By: Dorothy Ho
(Photo District News) More than 450 photographers have signed a letter protesting the cut in transmission fees started by The New York Times earlier this month. The letter, penned by the president of Editorial Photographers, Seth Resnick, was supported by Times contributors based in more than 20 countries and from all over the United States.
The letter, addressed to Picture Editor Margaret O’Connor, was also sent to Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., editors at the newspaper, and a host of media watchers.
“This is not a boycott. That’s not the purpose here, but we want to point out to them how wrong they are,” Resnick said. “At least we get people talking about it. Maybe it’s just a matter of reinstating the policy of paying fees for putting things together digitally. In the long term, we can address day rates or paying for rights. You don’t solve all the issues at one time.”
In early February, the newspaper had sent letters to photographers informing them of the $100 cut, explaining that the “payments no longer serve their original purpose since digital transmission is now both cost effective and commonplace.” The day rate for freelancers remained unchanged at $200.
Many photographers were upset with the cut because the costs for going digital are high. Resnick said he was impressed by the speed of response from photographers and the number of top names who signed the letter. They included David Burnett, Peter Charlesworth, Gary Fabiano, Stuart Isett, and Frederic Neema. In the letter, the photographers call for a discussion on the issues. “We all look forward to better times, but we also need to be able to not lose money in pursuit of our business. … We feel that we must proactively seek what we believe are changes essential to the continued survival of our profession.”
Citing Businessweek and Forbes changes in photography day rates, Resnick added: “[Change] cannot happen unless people participate.”
To read a full transcript of the letter or to find out more, visit www.editorialphotographers.com.