As photos flood our screens, which ones hold our attention?

During a week when millions of viewers/readers keenly search internet screen, mobile devices and publication pages for photographic images of a botched Super Bowl XLIX pass, an encaged Jordanian ISIS hostage and a tragic Taiwanese TransAsia Airways flight 235, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) released some pretty revealing findings of their own.

The question the study looked at is “What makes a photograph worth publishing in an age when images are shared in an instant, around the world?” The study has gone beyond the anecdotal to provide some scientific facts.

John Loengrad, former Life Magazine picture editors insisted that the picture editors see her/his roles as the advocate for the photographer,  “Other editors, with the story’s text in hand, may judge photographs by what they have read. Don’t join them. The reader sees before he ever reads and may never read if there’s nothing interesting to see.”

In this interview, research author Sara Quinn shares her insights and lessons learned.

Tell us about your most recent research.

Quinn: I worked with the National Press Photographers Association to look at how people engage with photojournalism—what they look at in a news photograph, how they read captions, what they value, remember and want to share.

What was the primary goal of the research?

Quinn: In part, to see if people could distinguish between the work of professionally trained photojournalists and user-generated images—images sent in by the public.

How did you go about creating the test?

Quinn: I aggregated 200 published images for the test. One hundred had been taken by professional journalists and 100 photographs submitted by members of the general public and published by various news organizations. The photographs were arranged in a random order with their original, published captions.

What was the methodology? Did you just sit people down in a room? How did you go about gathering their responses?

Quinn:I recruited people from around the Minneapolis area in two different age groups. One group was 18-30 years old and the other was 45-60 years old. Half of them were men, half were women. It’s a research technique, to clearly distinguish between two different ages. These age groups are the same that we have used for other eyetracking studies for Poynter.

How did your previous experience with eyetracking inform this work?

Quinn:There are certain things that our eyetracking research has shown over time. When people sit down to any type of media—print, online, tablet and so forth—photographs always draw attention. The largest photograph or headline in a design tends to draw the first gaze. Previously, we have focused on elements of interface. This new focus on photojournalism helps to round out our picture of news consumption.

So, what’s the news, given that visual leaders have stressed the importance of strong photography for a long time? What does your research show?

Quinn:Professional photographs were preferred to amateur photographs out of the 200 images in the study.

I asked the participants to rate the quality of each image they looked at on a scale of 1 to 5. I also asked them to rate the likelihood that they might share each image.

When we analyzed the data, we found that each photograph rated highest had been taken by a professional photojournalist. And, professional images were twice as likely to be shared by the participants.

When I asked what photographs had been most memorable out of the group of 200 or so they had just seen, participants recalled professional images.

What other findings could newsrooms benefit from?

Quinn:Captions were very well read and important to context and understanding. A well-written—or even just lengthier—caption increased the likelihood that a photograph received attention.

Captions with the pro photographs in the study tended to be well developed, and received 30 percent of the average time spent on an image. The user-generated captions were generally short and incomplete, receiving little attention.

So, good captions are crucial. The study furthers our understanding of this. I have now personally watched dozens of people as they viewed dozens of photographs. People look back and forth between caption and image to establish the story. That translates into comprehension and retention.

What else?

Quinn:People had distinct opinions about the storytelling qualities of a photo and what made it worth publishing.

The 52 people in the study came from a variety of walks of life—a cement worker, housewives, a flight attendant, a school nurse, a statistics grad student, quite a few international students, office workers. When we began, I didn’t know if they might say, “oh, a photo is a photo is a photo,” or if they would have more to say about the photographs we showed them.

They were pretty articulate, and their comments surprised me. They mentioned the importance of having access to an event, capturing a perspective that they might never get the chance to see. … in addition to making comments about the technical qualities of an image. And, an emphasis on “story” came up in nearly every interview.

Any other big finds?

Quinn: People were able to tell whether a photo had been taken by a professional or an amateur 90 percent of the time.

How does the eyetrack apparatus work?

Quinn: Research expert Nora Paul and the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communications allowed us to use their eye-tracking lab. We used a small device with an invisible, infrared camera that sits under a computer monitor. It records the gaze of a person as he or she looks at a photograph. The result is a video that shows what someone is looking at, at any given time.

