All photographers in our profession benefit from the work of NPPA’s Advocacy team. But our ability to do this is not conjured out of thin air. The commitment involves countless partnerships, NPPA’s staff and leadership and, of course, funding.
There are four primary ways our efforts are funded. All of this comes together to enable our ongoing work in the right to photograph and record in public, drone use for newsgathering, the creation of a copyright small claims tribunal, improving and protecting copyright laws and many other efforts on your behalf.
We have spent years building important partnerships and relationships that amplify the value of our work. As a result, while we sometimes draft amicus (friend of the court) briefs in important cases, we are often asked to show our support by signing on to amicus briefs that other organizations draft, saving us significant expense and presenting a united perspective on important issues.
While we monitor federal, state and local legislation, our friends and partners also consult with us on their concerns. These partnerships enable NPPA to form and join various coalitions on issues ranging from copyright to First Amendment to ethics. Whether we are joining the American Society of Media Photographers to speak out on a copyright issue, signing on to an amicus brief about First Amendment rights drafted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press or filing a lawsuit to block an unconstitutional law with the help of Public Justice, everyone benefits from NPPA’s participation.
For example, we lead a coalition of visual arts groups that meets weekly to advance mutual goals related to copyright and free speech. Speaking with one voice across segments of the photography profession and of the journalism community strengthens our collective position with the courts, government agencies and the general public.
Beyond our outside partners, NPPA volunteers and staff work diligently on your behalf. Your letters and calls to your representatives in support of the CASE Act — the copyright small claims bill that NPPA has been working to support for years — have opened doors and garnered widespread bipartisan support.
Recently, NPPA President Mike King spoke out on public trust in journalism. NPPA Treasurer Kyle Grantham arranged an important meeting with his senator on copyright small claims. Immediate Past President Melissa Lyttle spoke out during her tenure on a variety of issues, including ethics and sexual harassment. Executive Director Akili Ramsess, Editor Tom Burton and Professional Services Director Thomas Kenniff keep NPPA members informed of what we are doing. Our leadership and our members continuously bring important issues to our attention and help us work to address them.
If you are reading this column in News Photographer magazine, we thank you – your membership in NPPA is a huge part of what enables our work. Ten years ago, when NPPA first hired an attorney, NPPA dues alone covered those costs. That year the board, in the face of enormous financial pressure, made the brave decision to invest in something it felt was important.
A portion of your NPPA dues continues to fund our work, but your investment in NPPA is multiplied by the fact that we receive additional funding based specifically on the number of members we have, through the Authors Coalition, which collects overseas royalty payments that come from foreign government agencies. Those agencies collect a tax on photocopying and other uses of copyrighted work and have designated a portion of that tax to be distributed to U.S. organizations to do work that benefits photographers and other authors.
NPPA gets a portion of that money based on how many members we have. In this way, your membership brings in more than just your dues payment. The amount of money coming in from ACA royalties varies widely from year to year due to many factors beyond our control, including politics, policies of foreign governments and the value of the U.S. dollar. Because of this, the board is taking firm steps to diversify our funding sources.
In the past few years, we also began obtaining grants and donations from other sources. SDX, the foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), has provided grants to help us train police on journalists’ constitutional rights. We have received funding from TEGNA, the Knight Foundation and many individuals and law firms in appreciation of our advocacy efforts and expertise. Most recently, The Democracy Fund and First Look donated $10,000 each to the NPPA. These grants and corporate sponsors are due in large part to the trust and strong relationships we have built over the years with various partners in our mission to support the First Amendment.
Members and supporters have been donating directly to NPPA’s Advocacy fund as well through our sister organization, the National Press Photographers Foundation (NPPF). For the past few years our advocacy efforts have also been supported by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, but after NPPA issued a statement regarding the ethics of its on-air messaging, Sinclair rescinded a promised $25,000 donation. In response, more than 140 individuals along with 11 universities and associations donated to make up for that loss. A powerful force in this initiative was Dr. Charles N. Davis, dean of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, where the NPPA home office is based. Grady College made a generous donation, and Davis then reached out to other journalism schools, and they also contributed.
We are grateful and honored to serve NPPA, its members and the journalism community. That’s why, although we each receive a retainer from NPPA, we have also donated hundreds of hours of our time at no charge. Your ongoing support means we will be able to continue our important work. We endeavor to be worthy of the trust put in us and make the “Voice of Visual Journalists” heard loud and clear through our advocacy. Thank you.
You can reach Mickey Osterreicher at [email protected] and Alicia Calzada at [email protected]
Our Ethics Stance Cost Us a Donor But Gaines Us Far More
The NPPA thanks its members and donors for their support of NPPA’s Advocacy efforts advocating for strong copyright law and a vibrant First Amendment. You can contribute to NPPA’s Advocacy efforts by clicking on the Donate button.