Local Events, Local Papers?

I’m not sure if any of my local papers (5 titles, four of them free come through my door each week, several on a fairly direct route to the recycling bin) bothered to send a photographer to our local Remembrance Day parade and service. I did see one other photographer there, although I think he only took a couple of pictures – but that could have been what the paper wanted.

Remembrance Day in Staines

Or perhaps the local paper photographers were among the many people using phones and compact digitals to take pictures – particularly of the brownies and scouts in the parade? Doubtless I’ll find out on Thursday when the several hundred pages of advertising accompanied by a few snippets of news comes through the letterbox (or the following week – as two of them simply recycle stuff from the one we still pay for, in the hope it will one day have some news.)

Twenty years ago,¬† we used to tell our keener photography students it was worth getting in touch with the local papers, taking a few pictures along and asking if they could cover an occasional story. It got them a little pocket money, and one or two eventually ended up with full time jobs, or even in Fleet Street. (Now of course a memory, though the few times I’ve dropped into the old pubs there in recent years I’ve ended up talking to guys from the print, revisiting their pasts.)

Now, forget it.

PR shots, handouts and free snaps from people and organisations who want publicity provide 90% of the photos, with the rest coming from a few remaining poorly paid and overworked staff.

So if anyone in Staines wants to see pictures from the Remembrance Day parade and service – and it was a well attended event – they can look on My London Diary.¬† I went there to photograph it because I wanted to take some pictures to mark the occasion, but didn’t want to cover the national event in Whitehall – too much security, too little access. I could have gone to any of the hundreds of other such events around the country rather than Staines, but that’s where I live.

Peter Marshall 

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