Dozens of photographers look set to lose their jobs as titles in the Local World group shift towards relying on reader photos and reporters taking pictures on their phones.
The cuts come three months after Local World was bought by Trinity Mirror. However, Trinity Mirror says the plan is not a result of the merger – but something Local World was already planning.
Journalists across the group have been told they are moving to a new "model", which makes use of the increasing number of photos and videos uploaded by members of the public to social media.
Press Gazette understands staff have been told that professional pictures will only be taken where free content is unavailable of inappropriate.
A spokesperson for Local World said: "With more sources of copyright-free material becoming available and our journalists having technology that allows them to take photos and video, some centres are moving to models that gives them the flexibility to cope better with changing and varying demand.”
According to the National Union of Journalists, the jobs of all photographic staff in Essex and Kent are set to go.
At the daily Leicester Mercury, all six photographers' jobs are at risk. The main picture on the title's homepage (above) appears to come from Google Streetview. The proposal is to have a picture editor plus one full-time and one part-time photographer.
At the Nottingham Post, it is proposed that the five staff photographers will be reduced to one full-time content curator and two part-time photographers.
Two photographers are set to go from the Derby Telegraph, one from the Uttoxeter Advertiser and one from the Burton Mail. Two jobs will be created. The proposal means the daily Burton newspaper will have no photographer.
Across the Whitstable Times, Herne Bay Times, Canterbury Times, Faversham Times, Isle of Thanet Gazette, Dover Express, Folkestone Herald and Ashford Herald all four photographers are set to go.
NUJ national organiser Laura Davison said: "These cuts are a kick in the teeth for committed photographers at Local World. They’ve stuck with the company through two changes of ownership in three years only to be told their skills are no longer needed within a few short months of Trinity Mirror’s takeover.
"It smacks of opportunistic budget cutting without a care for the quality of the content or the fact that local communities will be robbed of their photographers to record events such as Remembrance Sunday, sports days and news events. Do we really want the mourners at the local war memorial to be captured by selfies?
"This is an extremely short-sighted policy from a company which is attempting to drive-up digital consumption. Free photographs from readers cannot compensate for the work of professionals. Advertisers will be as unimpressed as the readers.
"These proposals need to be ditched."