Tag Archive: newspapers

Photographers hit hardest by newspaper layoffs


A Pew Research Center study shows that photographers have been hit hardest by US newspaper layoffs since 2000. There has been a 32% reduction in writing staff (from ~25,500 to ~17,500 writers), but newspaper photographers’ numbers have decreased about 42% (from 6,171 to 3,493). Newspapers frequently cite changing technologies or ease of training writers to take photos or video as they report the news. Over at Sun-Times/Dark Times we’ve seen just how bad that can get through comparisons between Tribune and Sun-Times coverage after the Sun-Times laid off its entire photography staff.

I always find it curious that newspapers are quick to train writers to serve as photographers in these situations, and that almost never goes the other way.

The Walmart of Photography makes $120,000/week selling old newspaper photos on eBay

Rogers Photo Archive on eBay

Rogers Photo Archive on eBay

This is weird. Old press card photos of staffers from the Miami Herald are up for sale on eBay. Above is a 1981 image of columnist Edwin Pope, a print of which can currently be had for $28.88. Wait…what?!

I knew that newspapers have been selling off their photo archives, and had heard about the Arkansas-based John Rogers Photo Archive buying up many major newspapers’ photos. But I didn’t know what Rogers was doing with the photos. He started with the Detroit News and then eventually acquired the licensing and print sales rights to the photo archives of the Boston Herald, the St. Petersburg Times, the Denver Post, and other storied news organizations and individual photographers. It’s a good deal for the newspapers. The cash-strapped publications get a one-time payment and a searchable digital archive of their work. For Rogers, the deal was less clear immediately. He’d managed to parlay old sports photographers’ archives into major deals with trading card manufacturers. Images of celebrities and politicians in the newspaper archives would be valuable, but Rogers also began to put ordinary newspaper images up for sale on eBay and the money started to roll in.

The Rogers Archive is now one of the largest stores on eBay, with over 2 million images for sale (I’m not sure if there are other seller profiles operated by the Rogers Archive, but here’s one with 50,000+ images). In a 2012 interview with the Arkansas Times (That’s a great link, by the way, and where Rogers calls his archive the “Walmart of Photography”. Read it for a good background on all of this), Rogers says that eBay sales of old newspaper images bring in $120,000 a week. That’s not a typo. And that’s not the Rogers Archive’s only source of income. But that’s why and how prints of old press card photos of newspaper staff are showing up on eBay.

The Rogers Archive website says that a stock licensing portal will be made to facilitate licensing these images, but promises says it will be coming soon in 2011. Digital Stock Planet‘s website just says “under construction.”


(via Romenesko)

Seattle Times Company Donates Ad Space to Campaigns

This week the Seattle Times Company, publisher of The Seattle Times newspaper, announced that they would be donating ad space in the newspaper to support two Washington State political campaigns: the “Yes on R-74 Campaign” (a referendum supporting Same-Sex Marriage in the state) and the Republican candidate for Governor Rob McKenna as a pilot project to prove the worth of paid political advertising in newspapers at a moment when such investment by campaigns is dwindling. The Times is the only remaining daily newspaper in Seattle following the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s move to web-only in 2009. The first of the full page ads, which are considered independent expenditures and the content of which is not coordinated with McKenna’s campaign (or the Seattle Times’ newsroom, for that matter), appeared in Thursday’s newspaper and will continue this week. The value of the contribution of ad space in support of the McKenna campaign, at market rates, is $75,000 so far and it is believed a similar value will be given as an in-kind contribution to the Washington United for Marriage campaign which is advocating for the approval of Referendum 74.

The Seattle Times newsroom has a comprehensive article about the controversy: “Times Co. criticized for McKenna, gay-marriage ad campaigns” and The Stranger, an independent weekly newspaper in Seattle, also has strong coverage of the story on their website’s blog called the SLOG, including their news item about the ads, questions raised by Rob McKenna’s Democratic opponent Jay Inslee and responses by The Seattle Times company and some of the reporters in the Seattle Times newsroom.

