Nationals urged to pay more for news and pics

Johnson: ‘constant battle to get paid a decent rate’

The National Association of Press Agencies has urged national papers to increase the rates paid for news and pictures or else risk driving its members out of business.

The issue of pay was high on the agenda when NAPA met for its 20th anniversary conference in Bournemouth last weekend.

According to chairman Chris Johnson, it is now launching a major campaign to persuade the nationals to increase rates, which in some cases have not changed for 20 years.

NAPA, which represents 48 agencies, says national titles now typically pay £150 for a page-lead story and about the same for a submitted picture.

Johnson said: “There is one recurring topic of late that has dominated the working conferences that we hold three or four times a year, and that is payment.

“There was a time when newspapers and freelances never argued about money – sadly those days are a fading memory. It has become a constant battle to get paid a decent rate for the job or in some cases to get paid at all in anything like a reasonable timescale.

“Hardly a month has gone by for nearly a decade in which we have not encountered some new difficulty in getting fair and economic rates from newspapers, broadcasters or magazine publishers.”

Johnson highlighted the case of Kent News and Pictures, which was paid £75 by the Daily Record for a first-person account of the UN headquarters bombing in Iraq. Last month, KNP threatened to boycott the Record over the payment, which it described as “insulting”.

He said: “It was simply a classic example of the kind of penny-pinching we endure. All too frequently, the credit offered for a story falls far short of the investment that has gone into it and what is truly economic to ensure continued supply. And that has got to be a huge wake-up call for newspaper managements.”

NAPA has already made representations to the House of Commons All-Party Small Business Group and this is to be followed by approaches to all the national newspapers.

Johnson said: “We need to convince managements that it is in their own interests to pay the going rate for news and pictures. It is the only way to ensure continued supply and guarantee their competitive edge in the marketplace.

“The stark fact is that if rates do not go up, we will very soon see agencies and freelances switching away from national newspapers and turning their hands to more rewarding business elsewhere.

“We are issuing a friendly warning to newspapers: pay the right rate for the job or risk losing the services of freelance agencies – the life-blood of national newspapers.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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