On Friday, calls started rolling out to all North American Freelance Sports Photographers on contract with Reuters informing them that their sideline services would no longer be needed. As of September 15th, those 30-50 photographers will be reassigned to non-sports circuits. The original contracted freelancers covered sports such as National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, and National Basketball Association games. Although they are moving out all of the North American events, the photographers will still be allowed to shoot events outside of North America.
A source inside the Sports Illustrated photography department in New York stated "The photographers I've been working with will no longer be providing that content." Reuters clients have not officially been told of the change but word is starting to travel that a new contract has been put into agreement. Clients are contacting their individual photographers to find out more information.
The decision to move away from the contracted freelancers came after Thomson Reuters entered into a new agreement with USA Today Sports Images. The new photographers of the events will be displaying a 'live feed' of their photographs they are taking. As far as how USATSI plans to accomplish this has not been explained.
Bruce Odle, who headed the company and managed their sale to Gannett in 2011, also has Bob Rosato by his side who was the company's founder and current chief operating officer. Rosato has worked for NFL media departments as well as previously being a Sports Illustrated photographer. Gannett currently holds 82 daily papers with combined circulation of 5.3 million and 23 television stations reaching 21 million households. According to USATSI they claim they "meet the challenges of modern sports journalism head-on with a team of professional photographers and editors who deliver comprehensive, to-the-minute coverage of sporting events around the globe." Gannett currently pays Thomson Reuters large annual fees for providing news and financial content to Gannett publications. As stated in their stock on July 22, 2013, Gannett was seeing a decline in their newspaper ads. So speculation could state that in order to increase their revenue they jumped at the current opportunity for the new event coverage.
We will keep you abreast of any further developments.