Watching these videos, I found most people look at a face in a photograph first. And they are very interested in the interactions and relationships between people in a photograph. They tend to look back and forth between faces and the physical dealings between people in a photo.

A test subject in the eyetracking research at the University of Minnesota talks about one photograph in a set of images taken at a Bollywood awards ceremony in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Alex Garcia)

A test subject in the eyetracking research at the University of Minnesota talks about one photograph in a set of images taken at a Bollywood awards ceremony in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Alex Garcia)

I was also able to see how much of a caption a person read, and in what sequence they looked at elements of a photograph.

What’s the broader application of this study? Does this apply to news from organizations that might have decided to eliminate staff photographers in favor of using user-generated content? Is there anything related to this that news leaders should be thinking about?

Quinn: Definitely. Let me just give you my perspective, based on what I’ve learned from this research. While there certainly is reason to reach out to the community for varied perspectives—whether it be photography or writing, man-on-the-street or commentary from the community—people still find the context and quality of published material important to reporting on the what’s happening in the world.

We saw recently, the New York Times published a series of Instagram photos about the blizzard.

Quinn:Right, I consider things like that to be an interesting addition to—not replacement for quality photojournalism.

I have another example, from a high school publication: A student took a quick photo and quote from every student he found studying late one evening in a downtown library before finals (or mid-terms). He posted it to Snapchat. It was essentially a visual, social media poll of an impromptu event that might not be covered by local media.

It wasn’t high quality photojournalism, of course, but it was certainly an interesting way to report on an event. Picked up by a media organization, this would have been user-generated content.

Our research shows that people recognize and value the trained eye of a professional photojournalist—someone who is able to gain access and find a visual reporting perspective.

And, we asked the question in a variety of different research forms—quality ratings, eyetracking, likelihood of sharing, a query on the origin of a series of photographs, exit interviews—and the findings show a strong awareness of quality.

UGC offers possibilities for gathering varied perspectives, but that is very different than relying on user-generated content for all coverage.

It’s interesting to think about this on a continuum of photojournalism, where professional photojournalism is at the top and snapshot photography is at the bottom. We might ask, is there a place for pro-sumer level—to borrow a metaphor from camera manufacturers— of imagery that falls somewhere in between?

Quinn:Just as we might be able to find a letter to the editor that was so well-crafted that you might consider it to be of a professional standard, it’s still not the norm.

What questions do you feel were stimulated by this research that still need to be addressed?

Quinn:One of the things that I found interesting is the average amount of time that people spent with higher quality — and, in this case, professional— photographs, was greater than the average for any of the published user-generated photographs in the study. People spent 50 percent more time on the pro photographs, on average.

The study showed that the amount of time that people are willing to spend, looking at a photograph (and a caption) that is well executed is greater with professional level photojournalism.

Some people might say, “well, yeah, we’d expect that.” But, now we have valid, scientific evidence that supports it. I hope that having this bit of research gives us a peg to have a lot of smart conversation around this.

Sara Quinn: In addition to this research and consulting work, I am teaching for one year at Ball State University.

Related link: Learn more about this eyetracking research in a NewsU webinar,
Friday, February 13, 2015 at 2:00pm Eastern Time. Read more


Photo Sphere, a free and simple tool, gives interactivity and depth to stories

I have tried many programs and apps over the years to capture 360-degree interactive photographs. None has been as easy to use as Google’s Photo Sphere Camera app. Android users have had this at their fingertips for more than a year but the iPhone app is fairly new.

This is PhotoSphere’s instructional video. It really is as easy as it looks.

Photo Sphere tells me to aim my iPhone camera at an orange dot (the dot is blue on Android phones) on the screen. When I get it aligned, the camera snaps, and I do this over and over as I turn in a 360-degree motion. Once I get all the way around, I tilt up to capture the ceiling and down to capture the floor. In all, I captured a 18 images. I knew I was done when there were no white spaces left on my screen to fill with a photo. The photos will overlap, but not to worry. When I am done capturing I touch the check mark on the screen and the photos are stitched together. A minute or so later, the image is ready to be emailed, shared or sent to a web page editor to embed.

