Johnston Press publishes more than 200 newspapers and magazines, including The Yorkshire Post and The Scotsman.

‘The company intends to replace the work of professional photographers with pictures garnered from social media and sent in by readers,’ says the NUJ.

The NUJ’s deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick adds: ‘This decision by the company represents a wanton disposal of the local knowledge and skills of staff photographers working in England and Scotland.

‘The notion that these roles can be replaced by social media and multi-skilling reporters is a fallacy.

‘Quality content is defined by the quality of pictures and captions of images used, which only professional photographers provide.

‘This spells the death knell for the staff photographer.’

Earlier this year, photographers reacted angrily to the apparent axing of the entire full-time photography team – including a Pulitzer Prize winner – at a major US newspaper.

The Chicago Sun-Times and its sister publications were reported to have laid off 28 photography staff in a move blamed on increased demand among readers for online video – captured, not by photographers, but by reporters.

And the news comes as French newspaper Libération publishes an
edition without photos in a bid to show the importance of photography,
according to a report from the Paris Photo show by the British Journal of Photography.

Johnston Press had urged photographers to leave as part of a voluntary redundancy scheme, according to the NUJ.

The firm this evening told Amateur Photographer it could not confirm the number of staff involved as consultation was ‘ongoing’.

In a statement, the company said that a number of photographic roles have been placed ‘at risk’ and that bosses were making ‘difficult decisions to help ensure a sustainable, multi-platform future for local journalism’.

The publisher added: ‘The decision has been made at local, operating company level and the proposal to change the way photographic content is generated affects some areas of the Midlands and Scotland.’

The NUJ adds: ‘The union is also concerned that already hard-pressed reporters will be made to take photographs.’