Thousands Of Photojournalists Forced To Shoot In JPEG
If you’re a photojournalist and want to submit images to the International News Agency Reuters you must shoot in JPEG now. Just this week Reuters announced and, has placed a ban on any photo that was processed from a RAW image file.
This announcement went out via email to freelancers.
I’d like to pass on a note of request to our freelance contributors due to a worldwide policy change.. In future, please don’t send photos to Reuters that were processed from RAW or CR2 files. If you want to shoot raw images that’s fine, just take JPEGs at the same time. Only send us the photos that were originally JPEGs, with minimal processing (cropping, correcting levels, etc).
A Reuters spokesperson has confirmed this policy change with PetaPixel, and says that the decision was made to increase both ethics and speed.
“As photojournalists working for the world’s largest international multimedia news provider, Reuters Pictures photographers work in line with our Photographer’s Handbook and the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles,” Reuters says.
Reuters it would seem believes that images that have been processed from RAW files are more likely to be altered beyond just color and exposure adjustments. This move is to try to prevent image tampering and make sure the images it uses do in fact reflect reality.
They are saying that shooting in JPEG will also make the process of receiving breaking news faster since a photographer won’t have the need to post edit.
It’s important to point out that Reuters doesn’t ban any photographers from shooting RAW files entirely. This gives photojournalists free reign to shoot both RAW and JPEG at the same time – one file for sending off and one for archival purposes.
This specific detail could also become a loophole of sorts. Both Canon and Nikon cameras are capable of processing RAW photos into JPEGs in-camera. Combine this process with custom-made profiles, and photojournalists could very easily shoot RAW photos, then choose from one of the pre-defined profiles to give it a certain aesthetic – a process analogous to choosing a film stock.
Considering this would all be done in-camera, and the result would be a JPEG file, it technically wouldn’t violate Reuters’ new policy, so long as the custom profile doesn’t violate the ‘minimal processing’ rule.
Sound like a lot of photographers are going to be forced to improve their in camera shooting skills.
One of our readers who is Abe Van Dyke, owner and photographer at VDC Photo is a photojournalist. He posted a comment to our Facebook page and had this to say on his blog.
Covering an event
What does this mean to the average photojournalist? Not a lot really.
For many years photojournalists have already been shooting in both JPEG and RAW at the same time while on assignment for various organization. This helps speed up delivery to an editor by just needing to keyword, caption and slightly tweak the JPEG photos.
Let’s take a look at my workflow for a moment.
- Photograph the subject
- Get to a computer with internet as fast as possible or hand off the memory card to a runner
- Minor adjustments to the image in Lightroom
- Caption and keyword final photos in Photo Mechanic
- Send the files via FTP to whatever organization I’m working for that day. Alternatively at large events, depending on the size of an organization, a photographer may not even see the photos before an editor gets them and posts them for the world to see.
A dying industry
Back in 2013, the Chicago Sun-Times laid off all of their photographers. This was a shock to the industry considering 28 people just lost their jobs including a Pulitzer Prize Winning photojournalist.
As you can see in the statement given by the Sun-Times, the need for video and to “evolve with out digitally savvy customers” are a few of the reasons cited for the layoffs.
This isn’t the first time photographers have been offered buyout packages or have simply been laid off. For years budgets have been getting tighter and the staff sizes have been shrinking. I’ve watched a lot of my predecessors either be laid off or given buyouts from their staff position.
As mentioned earlier, I truly do believe that the mission of a photojournalist is to accurately inform the public about current events.
In order to do this we must edit carefully. By this I mean that in general the only things done to an image is changing the exposure, contrast, white balance and cropping. Not a lot else is done to preserve the integrity of the image.
Some people however will step over the line and edit their images to no longer show the truth. Take for example “Reutersgate” which coincidently is the same organization that is changing their policies and responsible for inspiring this post. Back in 2006 a photojournalist named Adnan Hajj was covering the Israel-Lebanon conflict and he deliberately altered images he took and sent to Reuters. In this case the manipulation was quite extreme.
More recently you have issues with the validity and editing of images sent in to the World Press Photo competition.
In fact there was a heated debate surrounding 2012 photo of the year. Here is a photo used in a PetaPixel article which reported on the controversy.
The top image was submitted for the World Press Photo competition and was heavily manipulated. The bottom image however was what was initially published by the photographer.
Clearly the highly edited image looks to be highly edited. To me it has a cinematic feel with the purpose of increasing the level of drama in the scene. Photos like this increase the distrust in the mainstream media and even alternative media sources.
The photo is truly emotionally moving, but the amount of editing used for the competition is beyond what any photojournalist publishes on a daily basis. In fact, World Press Photo responded to the controversy by altering their post processing rules for the competition.