The Times Company’s spokeswoman Jill Mackie describes this move as a “one-time pilot project aimed at demonstrating the power of print advertising” in an interview with The Stranger. The Times has previously endorsed both the Republican candidate for governor and the pro R-74 campaigns in this election cycle. Seattle Times Executive Editor David Boardman said in the Times’ article that the Seattle Times news department “was not part of the discussion or the decision to do this.” In the same article the Times quotes Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute: “It’s not the newspaper’s problem; it’s not the publisher’s problem; it’s not even the readers’ problem; it’s the problem of the reporters who are covering these issues and these candidates. Their credibility at stake.”

Paid political advertising in our national newspapers is not new, and is not under oversight at this moment. We must look closely at the Seattle Times’ leadership and ethics as a company that intends to buy advertising in their own product to support one particular position on a electoral vote (R-74) and one partisan political candidate, while also attempting to maintain an effective and neutral newsroom. I, for one, am angry and confused about the handing of these expenditures (their planning, their placement, their timing) no matter the possible benefits each campaign might receive from the Times Company’s donation. I have positions on both of the campaigns that are at the center of the Times’ marketing stategry and that does not get in the way for a moment about my anger of how this is being done. It is not about the issues in the campaigns, I see the issue as how a newspaper company can so clumsily be trying to help swing races in this manner. The ethical shortcomings are vast and disheartening. But it remains to be see if this is a smart business decision, as I cannot help but admit, that might be the only avenue the Seattle Times Company has left: growing its business of selling political adverts at the cost of further undermining its own editorial divisions. This could indeed be a smart business decision, that least the newspaper’s readership and in turn our democracy in a far less informed place.

There are a lot of questions, and way too many speculations to indulge in here. But have any of our readers heard of similar programs which blur the business of a newspaper so much as the Seattle Times Company placing their own branded ads into their paper alongside editorial pages? And what must the staff think about this inside work-around on political fundraising and expenditures? There are rumors of a Seattle Times staff rebuttal to how they are being treated (for example: this momentous decision happening behind their backs) but also expressing their concern for the future of their reporting careers in this city in the possible wake of the paper losing credibility amongst some sources and voters.

This will be a test case to watch. Can you think of any other ones like it that we can see and compare with? Interesting times in my home town, no matter.

Newspapers fall short with digital revenue

“There’s no doubt we’re going out of business right now.”
-unnamed news exec, speaking to the Project for Excellence in Journalism

Newspapers aren’t out of the woods yet. There weren’t as many layoffs in 2011 as in, say, 2009, but newspapers still have a difficult time drawing in revenue from their digital offerings. A new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism explores how newspapers are doing in their efforts to build digital revenue. The results are grim.

While some papers have seen digital revenue grow, many have seen stagnant or negative growth. In general, for every seven dollars lost in print revenue, papers make just one dollar with digital advertising. Many newspapers have devoted resources to create Groupon-like deals sites and other non-traditional revenue models. These coupon programs have grown, but still bring in only 5% of digital revenue.

The study points out a few factors that may explain this poor performance. There are three times more print-focused salespeople at the papers studied than digital salespeople. There is a conflict between people trying to innovate at papers and the entrenched legacy of traditional newspaper revenue and reporting models. And newspapers don’t have resources to experiment with non-traditional revenue streams.

The study’s long, but well worth a read if you’re interested in the future of newspapers.

(via Nieman Journalism Lab)

Same photo – different story: An Analysis of Newspapers’ Coverage of Recent Student Protests

Recent UK Newspaper coverage of student protests - compiled by Political Scrapbook

Recent UK Newspaper coverage of student protests - compiled by Political Scrapbook

The usual accusation made against the media in these scenarios is that they treat the violent minority as representative . In this case it is literally true, in the sense that this photo of one over-excited protestor is used to portray the whole event. But in fact the narratives are more nuanced. -Charlie Beckett

Charlie Beckett offers thoughtful analysis of how the newsmedia uses imagery to flesh out narratives by looking at recent coverage of the student protests in London. A number of newspapers used the same image as their cover, as seen in the image above from Political Scrapbook. Worth a read and a look.

