EFJ Issues Photographer “Guidelines” to Fight Restrictions on Photojournalists

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European regional organisation of the International Federation of Journalists, today announced its new guidelines adopted to insure that photojournalists have the right to make their own editorial decisions when covering news or major events.

“We adopted these guidelines so that photojournalists across Europe have a single fair and ethical standard that lets them work freely and independently without control by their subjects or any other outside influence,” said EFJ Chair Arne König.

In response to the increasing restrictions being imposed on professional photojournalists in their coverage of major artistic, cultural, political and sporting events, the EFJ has come up with its own guidelines to fight the pressure on photographers and others to sign unfair contracts, notably depriving them of control of their own photos.

During its General Meeting which took place in Zagreb on 24-25 March 2007, the EFJ adopted “Guidelines for Photographers’ Accreditation to Major Events”. In these guidelines, journalists are urged to refuse to work if limitations to their movements are imposed for reasons other than clear safety or organizational concerns.

The guidelines say that access to major events should be open to any holder of a recognised professional press card or press accreditation who is working for regular media or under commission from them. Journalist should be free to take pictures whenever they want and how they want, only limited by the principles of ethical journalism.

The guidelines also call on journalists and photographers to refuse to sign any contract which deprives them of their ownership rights over their work or any contract which forces them to submit their pictures for prior authorisation before broadcast or publication in any form.

The full text of the Guidelines for Photographers’ Accreditation to Major Events is available here for download (PDF).

The EFJ has supported numerous news photograph boycott of performance events where artists’ management attempted to grab control of journalists’ works.

Norwegian journalists unions and media associations recently issued a common statement calling on Norwegian organisers to make it clear to foreign actors and organisers that the Norwegian media does not accept restrictions on the media's work during events in Norway. This statement was issued when photojournalists held a complete media boycott of Dolly Parton’s concert in Oslo on 15 March after the American singer’s management presented photographers with unacceptable photo contracts.

“This is a great example of how the guidelines can be used by both journalists and media owners to insure that all events are covered in a professional and independent manner that provides real news value to the public,” König said.

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