Don’t shoot RAW: Reuters instructs photographers to submit only JPEGs

reuters no raw files professional photojournalist
Rafael Ben-Ari/123RF

Reuters has a new policy for freelance photographers it employs: no RAW photos. The global news agency confirmed it with PetaPixel, saying there’s a need for its photography to “reflect reality,” not to “artistically interpret the news.” Photographers will be required to submit the original JPEG files they shot in-camera.

If you aren’t familiar with RAW, it’s an uncompressed format that delivers better image quality than standard JPEG. It has far fewer artifacts than compressed methods, and gives photographers greater post-editing capabilities. But RAW files are large and require processing; when it comes to breaking news, speed is far more important than making things look pretty, and that’s why JPEG is more convenient — it’s ready to use right out of the box, so to speak. JPEGs are easier to work with, as they can be uploaded to websites without major processing, are more efficient to send over email, and are compatible with social media and other Web standards.

“We have therefore asked our photographers to skip labor and time consuming processes to get our pictures to our clients faster,” Reuters tells PetaPixel.

But speed is only half the story: “As photojournalists working for the world’s largest international news provider,” Reuters tells PetaPixel that its photography must also adhere to its ethics policies — to tell the visual story as it happened and without manipulation. Last year, an award-winning Associated Press freelance photographer was fired after it was discovered he doctored a video while reporting from Syria, even though he had no ill intension and it was a lapse in judgment.

Reuters says it’s not a complete ban. Photographers can still shoot in RAW, but they must also shoot JPEG simultaneously. High-end cameras let you save both at once, but they take up a lot of room on a memory card.