Tag Archive: industry
At Popular Science, we’re pretty good about paying for work; I’ve certainly never asked someone to write a piece for free (photography, sadly, is a totally different story. I feel for photographers!). -Popsci.com editor Dan Nosowitz in a discussion between editors on paying writers
There’s been a lot of talk in the past few days after Nate Thayer posted on his blog about an Atlantic.com editor asking him to write for free. There’s a good summary of the events here. To any freelancers, it’s a common enough occurrence. If you haven’t seen Fuck You, Pay Me, start there. The Atlantic has issued an apology to Thayer, no doubt due to the attention given Thayer’s blog post.
One of the most interesting things to come out of the discussion, though, is a branch thread (?) involving editors and writers from a number of well-known online and print publications on the subject of paying writers for work. It’s called How Much Should A Writer Be Paid, If Anything. The quote above, about the sorry state of payment for photography for online journalism, is cherry-picked from well down in the discussion, but the rest is definitely worth a read for insight into how online publications compensate their contributors. It’s a very interesting look behind the curtain of pageviews and budgets.
And while the situation for writers isn’t rosy, the quote at the top shows it can be even worse for photographers (as we all know). I was happy to read last year (search for “Well, I think it has to do with paying people”) that the NYT’s Lens blog has started paying photographers. Ironic for this discussion, the Atlantic’s In Focus blog, one of the premiere photography showcases online, doesn’t pay photographers last I checked (see update below; the blog does pay for wire service subscriptions). As more and more media entities get into the online photography game, it’s important to make sure photographers are paid fairly for their work.
Update: Thanks to In Focus editor Alan Taylor for adding to the discussion with his comment down below.
“Some amateur photographers said, basically, good riddance to the pros. Some professionals said that they were struggling; others thought the story overstated the problem.” -NYT’s Pros and Amateurs Debate: Is Photography in Trouble?
- Banjo extraordinaire Danny Barnes (I don’t know his music) has a great essay on “How to Make a Living Playing Music,” and he might as well be writing about making a living taking pictures. He starts “if you are a very materialistic person, skip this article, i don’t think you are going to like what it says.” The article is partly philosophical–don’t gossip, avoid people who talk about gear, “all the trouble in the world is going to come for you in two ways. the things you say, and the things you agree to do. be very careful about these items.”–but mostly practical–”the main business strategy is to build your own audience,” “don’t be afraid to do other things to make money in the short term,” and
“be totally square on your taxes. render unto caesar that which is caesar’s. if you try to fudge on this, it will come back to bite you every time. get receipts for everything, 1099 everyone no matter what, unless they are a corporation.”
The whole thing’s a fascinating insight into what allows a successful musician to keep doing what he loves, and has many parallels to photographers working on a career.
- Kenneth Jarecke’s “2009 – Year of Transition” has a great analysis of what 2009 meant to many freelancers. He explains why he turned down editorial work (a first for Jarecke), talks about new strategies for distribution, cogently analyzes the havoc caused by editorial layoffs and how it will affect the future, and the stupidity of photographers signing “work for hire” contracts for $1200 a day with big clients.
- PDN talks with the Aftermath Project jurors to find out “What It Takes To Win An Aftermath Project Grant“
- Joerg Colberg’s excellent “We’re all Zapruders now (but that doesn’t make us journalists)” examines what it means when everyone has a camera and how that’s different from journalism.
“I don’t ever recall hearing or seeing anyone describe Abraham Zapruder as a “citizen journalist”. He was seen as what we was: A chance bystander who happened to have a camera (and use it) the moment the American president was shot and killed.”
The piece ends with strong argument for what society stands to lose by getting rid of professional journalists.
- Magtastic Blogsplosion surveys many perspectives on upcoming tablet devices and what they may mean for magazines in “The revolution to come.”
“The industry also wants to avoid the newspaper dilemma – publishers were so excited to give away their content for free in the early days of the web, that there was no thought to an industry business model – and the toothpaste is proving difficult to push back into the tube.”
- The New York Times covers big media companies’ likely plan to begin charging for online content in “Adding Fees and Fences on Media Sites.” Among the problems faced by the old guard,
“It is the established media, with their legacy of high operating costs and outdated technology, that face this problem. Leaner, newer online competitors will continue to be free, avidly picking up the users lost by sites that begin to charge.”
- PDNPulse talks with the Wall Street Journal photo department and examines how the newspaper’s attitude toward visual journalism has changed under Murdoch. PDN reports: “The good news for photography is that our editor, Robert Thomson, is a very visual person,” says Jack Van Antwerp, the paper’s photography director. And while you’re at it, check out the Wall Street Journal’s 2009 Year in Photos, which includes many friends.