I am working in Chicago this week, so I stood in the lobby of the beautiful Palmer Hotel to give Photo Sphere a try. This is my first creation. Click on the photo and drag around to get a 360-degree look at the lobby.

Nice ceiling, right? I did the project a couple of more times waiting for crowds to clear out before I captured the 360-degree panoramic image. One issue to be aware of is when the image has a lot of motion in it, you can get blurs.

I got hooked on 360-degree imaging years ago when saw a Washington Post 360 of a fireworks display. That project included an audio track of the crowd yelling and clapping for each explosion. But the process of creating them was too time consuming for me. I wanted to be able to capture images quickly, sew them together and turn the photos into a panorama in minutes, not hours. Then came along some auto-stitching software that would match sections of the frame for me.

My first try was with and it was surprisingly good, but it is not free. Here is a long list of panoramic stitching applications, some free and some not. As you can see a lot of them have free versions, but the images are watermarked.

Microsoft’s Photosynth is another great tool for 360s. The Microsoft tool has been around for years and now has a “synthing” algorithm that also allows the user to construct a three-dimensional model using photos sometimes from different directions. Microsoft says its program can meld 200 photos into one interactive in no more than 10 minutes, usually. Here is a demonstration of how to use Photosynth on a phone.

Microsoft’s Photosynth also allows large gigabyte-sized panoramic photos, which preserves details in high-resolution quality.

The software and hardware you use may depend on what you need.

There are lots of kinds of panoramic photos from a partial pano, which I often capture on my iPhone using the pano setting. I like this because it gives a sense of size and proportion to an event.


The Cylindrical pano is a full 360-degree shot but it does not include what is above and below the photographer which Photo Sphere now makes easy.

The spherical panorama like Photo Sphere provides is what really captures my attention. I love being able to zoom in and out on any part of the image around, above or below me.

If you really want to step up the quality of your panos, try using a DSLR camera and a pano tripod head.

This is how pros would capture an image like that using a 360-tripod head and a camera with a fisheye lens.

Real pano pros use motorized tripod heads they control with their computer or laptop.

Is there an ethical concern involved with stitching photos together for a news story? I could see the argument that we are taking several images, separated by several seconds or even longer and turning them into a single image that may not have existed that way in reality. For example, this image of Paris is certainly a collection of many images Photo Sphere stitched together.



The bird would have certainly moved and so would the people. So the bird and the people would not have existed in exactly the position that was captured. A key here is to explain your technique to the public and point out the image is a composite of many images captured over, for example, a minute. If you wanted to, you could even make the individual images available in a slideshow.

From an online point of view, it puts the user in charge of what he or she wants to see and obviously the interactivity increases the time the user spends on the site, which is a key metric these days.

Whatever tool you choose for putting panoramic photos into your storytelling tool bag. The old problems of cost and difficulty shouldn’t stop you anymore. Read more

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When writing about Ebola, what images should you use?

Lately, I’ve noticed the predominance two kinds of images with stories about Ebola — the virus itself and people in hazmat suits. I’ve used both for stories myself and wondered about the tone and message they’re sending. Unlike what we’ve seen from West Africa, in the U.S. there aren’t a lot of images of the two people with confirmed cases of Ebola. There are, mostly, press conferences, people in hazmat suits and the virus itself. It feels almost sci-fi.

Here are three front pages from Friday that show the Ebola virus super up close, via Newseum:


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On Tuesday, I tweeted this front, from the Times-Journal in Fort Payne, Alabama:

Earlier this month, I wrote about front pages from around the world that showed masked cleanup crews and health care workers.

The New York Daily News offered both the virus and the hazmat. Also Sofia Vergara sans pants.

ny_daily_news.750 (1)

So, with the practical need for images online and in print, what images should news organizations show while reporting on Ebola?

Kelly McBride, Poynter’s vice president of academic programs and media ethicist, says to also look at the whole package you’re presenting and the message it sends.

“A blowup image of a big scary virus, people in hazmat suits, alarming words in the headline, all that can overwhelm a completely reasonable story,” she said in an email. “Pushing out mobile alerts that scream: ‘More contagion, another person falls ill,’ make people think that they have to act now. Editors have a duty to envision how a reasonable consumer will respond. What information does that consumer really need first and foremost?”

