Reuters officially dropped all of their North American freelance sports photographers over the weekend. That is 30-50 photographers that no longer have sports contracts with the company, many of which are expected to be moved to other non-sports circuits. The move is the result of a deal between USA Today Sports Images and Reuters that makes USA Today the only source of images for Reuters.
This is interesting news because it’s not like Reuters is going out and giving their writers iPhones, but are instead replacing their contracted freelancers with another company specializing in sports photography. In addition to that, according to the report over on Fstoppers, the photographers in question here are being given the opportunity to be reassigned to other non-sports circuits of Reuters photography department.
In other words, they are closing down their sports photography department and are moving the people who work in it to other photography departments. In all this is only big news, in my opinion, because these photographers were the guys covering the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL. These were big fish sports photographers who were paid to be at important games. I’m not sure how many of them are going to be too thrilled about being asked to shoot political rallies, or other more mainstream, news worthy events.
An interesting thing is that this is not the only USA Today Sports Images news that I have come across recently. They also recently gobbled up a deal with MLS (Major League Soccer) to be the official and preferred photo provider for all MLS clubs. MLS may not be the NBA or NFL, but that is still quite a big pickup for USA Today Sports Images. Seems to me they are looking to position themselves as one of, if not ‘the’ premiere professional sports photography outlet in North America.
Given this news about the Reuters sports photographers, it looks as if they are one step closer.
What are your thoughts on this? Is this a bad omen for the Sports Photography industry, or is this just a case of the field evolving with the times? Let us know in a comment below.