LIVE: Journalist tells how he began his career at 15 – and got arrested

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By Jack Goodman

A freelance journalist says he is proof that age is no barrier in the media industry – as he was already earning money at 15 as a photographer.

The audience at Leeds Trinity’s Journalism Week heard how Jules Mattsson, who now works for ITN, was arrested as a teenager for taking pictures of the police.

However, as a member of the National Union of Journalists, he knew he had the right to take photos and sued the Metropolitan Police, and was awarded compensation and an apology.

Jules told how he finished school at 16 and worked for a picture agency and took a wide variety of photographs from the magistrates courts to documenting stories around the word.

He then decided that there was not enough money in news photography and started working for The Guardian which then led to jobs at other national newspapers.

He said: “I started my career by going out in my spare time at weekends taking news pictures. Something strange happened… they started getting used.

“It’s incredibly important to know that you don’t need anything to start off – you can partly teach yourself the skills. I have no degree or journalism qualifications, I just got in to it through interest.

“There is nothing stopping student journalists taking photos and making a story to send to broadcasters and print organisations for publishing.

“I flip-flopped across the industry without a clue what I’m doing.”

Jules also talked about user generated content, saying it is an important part of modern journalism, but is filled with pitfalls.

He said that he believes some organisations are trying to replace journalists with user-generated content – getting people to send in content rather than paying professional photographers to go out and get the photos.

“UGC is not the same as receiving professional content from a journalist – it’s like a source.  You need to be aware of where the content is coming from.

“UGC is great if it captures that moment, or if the story is too remote for a professional crew.  People still pay for professional content because sometimes it’s the only option.

“Is UGC taking over professional photography?” – “I think it’s at risk of doing so.  It’s not just UGC, it’s reporters with camera phones.  When you’re talking about budgets, it’s definitely a risk, but I don’t think it will.  People like the Mail Online spend an absolute fortune on photography.”

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