(via Photography Prison)

What do you expect of us? Mexican newspapers and the drug war

This is a story from last week, but is still incredible and terrible. In response to the recent attacks on their journalists and photographers the El Diario de Juarez newspaper from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico posted an editorial on the front page of their paper asking the drug cartels, who they consider “the de-facto authorities”, “What do you expect from us as a medium?”.

“We are looking for a peace agreement. No story is worth the life of anyone anymore.”

The newspaper had not decided to stop publishing stories on the drug war, [Gerardo] Rodriguez said, but would consider doing so if the answer that came from the cartels indicated that was their wish.

Describing El Diario as a “very aggressive” organisation that “searches for the truth”, he conceded that the paper might have to scale back its work if the violence did not stop.

“We may consider stopping in exchange for the lives of our reporters.”

Conditions and threats against journalism in this and many other cities in northern Mexico, not to mention the population, police, politicians, are dire.
The BBC reports on this story and says, “the editorial insisted it was not ‘a surrender’, saying instead that it had simply become ‘impossible to do our job in these conditions’.”

Jesus Alcazar/AFP/Getty Images

A sad turn of events. I can’t hold it against these journalists for seeking clarification, in whichever way possible, of the new rules of society under the occupation of cartels. Best wishes to our comrades in arms doing their best in a hostile environment.

Some good, long reads

I’m back in the US and one of my favorite things about the return home is reading long magazine articles. I just found a stash of recent New Yorkers at a thrift store at 25 cents a pop, and I’m in heaven. Others online have been collecting and sharing some of their favorite long reads. Here are a few good resources:

Unfortunately, these lists are all pretty limited to American journalism. But armed with those lists, you should have several years worth of reading material. Reading on a screen is never fun, though, and you could probably go broke on the printer ink alone. Nothing beats the printed page, but there are a few tools (Readability, Instapaper, Read It Later) that will make electronic reading less of a pain.

Interview: Alex Garcia and the Chicago Tribune’s new photoblogs

Assignment Chicago - Chicago Tribune Photo Blog by Alex Garcia

Assignment Chicago - Chicago Tribune Photo Blog by Alex Garcia

Alex Garcia, photographer at the Chicago Tribune, contacted us a little while back about his new photoblog at the Chicago Tribune website. I thought it’d be a great opportunity to learn a little about how a major newspaper approaches photography online and how major metro newspaper staffs are starting to use internet publishing in their daily workflow. There’s some good advice in his answers for any of you trying to approach your publication’s management about starting an official photo blog.

dvafoto: How did the photo blog come about? What sort of behind the scenes groundwork did you have to do to get editors and management onboard?

Alex Garcia (AG): Scott [Strazzante] and I had been publishing photo blogs on our own but with the permission of Torry Bruno (the A.M.E for photo). The goal all along was to migrate the blogs to the paper, but the right opportunity hadn’t come along to do so. In the process, we were all able to understand how much work was involved to publish a blog, and what issues we would run into with our commentaries. So we worked close together to avoid any problems. Our readership were friends, family, colleagues, and eager-to-learn photogs, so it was a pretty forgiving crowd. Separately, in order to promote reader engagement, the Tribune decided to form the Trib Nation blog at chicagotribune.com. Its goal is to engage readers in the workings and understandings of the newspaper process. Torry saw that such a blog wouldn’t be complete without photos, which people respond to emotionally. It helped that the Trib Nation blog editor James Janega was a big proponent of photos, and a decent photographer himself. So we formed the Trib Photo Nation photo blog under the umbrella of Trib Nation, with two individual photo blogs, Assignment Chicago (mine) and Shooting from the Hip (Scott’s). Our executive editor Gerry Kern is a big fan of photography, and speaks the language. He and Jane Hirt, managing editor, are both strong proponents, but it’s still a process with many players. So it took some time.

How do you decide what goes on the blog? What’s its goal? Is it a tease for print content, a way to get outtakes into the light of day, a way for you to engage more with your stories in a public way, a place to talk about photography, a place to talk about the process of photojournalism? What do you expect readers to get out of the blog?

