The French Newspaper Libération’s 14 November issue ran without pictures. Instead of harrowing images of the typhoon ravaged landscape of the Philippines or war torn Syria or even pretty pictures of baby animals doing cute things, there were empty white boxes. The story can be seen on the BJP-online site at http://tiny.cc/jh8k6w. I think it demonstrates firstly the power pictures play in the news telling process, but more importantly, what our French cousins think about photographers. Would the British media industry do such a thing? I very much doubt it. They seem more concerned about drumming photographers out of business as they chase cheaper and cheaper rates.

The UK media has pinned content (words and pictures) to advertising revenues. When the ad revenues fall, so do the rates they pay for content. A shrewd business plan you would think, except it fails one critical point. If you pay peanuts for content you will drive the creativity and heart out of the contributors and before long you end up with bland camerphone style images which then drives away your customers.The UK media industry needs to acknowledge, the readers are the customers as well as the advertisers.

Why hold your readers in such low regard? It’s a point that has always baffled me. The BJP (British Journal of Photography) actually made a bold move a few years ago and instead of racing to the bottom as many others did, it took about three steps up and is a much better and more respected publication because of it.

With a market flooded with photography, you’d think the British magazine and newspaper sectors could command global respect, but very few do. The reason is they care little for the content and more about the Ad revenues. It’s a decision I believe will leave them behind the curve. The electronics sector which creates new technology is deciding the direction the media industry has to go on a global scale. Pro cameras these days do both still and video, many people carry tablet readers and it will not be too long before many of the world’s great cities will offer wireless access everywhere, so you can sit in the park and read your favourite newspaper or magazine online live. You’ll be able to see a stunning high definition picture on screen and be able to tap it and watch a video clip to enhance the story. This is the way technology is pushing us, whether we like it or not. Will the UK media industry be able to keep up? I have to say I doubt it in many cases. They simply do not pay enough for contributors to keep up with the latest technology. In many cases it falls to hobbyists with well paying corporate jobs and an desire to see their work published no matter what the cost.

The UK media industry will price the most creative and talented people out of the market and then wonder why no one is reading their produce.

I think this is a crying shame, but one that is inevitable I feel. I wonder how many publishers will take note of what Libération did and think about the future rather than firefight today?