By Mark Loundy
Every success is built on the ability to do better than good enough.
— Author Unknown
When is enough enough? A lot of heat has been generated during the past couple of years about whether the NPPA has done enough to support its freelance members. Everything from accusations of the organization being "in bed" with publishers to suggestions that the NPPA should become a formal union have crisscrossed through cyberspace.
What the NPPA has done is on the record: They've amended their bylaws to permit commentary on, and educational programs about, business and labor issues. They've re-formed the Business Practices Committee. They've offered a number of business sessions at their various educational programs including the national convention, the Northern Short Course and Flying Short Course, among others.
But is it enough? Publishers continue to squeeze freelancers by demanding broad rights or Work For Hire agreements in exchange for rates that have not increased in decades or are actually decreasing. Schools continue to churn out graduates who are well-versed in technical and ethical matters but are lambs led to slaughter by one-sided contracts.
The times demand strong leadership and groups such as the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Editorial Photographers and others strain to fill the vacuum. But the preeminent organization of photojournalists has uttered scarcely a whisper. Not nearly enough.
What should the NPPA do? Use the amended bylaws and condemn in the strongest and clearest terms one-sided, rights-grabbing business dealings.
Raise the priority and resources of the Business Practices Committee to address business issues as if the existence of the industry were at stake. Because it is.
Work with schools to create an effective and streetwise business practices curriculum.
Establish minimum contract standards that will allow independent photographers to achieve profitability. Publish a list of publications that meet those minimums.
Will that be enough? Perhaps not. But it'll be a good start.