“When it comes to images, I believe journalists (writers, photographers, page designers and editors) need to be responsible – as I hope they would in any situation,” said Andrew Seaman, a medical journalist with Reuters and the ethics chair of the Society of Professional Journalists, in an email. “The images must tell the story accurately. For example, the image should probably not be that of a person suffering with Ebola in a small Liberian medical center if the story is specifically about what is happening in Texas. Instead, it would be more appropriate to show images of the patients walking onto the planes carrying them to Maryland. Or, it could be of the well-wishers outside the hospital as the patients drive by in ambulances. The experience of people with Ebola in Liberia is – for the most part – much different than the experience of patients in the U.S.”

I sent Seaman two of the front pages from Friday, the San Diego Union-Tribune and The New York Daily News, and he doesn’t think either crossed an ethical line, “because images from a microscope can be shown in different ways,” he said. “Headlines, of course, are another matter.”

Most people understand that Ebola is a serious medical condition, he said.

“Journalists shouldn’t pander to that fear or anxiety by including the most shocking or ominous images they find. The SPJ Code of Ethics applies to photography as it would to any other form of journalism. The images should reflect the truth – as should the other pieces of journalism it accompanies.”

Previously: Journalists struggle to balance reporting on Ebola with HIPAA

Why AP isn’t moving stories for every suspected Ebola case

From Dallas, 5 tips on covering Ebola
Read more

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Taking an Instagram Photo with an iPhone

Tips for broadcast journalists: When sharing breaking news on social, speed trumps beauty

Today’s multimedia journalists have to do it all on their own – report, write, edit, drive, set up live shots, and post to social media and the Web. Usually, that’s just considered a long list of stuff to do by deadline. But in breaking news coverage, the journalist has some tough choices to make.

The biggest challenge is getting the great video for the story that’s going to air on TV and being the first one to inform news consumers via social media. Here are some strategies to help serve both masters.

Let’s break down these tips into three categories:

  1. What to shoot
  2. Workflow
  3. How to distribute via social media

What to shoot

Shoot the most obvious thing news consumers will recognize right now. After all, we’re talking about breaking news and the situation may change by the time the newscast airs. This isn’t about beauty, it’s about social media speed – beat the competition and get back to using your broadcast camera for the newscast.

Because we’re talking about TV, video is a must. We want to give our followers a taste of the great stuff they’ll only see on TV later. Still photos are obviously another way to bring your followers in. Shoot one of each.

This video and photo are from a breaking news fire in the San Francisco Bay Area in June. The video gives social media followers a sense of what’s happening and confirms the reporter’s on the scene gathering information. The still photo is complementary.

Video of fire:

Photo of helicopter water drop:


Work flow

This is where multimedia journalists have a tough decision to make. Which is the priority: social media or the newscast? I’d recommend shooting the social media stuff first. Dedicate a few minutes to it – five minutes max – and then go back to your camera.

Don’t beat yourself up over what you couldn’t get out through social media. Remember, this is more about informing news consumers now and beating the competition, not having the prettiest shot. You want your followers to know you’re there. If you’re first, they’ll catch up with you again on the newscast or on the web when you’ve got your complete video story assembled.

In the end this is about making choices. You can’t be in two places at once operating two cameras at once and doing two jobs at once. Keep this in mind: the best pictures are for your broadcast story, the first pictures are for social media.

If there’s a scenario where you’re waiting and don’t want to miss it – say a building collapse – set up the broadcast camera, lock down the tripod, and then start rolling. With the camera rolling, get out your phone to shoot your social media video and photo. Then go back to the camera.

How to distribute breaking news video via social media:

— Use your phone to gather your social media video. Skip the tablets; even an iPad mini is too big to fit in your pocket. You want to be as mobile as possible, and being able to stuff your social media newsgathering and distribution tool into your pocket is the epitome of mobility.

— Upload your videos via YouTube. Cellphones have simple, already-established workflows that make the process quicker.

