Freelance sports photographers who have been on contract with Reuters in North America have been receiving some unpleasant calls over the past couple of days. Apparently, due to a new deal between Thomson Reuters and USA Today Sports Images, they are being systematically informed that their photographic services are no longer needed.
According to the National Press Photographers Association, starting on September 15th, all of Reuters sports images for North America will come directly from USA Today Sports Images, making it unnecessary for the company to continue hiring out their own photographers to cover professional and college sports.
Although not even Reuters clients have been told — instead, they’re finding out through the grapevine and confirming with the photographers they have worked with for years — a source within Sports Illustrated’s photography department confirmed the news for the NPPA, and offered a little bit of insight.
According to this source, all Reuters sports photographers who work primarily in North America will now be assigned to new, non-sports beats. They will, however, still be able to cover sports outside of North America.
When he heard the news, Toronto freelancer and Reuters photographer Jon Blacker got in touch with Reuters’ North American Sports Photo Editor, Peter Jones, to confirm. “He said it was purely a business decision,” Blacker told the NPPA. “And that their business plan calls for using the money that Reuters saves on covering sports to re-invest in photo covering more news.”
By Blacker’s estimation, between 30 and 50 photographers are on that call list and will be affected by this decision.