The Chartered Institute of Journalists, one of Britain’s journalists’ unions, has also condemned the use of amateur photographs by broadcasters in their coverage of the bombings.
In a letter to the jounralists’s trade newspaper Press Gazette, the CIoJ expressed concern that big media organisations are exploiting citizen reporters by “grabbing” the potentially-lucrative rights to their footage with no payment and no responsibilty for the danger amateurs might face collecting images:
The union said that US-based broadcaster CNN “takes the prize” for “sheer effrontery”. On its website CNN tells those who send in material: “You agree to indemnify defend and hold harmless CNN, its parent and affiliated companies, its and their licensees, successors and assigns, and each of its and their officers, agents and employees from all liabilities or losses, including, without limitation, reasonable attorney’s fees”.
The CIoJ said: “These TV companies deserve condemnation for their outrageous demands and their disregard for the danger they may be subjecting their viewers to in their attempt to obtain picture material. Just in case anyone thinks these dangers are exaggerated, remember that two Press Photographers in recent times have met their death while attending major news stories in London alone. One killed by the IRA Bishopsgate bomb blast in the City of London, the other during rioting in Brixton.
“We, at the Chartered Institute of Journalists recommend that non-professionals should not send in material to these above mentioned TV companies while they continue to exploit and denigrate news photography and their potential contributors, both professional and non-professional, in this way.”
To some extent, there is an element of photojournalists protecting their professional turf here.
Their point about the dangers press photographers face is a odd, because professional crisis photographers chose to attend high-risk locations. The 7/7 cameraphone pictures, by contrast, were taken by people who happened to be caught up in the attacks. They did not chose to be put in the position of being able to gather that material.
But on the other hand, the CIoJ have a point about exploitation. Posting your cameraphone pictures on a blog is one thing, but handing them over to a big media outlet to sell is a completely different relationship.
If you have a particularly good picture, why should you hand it over for someone else to profit from? Freelance journalists get paid for this sort of thing, and so should you.