— Here are 10 steps to reporting breaking news via social media

1. Shoot your video.

2. Choose send.


3. Choose the YouTube option.


4. Write a simple description for the YouTube video description box that you can copy and paste into a social media post later when the video is published.


5. Choose SD. It’s faster, which is what we’re shooting for here.


6. Choose “Public” and then Publish (top right).


7. Wait for a few seconds and chose “View on YouTube.”


8. Once on YouTube, choose share.


9. Choose Twitter or Facebook to post there, or email to send the link back to your Web Team at the station.


Simon Perez is assistant professor of broadcast and digital journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School Of Public Communications.

Related training: How and When to Shoot Video with a Smartphone Read more


Will Steacy photographed The Philadelphia Inquirer’s turmoil for 3 years

Will Steacy was in his New York apartment in 2011 when he got a call from his father in Philadelphia. It was bad news. After almost three decades at The Philadelphia Inquirer, his dad was being laid off.

The call was painful. Steacy, a professional photographer, had spent the last three years chronicling financial hardship at the Inquirer for a project he called Deadline. Starting in 2009, he began capturing images that depicted the Inquirer’s struggle to survive during an era of diminished ad revenue: vacant desks, trash bins piled high with newsprint, an old typewriter being used as a bookend. Steacy took a break from the project for a month. When he came back, the first image he captured was of his dad’s old desk.

Credit: Will Steacy

Steacy’s father’s desk after he was laid off. Credit: Will Steacy

“That was a hard picture to take,” Steacy said.

Now, three years later, the project is almost finished. He documented the paper’s move from its longtime home at Broad Street — fondly known as the “Tower of Truth” — to new offices in a former department store. Steacy decided not to shoot photos in the Inquirer’s new building, preferring to end his project where his father ended his career.

Credit: Will Steacy

The Inquirer newsroom at Broad Street the day after the move. Credit: Will Steacy

Although he financed the entire project himself, Steacy turned to his audience for help when it came time to publish the photos in a book. He held a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter that ended Tuesday, leaving him with slightly more than $26,000 — $16,000 more than his stated goal. He says he’ll spend the extra money on improving the book, which will be given to backers who donated $50 or more.

“I’m just so incredibly honored and humbled by the outpouring of generosity and support,” Steacy said. “Friends and family have supported me, but even more so, complete strangers.”

The five-year project has bookended several important events in Steacy’s life. In 2010, his family had just finished putting up the Christmas tree when when his father’s heart doctor called, telling them to go to the hospital right away. He needed a quadruple bypass. In October 2011, his dad was laid off, snapping a family tradition in newspapers five-generations long. The thought of stopping the project after that occurred to Stacey, but his father wanted him to continue.

Credit: Will Steacy

“Buyouts.” Credit: Will Steacy

Then, In July 2013, Steacy and his girlfriend were heading back from a wedding when they abruptly decided to get married. They found a town clerk who offered to marry them in one of two places — a nearby graveyard or outside the municipal building by a tree. They chose the tree. The birth of his son, Miles, came this May.

The book will be printed and distributed to Steacy’s Kickstarter backers in the coming months. But the project won’t be over for Steacy until he puts the book into his father’s hands.

“When they were moving out of the former newsroom, my father wasn’t there to say goodbye to it,” Steacy said. “So I took it upon myself to say goodbye for him.”

Credit: Will Steacy

Letters of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s flag are missing in the paper’s elevator lobby the night of the paper’s move from the building on Broad Street. Credit: Will Steacy

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How the Post-Dispatch’s photo staff is covering Ferguson

A demonstrator throws back a tear gas container after tactical officers broke up a group of bystanders on Chambers Road near W. Florissant Avenue on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. Photo by Robert Cohen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A demonstrator throws back a tear gas container after tactical officers broke up a group of bystanders on Chambers Road near W. Florissant Avenue on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. Photo by Robert Cohen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

After three days of very loud and very angry protests, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Director of Photography Lynden Steele followed his staffers’ Twitter feeds, text messages and listened to scanner chatter for perspective.

By 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, as the end of the traditional news cycle drew near, he searched for an appropriate photograph that reflected a day of calm.

The Rev. Al Sharpton visited the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson in response to the police shooting of unarmed Michael Brown. Two peaceful services were held where followers raised their hands in the air and shouted, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and then walked into the street.

