Mobile phone images can't become norm

Aren’t we lucky that the technology has arrived that enables
“Citizen Journalism”? We experienced the true birth of “CJ” back in
July during the morning of the London bombings.

Members of the
public who were caught up in the atrocities recorded their experiences,
and broadcasters and the media then picked these up.

But, what of
these 21st century “Citizen Journos”? They receive zero money for their
possibly historical contributions but, more importantly, their material
is then treated as being “royalty free” by the media.

Media
outlets are now exhorting readers and viewers to send in material,
mostly obtained on mobile phones, and even the most interesting images
are of such poor quality that it makes the professional want to cry.

So
now we have all these doshhungry mobile phone users, none of whom will
be insured (as professional photographers would be), many of whom will
put themselves into dangerous positions to “get that shot”.

I am
sure that it is only a matter of time before “CJ” will find its true
place (and it does have one), but first the industry has to sort itself
out.

Until the industry regulates itself – by recognising these fortuitous “CJ”

contributions
as just that, and paying for them, treating them as a proper resource,
recognising copyright and their true value – the industry will be
laughed at.

The BBC already treats professionals as “CJs” with its disrespectful terms.

National
newspapers haven’t increased their freelance rates in 10 years. As for
local newspapers, they generally pay so little that the NUJ suggests
members might not wish to supply them.

If the industry isn’t
careful, it won’t be long before the only images it can source will be
from members of the public who have a mobile phone.

Pete Jenkins
member of the Photographers Sub Committee (vice-chair), Midlands
representative for the Freelance Industrial Council, National Union of
Journalists

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