Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Media boycotts Australian cricket

Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

Crickets fry in a skillet during Free Family Arts Day at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007.

Major media outlets including Associated Press (AP), Reuters, Agence France-Press (AFP) and many Australian newspapers are joining forces to boycott a cricket Test match between Australia and Sri Lanka. Cricket Australia (CA) is attempting to manage rights and demand payment for media access credentials.

For once, the organizations are doing this the right way. They won't cover any press conferences or any other organization-staged events. Appropriately, the history books won't include this event.

This is quite possibly the single worst attempt at a rights grab I've seen. Not only does this organization want to be paid for images shot by various media professionals, they want to claim intellectual property rights. I suppose they'd also like the managing editors to carry their babies, but they can't figure out how to legally word it yet.

If the CA holds a press conference in the woods ... who cares?

Cricket means as much to Americans as the Super Bowl means folks in Tajikistan, but both are important to some sports fans. With this said, it's basically meaningless to cover either event without use.

There won't be any less newspapers sold. There might be a few less clicks on news sites, but the entire news industry isn't going to collapse because we didn't cover a freaking cricket match.

If anything, those same shooters can put their talent and skill to work with fine local atheletes, who don't typically get enough page space. The latter could sell one additional paper and generate a few clicks as well.

Although it's not discussed often (if ever), at the heart of this mess is the core mission of this job. PJs and sports shooters get in this low-paying biz to have our work seen by others. If we must PAY to have our work stolen by a sports management company, it's not worth it.

PJs make images because we love the work itself. If others are greedy enough to want to steal our labor and limit where and when we can display our work, it's nothing I want to shoot. There's plenty of other stories that need my attention.

There is no acceptable access contract. We don't need managed sports or entertainment to make images. We make the images.

If self-serving, greedy people would stop trying to limit who sees the images we make, it would be a much better world.

Enough for now,


Viswanathan said...

"Appropriately, the history books won't include this event."

How is that possible?

Are you implying that no one will know that such a cricket match took place?

BTW, television channels are covering this match live.

They are paying a huge sum of royalty to Cricket Australia to capture and transmit this match.

I believe magazines pay a huge amount of money for exclusive coverage of celeberities marriage, child birth etc.,

Why did'nt you raise your voice then?

Mark M. Hancock said...

History books contain images largely made by PJs. Since the only images captured will be owned by CA, it's unlikely textbook publishers would be willing to pay CA's fees. Therefore, it won't happen.
Furthermore, due to CA's limitations, images won't win any awards - no matter how good they are - because all contest rules require the contestants to have authorization to republish.
TV isn't the same as still images. TV records at 30 or 24 FPS. Still images are recorded at speeds up to 1/8000th of a second. TV depth of field (caused by previous) is an additional hindrance.
Newspapers don't pay other organizations to use images shot by their staff. They already paid hundreds of dollars (salary, insurance, equipment, flights, hotels, car rentals, meals, etc.). Legitimate news magazines are the same.
I can't - nor would I ever be willing to - defend the ethical practices of pop magazines.
If you look toward Teen Beat and others as your ethical guiding light, then something is dreadfully wrong.

Matthew said...

The other difference between television (or radio) coverage of the match and newspaper/magazine coverage is that one is broadcasting the match where the other is reporting on the event. The former is an entertainment product, something people enjoy in the moment while they are watching (whether live or tape delayed). The latter is a news report, summarizing for the record what transpired in the match.

Viswanathan said...

Mike and Mathew,

I agree with you both.

The point I was trying to rise was photography in itself is a recent phenonmenon.

As such history as we say it has existed well before its advent.

In this case, Mikes assumption that this match will not be recorded in History is wrong per se.

There are other medias doing the same.

Matthew said...

First of all, the development of photography pretty much coincides with the development of organized sport. Indeed, sport did exist before the late 1800's, but it is very difficult to find anything more than anecdotal reports of any specific games.

Undoubtedly, future listings of all the test matches in Australia will list this year's events, and the statistics will be included in the players' career totals and so forth. But this match will be the one with hardly any pictures. If somebody achieves some spectacular milestone during the match there won't be any quality visuals to show it, and 25 years down the road this match will seem less important than the one before or after. I think that's the point Mark is making.

The point I was trying to illustrate is the difference between broadcasting a sporting event and reporting on it.

In the case of television (or radio), the organizers of the match are essentially producing content for the television stations, which will make money by reproducing the entertainment experience in a different form. The tv photographers aren't being photojournalists, just photographers. The CA deserves to be compensated for game broadcasts just as the writers of a sitcom or, ahem, the news.

On the other hand, still photographers working for newspapers are at the match primarily as photojournalists. Their main goal at the match is to capture images that summarize the game. The idea is to document the event for posterity, not to recreate the match. The CA's demand to ownership of this content is preposterous.

As for the magazines that pay for exclusive coverage of celebrities personal lives, again, that's entertainment, not news.