On assignment for the fourth day was veteran photographer Robert Cohen, who earlier in the day told Poynter, “This was the most violent coverage that I have been a part of my 27 or so years in the profession.”

“Race has not been in the news every day” Cohen said about his 15-year tenure at the Post-Dispatch, “but it has been simmering in this town.” It was different during 10 years he spent in Memphis.

“In Memphis it was a constant discussion. In St. Louis, I found that was not the case,” Cohen said. “People simmer and stare here. And when they do talk, whether in person or online, it’s much more vitriolic. That’s not a blanket statement, but I see this quite a bit.”

After midnight, that quieter evening calm quickly changed.

“This was a quiet night and I was unsure about which picture to send until 12:28 a.m.,” Steele said in an email, “when the police started firing tear gas … and a protester decided to throw it back.”

“It happened too late for the paper,” he said, “but we’ve posted it online.”

“I really believed that we’d be cool last night,” Cohen added in an email. “Much smaller gathering of demonstrators … That group declared they were going to leave the police blockade with dignity, got in a line and walked away silently. We all said a collective ‘ahhhh.’ But then another gathering started a few blocks away, and that ended poorly.”

Covering Ferguson since Saturday, the Post-Dispatch team has shown “how fast you have to be,” as Steele put it, “and you cannot live on daily deadline.”

Related:#IfTheyGunnedMeDown challenges the media and how it portrays people of color

Ferguson is more than a hashtag

St. Louis photographer on scene at riots: ‘This is my job’ Read more

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Police Shooting Missouri

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown challenges the media and how it portrays people of color

Time | The Root

After police shot and killed teenager Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, a hashtag started on Twitter to push back at the narrative many mainstream media organizations often fall into.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find mainstream media showing Brown at his high school graduation or with members of his family,” Yesha Callahan wrote for The Root on Monday. “Ironically, all of those photos exist courtesy of Brown’s Facebook page.” Callahan continued:

As tensions remain high, not only in the town of Ferguson but also on social media, Twitter users created #IfTheyGunnedMeDown to make a statement on how the media draws a biased narrative when it comes to telling the stories of black men and women.

Hashtag activism can just be an excuse for not actually doing something, James Poniewozik wrote for Time on Monday.

But #IfTheyGunnedMeDown was a simple, ingenious DIY form of media criticism: direct, powerful, and meaningful on many levels. It made the blunt point that every time a media outlet chooses a picture of someone like Brown, it makes a statement. It created identification: so many ordinary people–students, servicemen and women, community volunteers–could be made to look like a public menace with one photo dropped in a particular context. And it made a particular racial point: that it’s so much easier, given our culture’s racial baggage, for a teenager of color to be made to look like a “thug” than white teen showing off for a camera the exact same way.

Poynter’s faculty shared their thoughts on the hashtag and offered some guidance for journalists.

Kenny Irby:

This is an unfortunate, yet real reaction on the part of young black and brown men in America today. It is indeed a throw back to the Trayvon Martin tragedy. And here is what media can learn from the conversation.

  • One image does not encapsulate the life of an individual.
  • Complete captions are essential for accurate context.
  • Be aware of the potential to stereotype and misrepresent through visual presentation.
  • Understand that a bereaved family is not guided by journalistic standard of timeliness.
  • Update the photographic coverage as the story develops.

Kelly McBride:

This a natural-born news literacy moment. News consumers see the patterns around choices that professional journalists and other storytellers make with a familiar story. And consumers recognize the limitations of those choices. Underneath the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown commentary is a request that we be more nuanced and flexible in our story-telling. Most people aren’t entirely bad or entirely good. We don’t need victims of violence to fall into those categories in order for a story to resonate. And we certainly don’t need police officers to fall into those categories. Because good and bad are false categories when it comes to human beings. Instead we need stories that capture full characters. And most importantly we need stories that document facts, promote understanding and hold the powerful accountable.

Al Tompkins:

No single image can define an individual. It is possible for an image to be accurate, real and unaltered and still not be a true depiction of who that person is. A booking photo could be a single image of a person are the worst moment of his or her life. A wedding photo could be that same person at the best moment of his/her life. Both are extremes. Seek context.