AG: I think you pretty much hit on all of those goals. Scott and I both love that now that we are on the Tribune site, we can publish outtakes. Off-brand we couldn’t do that, because there was less copyright protection in case someone swiped a photo. I think the primary goal is reader engagement. You want people, especially Chicagoans, to participate and engage in the product that we put out. In so doing, I think we all benefit – as long as we all remain open-minded about receiving new thoughts and/or criticism. Opening ourselves up to people in an engaging way is not something that photographers typically do. We send in our work and then go home before we pick up the paper or check out the website, etc.. The blog is supposed to be more of a vehicle for social engagement, so it’s not just like an online portfolio or something.

Personally, I like giving my work greater longevity. So much of what I shoot is never seen by anyone, or gone in a minute on the internet. Having a photo blog enables me to shape my vision and thoughts, and to communicate more fully than any other medium. We get into this business to share, and this is a platform to do so if there ever was one. I like to write and to express thoughts through words. Some people don’t and find the prospect daunting.

I hope that people will see through my photo blog that photojournalists are three-dimensional people, not the cartoonish characters that are often imagined or portrayed in entertainment media. I also hope that I can give younger photographers some advice that will be useful – not just strobe advice but perspective on what they want to achieve in their career. There are many routes in photography and photojournalism, and I think people starting out want to know what to expect and what is possible. If you want to dedicate yourself to something in life, you need those answers.

What’s the reader response to the Tribune’s photo blogging efforts?

AG: Very positive. People love the larger photos and the photographer back-stories. I think long-term individual photo blogs will always work better than staff-blogs because readers respond more to the personal connection and the unique take that you get with one photographer’s voice. But it’s a new initiative, two weeks old, so we are just getting out there. I thought we would inherit a lot of traffic, but the reality is that the Tribune has many other bloggers who all want promotion as well. So we are trying to promote ourselves above the din of voices.

How do the Tribune photographers use their blogs? Is there a mandatory blog contribution every week/2weeks/month? Do they run things by you, the blog manager, before posting, or is it a free-for-all? What’s the photographers’ response been to the blogs?

AG: Only 2 photographers have blogs at the moment. Publication frequency is up to us, whatever we feel is enough to keep people coming back without diluting the quality. I’m at four times/week, and Scott is around that too, although he varies himself more – usually publishing more than that, than less. Now that the work is published on the Tribune site, we have to have our postings run by Robin Daughtridge, the director of photography. I’m happy for that. She used to be a copy editor a long time ago, and I trust her judgment. It’s easy as a photographer to not always see the bigger picture of the newspaper and our chain, so she helps with that. I think other photographers would like to blog as well, so depending on how it goes with us that will probably happen. But it will add more workload because that means everyone’s work will have to be vetted.

Now that you’ve got a couple months under the blog’s belt, what have you learned that might be useful to others trying to get a photoblog going at their paper?

AG: Be willing to explore every angle to persuade the editor of the website to get aboard. It shouldn’t be that hard because the facts are on our side as photographers. We are becoming a visual culture and rich media is driving everything now. Even Google is getting smarter about indexing images. Which reminds me. Persuade them that still images and video can form the part of their SEO strategy. Learn how to optimize your images so that your pictures show up in web searches. That will drive more traffic to your company’s website. Or learn about wordpress or typepad so that you can tell them things are possible when they are inclined to believe or say that they aren’t. Our designer said that there wasn’t a good template for photo galleries, and that’s why we hadn’t done a photo blog. At that point, I knew enough about publishing platforms that I said, “Why do we need a photo gallery template for a photo blog? Let’s just make a one-column blog and insert images according to the width of the page.” He hadn’t thought of that, but he knew that I knew what I was talking about. And that’s what we did.

I’ve almost been photo-blogging for a year now, but only a couple weeks at the paper. Individually, I think the most useful thing is to think about how you are going to grow an audience. We don’t have a link on our home page, so if anyone is going to find my photo blog, it’s going to come through my own promotion. And that takes time. You can’t just set up a twitter account and facebook page and expect traffic to grow quickly. Even when you get huge spikes of traffic as I have, you only keep a small percentage of that as recurring readers. You could easily spend three times as much time promoting your photo blog through social media, etc.. as you would actually blogging.

