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|| News Item: Posted 1999-06-10

Human Billboards
By Tim Clayton, Sydney Morning Herald

I have a query for you regarding bib advertising after we had an incident at a rugby union match in Sydney at the weekend....before the start of the New South Wales V Queensland game we were issued with photographers bibs which, as well as having the number on, had a huge advertising slogan on the back promoting a product.

The photographers at the ground, including myself, firstly refused to wear them, and then turned them inside out. We were told if we didn't wear them properly we would be thrown out of the ground. We called for Rugby Union officials to come and sort out the problem and the media liaison officer arrived before things got out of hand. We argued that we were professional sports photographers, not human billboards, we found it insulting and degrading to be asked to wear them and we pointed out that no other profession is instructed to 'advertise' a certain product in order to carry out their work.

The official relented on the evening and allowed us to work without having to wear the bibs. The Media union was notified on Monday and is pursuing the matter from both a legal point of view and an ethical point of view.

We sports shooters in Australia would like to know how things are over in the US in regards to this issue? Have you fought this issue? Do you just accept its part of the job and what the heck?

The general feeling here is we should fight, as there seems to be a deterioration of relationships between photographers, sporting organizations and particularly ground staff who seem to want to throw you out of an event if you sneeze within 10 feet of an advertising hoarding! We have had great freedom here for the past decade and perhaps the Olympics has brought with it a tightening of regulations. But I just hate the fact that we seem to be treated like were the 'scum of the earth' by buff head officials and we don't want our standing to decline any further.

Your thoughts on this matter would be most welcome and I would be quite happy if other sports photographers could receive this e mail and reply with their thoughts and opinions. Are we flogging a dead horse or do we fight?

Great shooting to you all!

Tim Clayton
Sydney Morning Herald Sports Photographer

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