NC reporter creates site so journalists can access editorial photos at no cost

Editor’s Note: and Jaymie Baxley have received an overwhelming critical response about the Q&A about Jaymie Baxley’s free photo collection. We received hundreds of comments on our website and social media platforms, especially from professional photojournalists. While still stands by reporting on what Jaymie Baxley was trying to implement, he has asked to inform our readers that he has reconsidered his free photo collection project and has taken it down on his site. In the meantime, SizingUpTheSouth will be talking to various photojournalists next week to hear their point of view about the state of photojournalism in this country and why they were so alarmed about Baxley’s effort to provide free photos. Watch for an article about our discussion with photojournalists.

By Tori Collins | Reporter, Intern |

Jaymie Baxley

One journalist is trying to give back to the print and online newspaper industry. And it won’t cost journalists a dime.

As recent as April 2019, Jaymie Baxley, a reporter and multimedia journalist from The Pilot newspaper in South Pines, North Carolina, has designed a platform for journalists to access editorial photos, free of charge.

Considering that many newsrooms don’t have the option of hiring a photojournalist, and there is difficulty accessing non-copyrighted photos on the internet, Baxley sees a need to offer editorial photos to journalists, and with the understanding that no one receives compensation in return.

Baxley’s free editorial photos database was recently announced on his Facebook page, and he said other journalists have been sharing the link to his platform at

But he also said he hopes that other journalists will also contribute to the database so other journalists and newsrooms can also benefit from the free editorial photos.

Jaymie Baxley explains to

SizngUpTheSouth: How can journalists interested in utilizing the editorial photos access your website and submit photos to use be used by other journalists and newsrooms?

Jaymie Baxley: For the access and what’s available now, they [journalists] would simply go to That’s the landing page for this project, which includes other resources I’ve wrangled for working journalists in North Carolina. [Next, click on the hyperlink “Editorial Photographs” at the bottom of the paragraph on the landing page.]

If someone wants to pitch in and donate their photos, they should email If there’s an interest in building a separate site — one without my name on it — [it] will be created to house the contributed content.

At that point, there will likely be a free registration process for journalists who wish to download the photographs, most as a measure to ensure the content is being used by the appropriate people for the intended use. The whole idea is to help fellow journalists in small newsrooms where reporters are increasingly tasked with finding images to accompany their own articles.

Eventually journalists might need to register for the photo service.

There will be some kind of safeguard in place to discourage non-journalists from using the photographs for commercial or personal purposes. Contributors will be registered differently, and they will have the ability to independently upload an categorize their own images and add cutline suggestions.

SUS: What will be the image resolution for the collection of photos?

Baxley: A minimum of 72 dpi seems reasonable for submissions. Larger resolutions are great, but it seems inappropriate to impose standards on contributors who are donating their work.

Many journalists who work in the smaller newspaper market have limited access to professional cameras from their newsroom. Many journalists may have to share a SLR. NicePik photo

SUS: What has been your personal experience with trying to access photos for assignments?

Baxley: Before joining The Pilot, I was one of four reporters; there was not a photojournalist; there was one camera. You had to share a camera and there was no access to any photos because that would take more money, and the publisher of that paper wasn’t willing to split the bill for that, so it was left up to the reporters to figure it out.

SUS: Where did you see a need for the editorial photos to be accessible to other fellow journalist?

Baxley: I know a lot of reporters, especially in rural communities, [that] are expected to find images to accompany their articles. So these reporters, they work in newsrooms where they can’t afford to hire a photojournalist, they can’t afford to subscribe to a photography service, so they kind of have to figure that out on their own. 

Another thing I’ve noticed with small newspapers … is sharing articles on social media with images that were clearly yanked from Google Images, [maybe] without the photographer’s permission. And I do think that puts newspapers at risk of being accused of theft — you know, I do think that there is a liability there. Of course there are options for Google free images, but when you’re reporting on something specific, something specific to the state, then I don’t think you have as many options. 

SUS: Can individuals outside the journalism profession utilize the editorial photos?

Baxley: No, I’m not cool with that. I should point out that I know it’s really hard to enforce, but if I discover any of that [people outside the journalism profession utilizing the editorial photos], I would politely ask that the images be removed. My goal is to help fellow journalists.

