Bid to turn press photographers into “walking billboards”

Press photographers in the US are up in arms at a proposal that they should be used as walking ads at football games.

The plan is that cameramen – both still and video – working the sidelines at a football games should have to wear shirts sporting the logos of at least two advertisers.

Letters of protest have been sent to the National Football League by both the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Associated Press managing editors.

The APME letters says editors oppose the order because it goes against the idea of making photographers unwilling participants in any marketing or commercial arrangement the NFL may have with its advertising sponsors. The ASNE letters was even blunter, claiming its is anathema for any employee to be used as a ‘walking billboard”

The two companies whose logos the NFL wants to see promoted are Canon cameras and Reebok, the athletic shoe-makers.

One of the letters conceded that it was perhaps necessary to identify photographers working the sidelines at a sports event – but not as sponsors for advertisers. It compromises, the letter added, the photographers’ independence and integrity and that of the papers or tv stations that run the photographers’ pictures,

It is the second run-in that photo agencies have had with the football game promoters in recent weeks. A month ago the NFL sought to limit the use of any photo clips of its games to 45 seconds and prohibit further use after 24 hours.

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