News photography lives – why we shouldn’t take professional news photography for granted

A few of my colleagues have been blogging about local news photojournalism lately. A lot of the commentary revolves around a nostalgia for a lost time, when staff jobs at local newspapers were secure and plentiful and photographs were placed well on pages by picture editors with ruthless, expert judgement.

There’s been a marked decline in the number of photographers and picture editors employed across press publishing and, particularly, in local titles. Yet the need for quality photography here is greater than ever. Every title publishes its own website, with varying degrees of success. It’s notable that the more successful sites are the ones that use photographs well. To keep viewers engaged, a gallery of high quality photographs from an event makes all the difference. The Daily Mail’s website is an obvious example of a news website that uses a good number of large photographs, frequently going so far as to dedicate entire pages just to photography. They know that this drives interest (and traffic) in a way that nothing else can. And local publishers know this too, with those deploying engaging photographs large on the page holding far more “curbside” appeal to readers – and advertisers – for longer.

National titles daily feature unique content syndicated from local papers and agencies, proving the ultimate value of having professionals on the ground, both for regional and national audiences who demand quality. Readers will not show loyalty to publishers that deliver rubbish.

High quality photography, delivered by professionals who can argue their right to photograph in order to deliver photographs that illustrate a story with impact and technical superiority, is more necessary than ever. Good photographs tell stories and influence the world. And that counts as much for a local paper in a small town as for any international title.

Below are three photographs I took whilst covering local stories in the last few weeks. They aren’t the best photographs in the world, but they are photographs taken by a professional. In at least two of these examples I had to argue and stand my ground for the right to be in place to take those photographs. They aren’t international news but I believe they’re stories that should be told, day in and day out, and that these photos tell those stories in a way that no words ever will.

Click them to view them larger and judge for yourself.

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