SUS: Are college students studying journalism encouraged to use the editorial photos, to perhaps accompany assignments for college media?

Baxley: Absolutely, that is a great idea. I would include them [student journalists writing for college media] in that group of professional journalists. My student newspaper was filled with clip art and it just didn’t look presentable, so I think maybe this could contribute to that [less clip art].

Student newsrooms may also benefit from this free photo collection service. Wiki photo

SUS: Will you receive compensation from any journalist serving outside of North Carolina, who may be interested in using the editorial photos?

Baxley: No, I really don’t want to do that [receive compensation from journalists serving outside of North Carolina]. I just want it to be free. I think it’s important to keep it free because then anyone [journalist] can access it.

SUS: Can other professional journalists and people working outside of the journalism profession submit their personal editorial photos to be used by other journalists? 

Baxley: I actually haven’t put a call out for submission yet, so everything you see there [the editorial photos], it’s all the stuff I’ve taken. I hope to eventually select photographs from other reporters. It also would be good if people [not working in the journalism profession] are willing to submit their images, as long as they understand they will not be compensated for them. I would be ecstatic about that. 

I came up with the idea sometime last year, and I had been considering various ways to execute it, but finally I was like well I have a website. So I dedicated a section of my website to this idea.

Jaymie Baxley, reporter and multimedia journalist at The Pilot newspaper, NC

SUS: How did you create the collection of Editorial Photos, N.C Datasets and the Reporters Rolodex?

Baxley: I came up with the idea sometime last year, and I had been considering various ways to execute it, but finally I was like well I have a website. So I dedicated a section of my website to this idea. You’ll also notice that in addition to the editorial photographs there is also a collection of data sets [listed on the website as N.C Datasets] that I thought might be helpful for reporters looking for statistics to complete an enterprise project. There is also a directory of sources [listed as Reporter’s Rolodex] that I thought would be very useful to journalists across the state, they’re all sources that are experts on a whole variety of subjects. 

Collecting the data sets and the sources were sort of easy, but the editorials [photos] were kind of tricky because some of them were taken from newspapers when I worked there in the past. So I had to make sure that I secured ownership of those images to the news organization before making them freely available. 

SUS: Have you received any feedback about the editorial photos from fellow journalists?

 Baxley: I announced it [the editorial photo collection] on my Facebook and immediately a lot of colleagues who work in other newsrooms begin praising the idea, also sharing the link to it [editorial photo collection]. I think they certainly appreciated the need for it. I think reporters have had this problem before, where they know they’ve got an article, and they know it’s not going to get any traction unless there is some imagery attached, but they don’t have many options for art.  

SUS: Where do you see the editorial photos in 2-5 years from now? 

Baxley: I hope at that point (2-5 years from now) it would have gained a reputation of a credible resource that journalist could use, and people are actively contributing to it. I want it to be helpful that’s the main thing, I want it to be a good resource. 

For more information about the free editorial photos site, contact Jaymie Baxley at

Throughout Baxley’s time at The Pilot, he said he reports on local news stories, breaking news assignments, and dives deeply into investigative enterprise projects. He also produces online multimedia content for the newspaper. His efforts, along with other The Pilot journalists, has given recognition from the National Newspaper Association and named the best U.S. community newspaper for the past three years. 

Along with his duties at The Pilot, Baxley served several local publications throughout North Carolina as a reporter and as an editor. He covered pop culture news, small business news, news concerning higher education, municipal government and rural communities that suffer from extreme poverty conditions.

Jaymie Baxley works for The Pilot newspaper in North Carolina. Supplied photo

In addition to Baxley’s work for print journalism, he also holds experience in multimedia journalism. Since 2014, Baxley has won nearly ten awards and has been recognized by North Carolina Press Association. for his photos. His work has also appeared in national art publications such as ArtSlant, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art and American Songwriter. 

Part of his ability to keep a community informed is leading him to reach for a leadership position for journalists and journalism through the Society of Professional Journalists. In August 2019, Baxley said he plans to continue serving North Carolina by restarting the SPJ North Carolina chapter.

Sharon Dunten, executive editor, contributed to this article.

Tori Collins

Tori Collins is a student at Georgia State University studying journalism. She transferred from Georgia Southern University in May 2019. Ga.

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