The Digital Journalist
Common Cents:
The Sky is Falling!
October 2006

by Mark Loundy

"The sky is falling!"
— Chicken Little

What if the day came when hometown papers and TV stations could no longer shoot professional sports in their own town? What if newspapers and local TV stations all had to get their coverage from the various leagues or network feeds?

Cut to real life: The NFL has instituted a rule this season barring local TV stations from NFL sidelines during games. It seems that a local team broke the rules by putting some game footage on their local Web site. The NFL's product has become so valuable that they view local credentials as no more than a courtesy that they can now afford to dispense with. With newspapers now shooting video, this affects everybody.

How do you think the Dallas Morning News shooters would feel of they couldn't shoot the Cowboys? What if the Washington Post was barred from the sidelines at Redskins games? We're "that close" to such a thing happening.

Let's get indignant. Let's boycott coverage of the NFL. Too late. The readers would never notice. First of all, they're watching it on TV. The real diehard fans are paying for the premium cable and satellite feeds that are owned by the leagues. They no longer get their fix from print.

If all sports photographers worked for the leagues, they would no longer be doing journalism, they would be doing PR. Heck, some teams already forbid shooting pictures of any injuries that happen during practice.

Sports Illustrated would become a living museum of the way things used to be done. Damian Strohmeyer would sleep in a hermetically sealed glass case.

I recently saw a photo in a local weekly of Kevin Harvick passing Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen. The photo credit: "NASCAR.Com."

Perhaps Chicken Little was right.


Washington, D.C.-based NPR station WETA for doing the right thing when they changed the language on their Flickr Intersections site to eliminate rights-grabbing language.


Everything else is just too ugly this month.


* Northern Virginia-based "High End Silk Bedding and Nightwear Company" that advertised in Craigslist for photos for their portfolio, Web site, catalog, and for submission to major trade shows and publications. Compensation: Expenses only.

* for offering $20-$25 per night for nightlife photos.

* Experience Reality Magazine for their $10 per photo used and $20 per hour offer for assignments. ImageMaker360 is looking for photographers with high-level experience and qualifications (and equipment) to do quick turnaround virtual reality real-estate work for $30 per assignment.

* The Great Lakes Leather Alliance needed a photographer to fulfill an extensive shot list at their convention in Indianapolis. No payment. No expenses. But they were going to "comp' the photographer's attendance at the convention.

Please let me know of any particularly good, bad or ugly dealings that you have had with clients recently. I will use the client's name, but I won't use your name if you don't want me to. Anonymous submissions will not be considered. Please include contact information for yourself and for the client.


* From the "Now They Know How It Feels" Dept. The work of about 270 staffers and freelancers is going into The New York Times "Practical Guide to Practically Everything," scheduled for release in October. According to an article in Editor & Publisher, the 812-page book includes "more than a thousand entries and purports to provide guidance on everything from buying furniture to overcoming erectile dysfunction." Apparently some of the staffers are miffed about not getting additional pay for the reuse of their work.

* If you use the "Creative Fee plus Usage Rights" licensing model, be careful when dealing with travel days. In the old days, photographers would charge a percentage of their day rate for travel days. Don't use the term "Day Rate" at all. Just call it a travel day fee.


Editor & Publisher New York Times Story (Requires E&P subscription.)

NPPA Independent Photographers Toolkit

Advertising Photographers of America Resource page

Common Cents Column On The Cost of Doing Business

Editorial Photographers Cost of Doing Business Calculator

Editorial Photographers Yahoo! Group

Small Business Administration

NPPA Online Discussion Group Instructions

© Mark Loundy

Mark Loundy is a visual journalist, writer and media consultant based in San Jose, California.