  • The captions we use with any image can be crucial. Explain who supplied the image, when and where was it captured? What were the circumstances?
  • Remember that the repeated use of images as file video on television for example, can shape the way the public sees that person.
  • Be particularly thoughtful about backgrounds and settings. How does the image change if you crop out a background or include it? Are there logos, commercial products, signs or locations that may be included in the image that could unintentionally harm that product or business or send an unintended signal about the individual in the photo?
  • Toning an image, including dodging and burning should render the image in a way that reflects what the photographer captured through the viewfinder. Dark toning may make a person appear more suspicious or less trustworthy.
  • What role does the clothing that the individual is wearing play in how that person may be perceived?
  • What motives might a source have to supply you a particular image of a person, be it police, friends of the victim, enemies of the victim?
  • Which images get the most prominence in your coverage? Why?

The #iftheygunnedmedown hashtag forces us all to consider “if I was newsworthy for whatever reason today, what is the single worst or most damning photo ever taken of me? What would it say about me? How could it be taken out of context?”

Butch Ward

The inclination of news organizations to use photos to illustrate stories, instead of to tell stories, is catching up with them. Telling the story of a young man’s life in a single photograph is unfortunately common; the same organizations would be far less likely to publish a story with such one-dimensional reporting.

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown asks the logical question of media that oversimplifies, even issues of life and death. As long as photos and other visuals are viewed as decorations instead of important — and often more powerful — means of storytelling, newsrooms will fail to ask rigorous questions of them, like:

  • Having seen this photo, what do we know and what do we realize we don’t know?
  • Does this photo, standing alone, tell a true story of this person’s life?
  • What further (visual) reporting needs to be done before we can publish this photograph?
  • Are we capable of putting this photo in the proper context, either with a caption, or additional photographs?

Jill Geisler

What does the “Real Me” look like in a photo?

It’s a question we ask participants in our news management seminars to consider— and actually share with the group in picture form. Remember, these are journalists. What do they choose? Photos with beloved family members, or of vacations at special places, cuddling with pets or crossing finish lines at half-marathons. Meaningful moments they feel define them as people.

They chose them.

The #iftheygunnedmedown messages are a loud and clear message to media leaders who routinely find and publish photos of people they’ve never met, often victims, usually powerless: You are choosing the iconic image that represents my life.

How do you know it’s “The Real Me”? Read more


Tumblr page shows how much news orgs pay photographers

PetaPixel | Who Pays Photographers?

“Who Pays Photographers?” is a Tumblr that takes anonymous submissions about who pays how much to photojournalists.

On Wednesday, Gannon Burgett wrote about the page for PetaPixel.

As photographers, one of the most difficult aspects of using it as a form of income is determining what is and isn’t deemed appropriate compensation for our work.

An almost taboo topic amongst photographers and even more so amongst editorial clients, the talk of pay is one that rarely gets brought to the front-lines. Ultimately, this leaves those looking to get into editorial gigs have a much larger barrier to entry, as less information is known by both parties.

The page credits the Tumblr page “Who Pays Writers” for the inspiration. Submissions include the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press and Texas A&M’s university newspaper, The Battalion.

Along with day rates and mileage, some of the submissions include important details such as how long it takes to get paid (three months, according to one, for The Wall Street Journal.)

Poynter has some good stuff on freelancing. Here’s a sampling:

– 5 tips for finding mentors in journalism, even if you don’t work in a newsroom

– Poynter’s News University also has this Webinar: “Jumpstarting Your Freelance Career: Marketing and Business Basics” Read more

Nelson Mandela

The New Yorker still fact-checks more than you do

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 (or so) media stories.

