We are fond of saying that “Mr. Getty” and “Ms. Corbis” are the world’s most prolific photographers. After all they seem to be in hundreds of places at the same time taking newsworthy pictures and taking credit for them. Agencies are loath to post the names of actual photographers and give them credit for various business reasons which we have discussed in the past. One such business reason is so that potential clients will be unable to identify particular shooters and will, of necessity, approach Corbis, Getty, AP, AFP and so on to obtain a license to use a given image. In the past, photographers charged less for editorial shots because they made much more in relicensing the images. Now that money stream has been constricted or eliminated because of this no photographer credit policy. What photographers are left with is an effective lower pay.
The tabloid NY Daily News is ranked in the top seven of all US daily papers in terms of circulation. It is reliably reported that its daily print circulation is between 500,000 – 600,000 (substantially more on Sundays) placing it in the top seven of all US daily papers. These figures exclude on line viewings whether by subscription or otherwise. These stats do not take into account the ad revenues generated by this paper whose circulation is based in the lucrative NY metropolitan market but is sold nationwide.
In today’s News the top stories include photos of: the Hamas public execution of a suspected informant in the Gaza Strip, a 276 million dollar insider trading bust, an arrest of a suspected serial killer who has logged three known victims, the sex scandal involving the “voice of Elmo” from Sesame Street, the push to make birth control pills available without a doctor’s prescription and a particularly grisly story about a NYC police officer with an apparent appetite to ingest female human meat.
The common denominator of these lead stories? Not a single photo is credited or attributed to any photographer in any of the photos. This is especially ironic in that the News was known for well over 50 years as “NY’s Picture Newspaper”. It sought and attracted an audience of immigrants many of whom had limited English language skills. The phrase appeared under the title on page one for decades. Its gone now. Replaced by the phrase, “NY’s Hometown Newspaper”. The irony remains in that the masthead still incorporates the image of an old-fashioned press camera circa the 1930’s, in order to remind its readers of its great tradition of news photography at the paper. The names of the men and women who create/created the images somehow are no longer entitled to any billing – this in a day when the even caterers, accountants and lawyers who worked on a movie get screen credits from Scorcese, Spielberg and Lucas and their lesser known brethren. Like the immigrants of yore, photographers today are becoming the great unwashed and uncredited masses.