The other thing to consider is, do you shoot the kinds of things that people are going to want to see? I shoot a lot of grief because of my early morning shift, but I’m not posting that to the blog, because if they want to see that, they can go to the main site. People don’t want to be overwhelmed by grief. And promoting that on Twitter would be unseemly at best “check it out. great shot of mom crying”… It might be better to have a photo blog on a theme that is particularly compelling to your readers. I work in a big city, so there are a lot of interesting/crazy/new things happening. People also enjoy photos of the city and its landscape. In a different area, something else than a generalist blog might work better.

How does the blog fit into your normal workday at the paper? 3 posts a week, I see on the about page; planning? budget? design? cost (I know the Big Picture goes through a lot of money for bandwidth; I’d guess you aren’t getting the same sort of traffic, but I’m sure the cost of hosting it/designing it/spending time updating it is something to consider)

AG: I post now 4 times a week, with the fourth day being a Photo Tip Tuesday entry (example). Juggling everything is not easy. I have assignments to get out, images to prep and posts to write. In the back of my mind throughout the week, I’m making a mental note of when I will post which photo, and whether I need to get out and shoot more to repopulate the pipeline. The photo blog is not perceived to be mission critical, so I can’t say to the assignment desk “Oh, I can’t shoot that, I have to work on my photo blog” I don’t think some of the other photographers on staff realize how much it adds to your mental workflow. It probably comes to about 8 hours/week, interspersed between my workday and sometimes off-time. Most of the work is pretty straightforward because of the templates and automation involved. In addition to time of production and promotion, you also spend more time monitoring comments and traffic sources, etc.. It could easily bog you down if you let it. Because Robin is also running a photo staff blog, I know she is aware of the time and difficulty of the endeavor.

I think the costs you mention are minimal. IF it were a video blog that might be different, but I’ve never heard anyone talk about the cost of maintenance as a reason not to do something.

Be sure to check out Alex Garcia’s portfolio website, blog, facebook page, and twitter.

The Mysterious Reappearing Newspaper

The same newspaper appears in many different movies and television shows.

The same newspaper appears in many different movies and television shows.

Slashfilm (possibly taking the story from reddit) details the repeated use of the same prop newspaper across many films and television shows. It’s in Desperate Housewives, No Country For Old Men, Everybody Hates Chris, and countless other productions. As slashfilm notes, it’s like a visual Wilhelm Scream.

(via waxy.org)

Explaining Rand Paul’s political success as a result of cuts in the local media

“The reason it matters is that because there is no longer a healthy, aggressive press corps–and no David Yepson-type dean of political journalists–candidates don’t run the same kind of gauntlet they once did. They’re not challenged by journalists.” -Joshua Green

Pundits have been offering all sorts of theories to explain the political success of Rand Paul, the radical libertarian/Tea Party candidate who recently won the Republican primary in Kentucky, especially in light of Paul’s recent political pratfalls: attacking the 1964 Civil Rights Act and saying BP is not to blame for the Gulf oil spill. Now the Republican party is trying to wrangle in the unpredictable politician.

David Simon, and others, have suggested that the next decade without newspapers will be a golden age of political corruption. Now, Joshua Green, writing on the Atlantic’s website, thinks layoffs at Kentucky newspapers, especially at the Louisville Courier-Journal, are to blame for Rand Paul’s ascendancy and his inability to handle national media attention (the Civil Rights Act flub happened during a national television interview on MSNBC and Paul became only the 3rd guest in over 60 years to pull out of an appearance on Meet the Press, a nationally-broadcast Sunday morning political news show). Without an agressive local press before the primaries, Green argues, Paul managed to keep voters focused on his message of a balanced budget and government overstepping the Constitution. Now that he faces the scrutiny of the national press corps willing to aggressively question Paul’s talking points, he’s making the sorts of mistakes one would expect to be uncovered by the local media before primary elections.

There is some counterpoint to this position, though, laying blame on the national media from the start. The Courier-Journal did, in fact, publish an editorial on April 25 which said Paul “holds an unacceptable view of civil rights.”