From left to right: Justin McManus, Joe Armao, Pat Scala, Danie Sprague, Angela Wylie, Simon O’Dwyer, Rebecca Hallas, Michael Clayton-Jones, Penny Stephens, Jason South, Leigh Henningham, and Eddie Jim
The industry is in mourning.
It is the demise of something great. The sale of newspapers has declined around the world yet The Age has a committed readership with daily newspaper sales over 210,000 and at least 90,000 accessing the news digitally.
Many Australians still want quality journalism and great photojournalism.
The Fairfax cutbacks in early 2014 have seen over 25% of their journalists disappear. The CEO Greg Hywood addressing staff stated that Fairfax will maintain quality content and investigative journalism.
There was a threat of losing most of The Age full time photographers and replacing their images with those from large news agencies such as Getty Images.
One initiative was to have a slide night at a Melbourne pub to seek support.
The invitation to the night said. “Come and support the best snappers in the business; people who have committed their careers to recording the history of Melbourne and who now face the chop.”
At the slide night Jason South spoke of the teamwork with journalists and the mateship between the photographers which have been such an important part of The Age over so many years. There is also the dedication and commitment to getting that great news picture. When in Timor he said, “They had guns and I had a wide angle lens.”
Will that resolve remain?
Jason also spoke about the image that was on the front page the day before. He had spent hours at the Melbourne protests against the changes to University funding and got some good images. He went back to the office, filed his photos and was finished for the day. Yet, on his way home, he thought he would have another look at what was happening.
When he arrived the police were physically dragging and arresting the protesters. The agency photographers had gone home.
With irate readers and the effective social media campaign, The Age has kept the majority of photographers with some going to Getty, but assigned by Fairfax.
I am heartened knowing that there are still great Picture Editors (even a new one to liaise with Getty Images) and albeit a depleted band of photographers but I am certain that they will continue to create images that are intelligent, meaningful and passionate.