On July 28, 2009, the Guardian announced new contractual terms soon to be forced upon contributing freelance photographers. In emails I’ve received about the matter, photographers liken it to the fight against the New York Times freelance agreement a few years ago. A petition has been started. Essentially, the Guardian is trying to escape usage fees for the unlimited re-use of images from commissioned assignments. Traditionally, Guardian News Media has paid for subsequent usage after initial publication. From the petition:
At a time when press photographers are suffering severe hardship as a result of the economic downturn, it comes as a further blow to be informed that [Guardian News Media] demands unlimited re-use of our photographs free of charge.”
Even if you don’t regularly shoot for the Guardian, please sign the petition in support of your fellow freelancers.
The Associated Press has lately taken to strictly enforcing its copyrights and licenses, as it should, especially as regards search engines and news aggregators (the AP insists it isn’t going after bloggers…). The implementation, on the other hand, has been laughable. The latest development, the so-called “Protect, Point, Pay” DRM licensing system, has been given a brutal and deserved parody treatment. This comes as other institutions, including the New York Times, struggle to maintain cash flow to continue (profitable) news operations. David Simon, former Baltimore Sun writer and creator of The Wire, a vocal player in recent news industry ruminations, concludes that a paywall is the best chance for major newspapers’ survival. Rupert Murdoch agrees. Newspaper executives lately have been holding secret meetings trying to figure out how to maintain operational budgets, though always with a careful eye turned toward anti-trust and price-fixing laws. Newspapers want an anti-trust law exemption, which US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi supports but which the Obama administration opposes. Perhaps the news business should be one of those industries to which Bill Maher’s new rule apply: not everything in America must turn a profit.
In the meantime, the Associated Press has also rolled out their quotation licensing software, to hilarious results. One must pay the AP when quoting as little as 5 words from a story. Worse still, perhaps, James Grimmelmann of the Laboratorium, found the AP’s automated licensing software is braindead enough to accept money and grant a license to words not written or owned by the Associated Press. The AP revoked the license and issued a statement (“It is an automated form, thus explaining how one blogger got it to charge him for the words of a former president.”), to which Grimmelmann replies. Of course, Grimmelmann’s just trolling for attention and the AP did well to refund his money for an invalid license, but the organization’s tactics are drawing too much bad publicity.
The Associated Press’s motivations are well-founded. News costs money to produce, and there are numerous outlets using the AP’s reports without paying appropriate licensing fees. Worse, these aggregators receive money for ads placed alongside this content, thus making money off of the illegal/improper/infringing distribution of the AP’s copyrighted materials. But finding an elegant solution to this dilemma has proven quite difficult, and the Associated Press’s recent attempts have only exacerbated the problem.
While I’ve known about Paper Cuts for a long time, Out of Print, a map documenting closed American newspapers (or those who’ve just stopped publishing a print edition), is new to me. The format is the same, Erica Smith plots the locations and date of closures on a Google Map of the US. Those black push-pins are not a welcome site.
Can’t remember exactly where I found this link, but it’s a useful motto. Replace “writer” with “photographer” or any other creative professional, and repeat it to yourself. Then repeat it again. When a new contest you’ve never heard of asks for a big fee, say it to yourself. When an art gallery asks for an exhibition fee, say it to yourself. When a magazine or organization asks for free pictures or, worse, asks you to pay, say it to yourself. “Money flows toward the photographer.”
No, that doesn’t mean that the author should get paper and ink for free, or that he won’t pay for postage. It does mean that when someone comes along and says, “Sure, kid, you can be a Published Author! It’ll only cost you $300!” the writer will know that something’s wrong. A fee is a fee is a fee, whether they call it a reading fee, a marketing fee, a promotion fee, or a cheese-and-crackers fee.
Is this perfect? No. Scammers have come up with some elaborate ways to avoid activating it. But it’s still a good and useful tool, and will save a lot of grief. Any time an agent or publisher asks for money, the answer should be “No!”
Yes, there are exceptions. You’ve got to pay for marketing, and you’ve got to get your name out there, and there are, sometimes, reasonable fees associated with worthwhile contests. But, in general, money flows toward the photographer. And get yourself over to the NPPA’s cost of doing business calculator and make sure that you aren’t paying more to take pictures than you’re making with your licensing and assignment fees.
The British Photographic Council recently surveyed more than 1,000 photographers, press agencies, and picture libraries and found some disturbing trends. Editorial Photographers: United Kingdom and Ireland has the results. 93% of photographers have come under pressure to hand over greater rights to clients for no increase in the fee, with 76% saying that their income has fallen as a result.
Some more key points:
These findings are only representative of the UK, but I imagine some similarities in the worldwide photo industry. More data in the full survey results PDF.
(via The Click)
I’ve just been catching up with my rss feeds, and the NPPA news feed is not making for fun reading. A few more friends have been laid off from their newspaper jobs this week, and they’re not alone:
The Denver Post, the Rocky’s joint operating partner, has cut senior editors at the paper as a cost savings measure.
I know I’m missing some, leave any more casualties in the comments. Or check out Paper Cuts for more newspaper layoff numbers.