15.5 per cent of all content, while the Worcester centre’s 1,404 UGC submissions accounted for 15.1 per cent of content, earning it a third prize of £2,000.

This cynical exploitation of amateur photographers (and readers) – who don’t get any prizes - is condemned by the NUJ. The union is not saying it is never right to give away a picture; if you sent an image of the winners of your local tennis tournament that would be a way of promoting your club, but if it is a strong image or a news story it should probably be paid for.

The union will be publishing a guide to selling your pictures as part of the #useitpayforit campaign next week.

Chris Morley, Northern and Midlands organiser said: “We warned it risked setting Newsquest journalists in different centres against each other in a race to the bottom to maximise profits on the back of not paying for content. That has not happened because the scheme has been widely ignored as journalists have seen through it and won’t be bought in this way.

“The aim of senior managers here is not to enhance the reader’s experience as it used to be when eyewitnesses submitted on-the-spot pictures, but to substitute the work of professional journalists wholesale with content submitted - often for laudable reasons - but whose chief attribute in the eyes of the company is that it is free and can be exploited for profit.

“Managers may seek to dress it up as something else but when you look at the behaviour of the company in the round this does not stack up. To commercial companies, if an image or piece of work is worth publishing, it is worth paying for. Stop exploiting the good intentions of readers.”

Links / further reading: The NUJ’s #useitpayforit campaign