Future of photographers debated at skills conference

There is a future for good photography in newspapers - but that may not mean there should be specialist training courses for photographers, Derby Telegraph and Burton Mail editor-in-chief Neil White told the NCTJ Journalism Skills Conference.

"Media organisations have not always preserved photographers because they have not always shown they are essential," Neil, a member of the NCTJ board, said during a debate on the future of photojournalism at the conference at the University of Sheffield.

Editors still valued specialist photographers for their work on areas such as the biggest news stories and football, but Neil said the future for specialist photography training was uncertain, in the same way that it was for specialist print journalism courses.

Sheffield College decided earlier this year to shelve its NCTJ accredited photography and photojournalism course because it failed to attract enough applicants. The course was the last of its kind running in the country.

The course leader, Jane Parr, asked whether the quality of published photographs could be sustained when one journalist was expected to take still pictures, shoot video and write the story. She said the college still believed in the importance of good training for photographers.

David Burner, of Caters news agency, said quality remained important but pointed out that the public now had the opportunity to take pictures that were not available to the professional. "Photographers are penned into a certain area for walkabout, whereas the Queen will walk down a line of people doing selfies," he said.

Paul Kerleys, a BBC online producer, said every journalist needed to be able to deliver an acceptable picture, with online making huge use of still mages.