Friday, July 27, 2007

US Presswire - Introduction

For several months now, I've been hearing about US Presswire, how bad they were for photographers, and how, as the Wireimage sports coverage was being absorbed (or dissolved) into Getty Images Sport, clients were looking for "anything other than the AP" said one person familiar with why you are even seeing USPW credit lines.

I listened a lot to folks complaining about USPW, and their business practices, from not being paid anything at all, to covering all their own expenses, to not being paid when they saw their work getting play, and so on. No photographers I spoke with were happy about their USPW experience, but a few can be found defending them on Sportsshooter. So, I called Bob Rosato. Over the course of two phone calls spanning over two hours, we covered a lot of ground, and certain issues I was able to resolve by listening to what he had to say. We agreed on many many points - especially about the state of the industry, and a point that Bob made was "This thing was not created so shareholders would profit, it was created so photographers had a platform to get their work out", and we discussed where things were headed. There remained, however, sharp disagreements between he and I about how to handle this evolving industry.

Over the past month, I've been working on collecting information, insights, and so forth, and there hasn't been a lot of positive commentary that's come of it. Covering the World Series last year, and the All-Star games these past two years, I've seen the US Presswire folks in action, and they trend towards being younger, inexperienced photographers, which, on the surface isn't so bad, except that they just don't realize the circumstances that gave someone with that little experience such a grand opportunity. If it was such a great opportunity, why weren't those assignments being covered by seasoned pros? The short answer is - they weren't assignments, they were "we'll get you a credential, and you'll only get paid if we sell a photo..." type of deals. Anyone with any reasoned thinking would run the other way, because they would realize what a disadvantaged position they are in. A number of seasoned pros that Rosato approached either declined, or initially accepted the opportunity, and within a short period of time, parted ways.

What follows are several pieces, broken down for ease of reading.

US Presswire - Introduction
US Presswire - A Conflict of Interest
US Presswire - Friends Don't Screw Friends
US Presswire - Contract Analysis
US Presswire - The Client's Perspective
US Presswire - The Freelancers Perspective
US Presswire - Closing Thoughts

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amazing how the best of intentions can fall prey to the worst of the business.

Their business model seems pretty simple:

1. Don't pay your photographers.
2. Undercut the competition on the price of images, which you can afford to do since you don't pay your photographers
3. Collect your fees (assuming you're charging them in the first place)
4. Refer to #1.

Have I missed anything?

Anonymous said...

I know two photographers off the top of my head who have worked for Presswire and have never been paid and yet continue to work for Bob.

Their images appeared in magazines and the web with zero compensation.

Thanks John for shining the light on Presswire.

Anonymous said...

Would this be considered Business 101 or General Business or Advanced Business? Looks like this should go under rants for sure :)

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