  1. What happened between NBC News and Ayman Mohyeldin? NBC News said Friday it would return the reporter to Gaza. (HuffPost) | The clumsy move was less a conspiracy than a “news division making mistakes through ratings nervousness.” (CNN) | Here’s a Mohyeldin report from this morning. (NBC News)
  2. The new launches: “The Web site already publishes fifteen original stories a day. We are promising more, as well as an even greater responsiveness to what is going on in the world.” (The New Yorker) | The publication assigns one fact-checker to its website: “And not to be defensive, but that’s one more fact-checker than probably anyone else has,” Editor David Remnick says. (Capital) | OH NO, A LISTICLE: The New Yorker tweets “eight things we think you’ll love” about the new site. (@NewYorker)
  3. Russian media broadcasts conspiracy theories about downed plane: “The Russian media space has become so uniform and independent voices so cowed and marginalized that there is no counterweight.” (The New Republic) | Russian-government funded English-language network RT reacts to reporter Sara Firth‘s resignation: “apparently we have different definitions of truth” (The Washington Post) | Firth: “I don’t think there are different definitions and versions of the truth.” (CNN) | Propaganda broadcasts in Russia “has become a problem for Putin, because this system cannot be wholly managed.” (The New Yorker)
  4. The New York Daily News is an “insane asylum”: That’s according to photographer David Handschuh, one of the 17 newsroom employees laid off Friday. The paper’s “photo desk was hit particularly hard,” Joe Pompeo reports: “Some sources even wonder if the News might be getting ready to scale back or eventually eliminate its print edition.” (Capital)
  5. How Rupert Murdoch could pay more for Time Warner: Use cash from sale of some German and Italian assets. (Bloomberg) | Henry Blodget: “one of Time Warner’s pieces of logic in saying ‘No thanks’ to the original offer is that two to three down the road, they think there will be many other potential acquirers.” (CNN) | 21st Century Fox has also looked at Scripps Networks and Univision (NYT) | Jack Shafer: “Murdoch looks a lot like the 1990s newspaper publishers who continued to buy other papers on the assumption that the moat…would support their near-monopoly profits infinitely.” But streaming video means “The moat has sprung a leak.” (Reuters)
  6. Cops and security guards hassle BuzzFeed reporter for taking pictures of buildings: Policies that permit photography haven’t quite filtered down to the muscle. (BuzzFeed)
  7. Copy editors aren’t all jazzed about “Weird Al”‘s “Word Crimes” video: “A huge segment of people aren’t viewing it as parody; they appear to be viewing it as their new grammar snob anthem. They’re identifying with feeling superior by calling other people stupid.” (ACES) | Watch the video. (Poynter)
  8. How to keep people on your site in a post-homepage world: Time, NBC News and the Los Angeles Times’ websites have all been “redesigned with an eye toward that second click or page view.” (Poynter) | Related: Yahoo and Say Media are launching “online magazines” to “remind advertisers that these are high-quality, editor-driven products with real audiences, not just listicles.” (Digiday)
  9. Here’s today’s world news, edited by Kristen Hare: Thai journalists want more freedoms, Amy Sawitta Lefevre reported Monday for Reuters. “The military said in an order late last week it could shut down any media that disseminates information that ‘could harm national security’ or criticizes the work of the ruling military council,” Sawitta Lefevre reported. | A journalist with Sky News went through a piece of luggage from the MH17 crash while on air, Catherine Taibi reported Sunday in the Huffington Post. Midway through, Colin Brazier realized that wasn’t a good idea and stopped. | has a Twitter list of people covering MH17. (I have a growing list, too.)
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Amy Ellis Nutt will head to The Washington Post in September to be a science writer. Formerly, she was an enterprise writer for The (Newark, New Jersey) Star-Ledger. (The Washington Post) | Jason Taylor, president of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has been named the publisher of The (Jackson, Mississippi) Clarion-Ledger. (The Clarion-Ledger) | Paula Faris will be a weekend co-anchor at “Good Morning America.” She was previously an ABC News correspondent. (Paula Faris) | Bianna Golodryga will leave “Good Morning America” to join Katie Couric at Yahoo News, where she’ll help coordinate coverage of daily news as well as major business and finance stories. (Yahoo News) | Natalie Zmuda has been promoted to deputy managing editor at Advertising Age. She was previously a reporter and editor there. (@nzmuda) | Chris Gardner will join The Hollywood Reporter as a staff writer. Formerly, he was a staff editor at Wonderwall/MSN. (Muck Rack) | Nick Ciletti will be a weekend anchor at ABC15 in Phoenix. