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"Publishers need better photography to stay relevant"
Jim Colburn, Photographer
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 6:45 PM on 04.13.13
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Frank Niemeir, Photographer
Woodstock | GA | usa | Posted: 9:25 PM on 04.13.13
->> I saw that post earlier and passed it along to some friends. I'm amazed at how many traditional publishers just don't get it that a good photo has a better chance of drawing the reader into the story. And I'm amazed at how many newspapers have got rid of their director of photography positions. Traditional publishers just don't quite get how to publish photos on this internet thing, either.
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Wesley Hitt, Photographer
Fayetteville | AR | USA | Posted: 7:33 AM on 04.14.13
->> It has been interesting to me to watch the newspapers and magazines that are struggling in todays market cut back on their product. When money gets tight, they cut photography and stories. Are these not the only reasons people buy their product? Name me another industry that cuts back on how much and the quality of their product and still expect to grow in the future. Consumers become disinterested becomes magazines and newspapers have made their product less interesting.
As a photographer, if I came out and said that I was going to charge more, buy the cheapest equipment I can buy to do the job and hire the cheapest help I can, would anyone do business with me?????
One last thought since I have been in advertising photography for 30 years, did Apple, Ford, ESPN, etc etc, get to where they are by looking for the cheapest? Did Steve Jobs sit at his desk and think, if we cut the content and value of our product we will grow and succeed in todays market?
I do not get it. Magazines and newspapers should be driving force behind better photography and writing. They should be demanding more and paying more.

Just thoughts.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 9:32 AM on 04.14.13
->> well, come on fellas. everyone KNOWS newspaper corporations have more important things to spend money on than content....
take for example our company...
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Atlanta | Ga | USA | Posted: 9:48 AM on 04.14.13
->> but that's not how a lot of publishers think. it depends on what side of the business they came up on. most have advertising backgrounds, so many believe editorial people are the only ones who add no direct revenue to the coffers. Editorial staff costs them money, period. so edit staff are the first to go when the blade falls. many publishers feel if the public sends them a photo that can be used for free, that's a good thing for the bottom line.

I noticed a lot of operations cutting back copy editing staff more than anything. What a dangerous move that is. A good copy editor is worth their weight in gold and can keep an operation out of court. I'm not saying photographers are not important, because we all know they are. But there are a lot of faucets to a newspaper they have reduced the staff and has hurt the overall aspect of each one so dramatically, that together, the effects have been devastating.

Look at your newspaper operation as it is today. How many ad staffers are there compared to news people? there are typically at least double the number, most of which work on commission. so if they don't sell, they don't get paid. the publisher gets a higher return on his or her investment.

a publisher that came up on the editorial side does see things differently. they know the value of a good editorial staff. they know what it takes to get content, pounding the pavement, flushing out stories, good leads and sources, solid, and inteesting photography. but often they are not considered as good as business people as those coming up on the ad side, so companies tend to advance ad people over editorial. again, there are exceptions to everything, especially when dealing with money.
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Atlanta | Ga | USA | Posted: 9:52 AM on 04.14.13
->> Wow, 164k in moving expenses. I got $500 on my last move and thought i was doing good.
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Victor Biro, Photographer
Toronto | ON | Canada | Posted: 2:25 PM on 04.14.13
->> At the risk of yelling into an echo chamber, and along the same lines as Wesley, why is it that when any other industry seeks to redefine their place in the market one of the first things they do is examine what they do well and differently from their competition.

In the case of car companies, what differentiates them from each other can be price, or perceived value. However underlying this is always some form of perceived product quality. Value is only a reflection of getting more for less.

It seems that media organisations are one-sided in their self-appraisal: How can we gain or maintain revenue to preserve profitability. To do this they seem to only reinterpret their existing business (circulation = more advertising = more revenue). When that doesn't work they look for ways to preserve profit by cutting costs.

I think they are missing the point: the people that are syphoning off 'their' revenue are doing it through new business models, not by using thinner versions of existing business models. This is not like K-Mart dieing because Walmart has a better value chain.

At the core of the news business, and the thing that differentiates outlets like The New York Times and The New York Post is the content not the advertising. As long as executives continue to be focused on $ they will miss what every organisation that has had to recognise: What do we do well and better than everyone else, and how do we make people want to continue buying that?

I can guarantee there is not s single newspaper that does such a significant job printing an advertisement on a piece of newsprint that it justifies it's existence or anyone buying that newspaper.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 3:34 PM on 04.14.13
->> WOW what a great thread - although I'm somewhat self serving when I say that - because I've said a lot of these same things in the past.

Whether it's photography or writing or editing, this much is clear: The potential client may not know why, or what, but they do know quality. If there's more quality in what a business offers and it hits the potential consumer's hot buttons - it stands a excellent chance of not just surviving but thriving.

It's hard for all of those freshly minted MBAs to understand what Victor is saying - and the reason is simple: They don't have enough experience and real world knowledge to understand that when they cut something that helps define quality (and therefore value) to a potential or existing client, they simply are killing themselves slowly. (Unless the strategy is to put yourself under and yes, that is most definitely a strategy sometimes)

This is not to say that a business shouldn't change. Gotta do that, but change is part of a business plan that, properly executed keeps management from getting executed. The problem is, it's hard work and it takes experience and knowledge and the ability to risk. It's sooooo muccchhhh easier to cut those high priced employees.

As for Jeff's contention that it depends on which side of the business the publisher came up on, my response is not necessarily. IF the bonus is tied to net profit, cutting newspaper positions as opposed to finding ways to grow the business is a lot easier.

Wesley, your example using Steve Jobs is the same one I would use, but since Steve died, people will say it doesn't work anymore. As long as Apple keeps innovating, it will work imho.

The other best example may be Warren Buffet. He's made a couple of dollars in his day. It's not be being in businesses that are the cheapest. He's been buying newspapers because he likes them, thinks they are undervalued, and can make some serious profit. It won't be because he cuts staffing to nothing - it's because he bought the properties from people who were using that business model.

Strong, compelling images that attract readers will still be a viable model for publications that "Get it." That will bring readers in and strong writing will keep the reader interested and wanting more. It's a simple strategy that is hard to do.

But as Tom Hanks said in "A League of Their Own", "the hard is what makes it great."
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Alan Look, Photographer
Bloomington/Normal | IL | United States | Posted: 5:16 PM on 04.14.13
->> I got a free new "magazine" in the mail the other day. Lots of great photos in the content which was 100% advertising.
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Thread Title: "Publishers need better photography to stay relevant"
Thread Started By: Jim Colburn
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