According to the NUJ, many photographers are set to lose their jobs at papers run by Local World, which operates titles in counties including Essex, Kent, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.
The publications increasingly rely on images submitted by reporters, freelancers and their own readers, the union reports.
A spokesperson for Local World told Amateur Photographer: ‘With more sources of copyright-free material becoming available and our journalists having technology that allows them to take photos and video, some centres are moving to models that give them the flexibility to cope better with changing and varying demand.’
Hitting out at the move, NUJ national organiser Laura Davison said: ‘These cuts are a kick in the teeth for committed photographers at Local World.
‘They’ve stuck with the company through two changes of ownership in three years, only to be told their skills are no longer needed within a few short months of Trinity Mirror’s takeover.’
Selfies of mourners?
Davison added: ‘It smacks of opportunistic budget cutting without a care for the quality of the content or the fact that local communities will be robbed of their photographers to record events such as Remembrance Sunday, sports days and news events.
‘Do we really want the mourners at the local war memorial to be captured by selfies?’
This is not the first time photographers have come under threat from smartphone images captured by non-professionals.
In 2014 – a year which the NUJ described as an ‘annus horribilis’ – non-photographers increasingly supplied news images as the picture quality of cameraphones improved.
In the same year, newspaper reporters in the UK refused to accept assignments normally given to professional photographers, in protest over photography job cuts.
The NUJ’s Laura Davison branded the latest move to cut jobs as ‘short-sighted’, adding: ‘Free photographs from readers cannot compensate for the work of professionals.
‘Advertisers will be as unimpressed as the readers.
‘These proposals need to be ditched.’
[Image credit: © C Cheesman]