Reporters at Archant London are being asked to record the sources of their photographs and leads on target sheets after staff photographers were cut from four to one across six titles last week.
From this week, reporters must state whether pictures were taken by a professional photographer, themselves, or have been sourced from the public or social media on their weekly “key performance indicators”.
The photos are to be graded A, B or C alongside the stories they accompanied in an addition to the existing demand for reporters to note the number of articles they write each week.
An A picture is one taken by a professional staff photographer or freelance with their use restricted to “splash, show pages and spreads, partnerships, key community events, important breaking news, VIP visits, quirky specialist pics” according to an email sent to staff.
The B “rating” means the reporter has taken it themselves and a C rating means that is has either been sent in, taken from social media or a news wire.
Reporters must also record where their lead story came from, stating whether it was from a press release, a “self-generated lead” or if it has come through an “incoming phone call”.
Press Gazette understands the new initiative is an attempt to see how many photos are taken by journalists, who are equipped with iPhones.
“It’s hassle enough this job,” one source said. “It isn’t as if they have said ‘we are doing this because’ – they have just said we are doing it.
“My fear is that they are just looking for who does the most and eventually, when it comes to further cuts, they will be able to justify making some of us go freelance or getting rid of us.”
On Thursday, three staff photographers at Archant’s east London office were made redundant. One staffer remains, covering six titles including the Romford Recorder.
Chief content officer Matt Kelly told staff earlier this year that the cuts were a response to the “changes of behaviour” of readers following the digital technology boom.
He said: “We believe it’s essential that our business responds to those changes of behaviour if we are to be as relevant as possible in our communities.”
In February, Press Gazette reported that dozens of Local World group photographers were set to lose their jobs as titles shifted towards relying on reader photos and reporters taking pictures on their phones.
Archant has been contacted for comment.