Media use of amateur bombing pics

By Dominic Ponsford
 
The use of amateur mobile phone images by the media in the aftermath of the London bombings has been
condemned as “totally unacceptable” and “bordering on the
irresponsible”.
 
The Chartered Insititute of Journalists has particularly singled out
London News Tonight which has regularly made appeals to viewers with
mobile phone cameras.
 
The broadcaster has said: “Register with us, so we can contact you when
a news story breaks in your area, because we want you, the viewer, to
feel a part of the exciting world of newsgathering”.
 
But in a letter to Press Gazette this week the CIoJ said: “What happens
if a viewer is seriously injured whilst taking part in ITV’s ‘Exciting
world of newsgathering?’. Will ITV be there to pick up the pieces and
pay the medical bills?
 
“To add insult to injury, on its website appeal for pictures, ITV
states: ‘By sending us your video footage/photographs/audio, you agree
we can broadcast, publish and edit the material and pass it onto others
for similar use in any media world-wide, WITHOUT ANY PAYMENT BEING DUE
TO YOU’.”
 
The CIoJ has also slammed the BBC for “grabbing” the rights of
pictures and footage sent in by amateurs.
 
The CIoJ said: “In each of these cases, the broadcasters seek the
right, which could be extremely lucrative, to license, syndicate or
otherwise make the material available to other broadcast and publishing
organisations around the world, keeping all profits for themselves and
without even guaranteeing the contributor that they will see their name
credited in print, or hear it broadcast.”
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The union said that US-based broadcaster CNN “takes the prize” for
“sheer effrontery”.
On its website CNN tells those who send in material: “You agree to
indemnify defend and hold harmless CNN, its parent and affiliated
companies, its and their licensees, successors and assigns, and each of
its and their officers, agents and employees from all liabilities or
losses, including, without limitation, reasonable attorney’s fees”.
 
The CIoJ said: “These TV companies deserve condemnation for their
outrageous demands and their disregard for the danger they may be
subjecting their viewers to in their attempt to obtain picture
material. Just in case anyone thinks these dangers are exaggerated,
remember that two Press Photographers in recent times have met their
death while attending major news stories in London alone. One killed by
the IRA Bishopsgate bomb blast in the City of London, the other during
rioting in Brixton.
 
“We, at the Chartered Institute of Journalists
recommend that non-professionals should not send in material to these
above mentioned TV companies while they continue to exploit and
denigrate news photography and their potential contributors, both
professional and non-professional, in this way.”
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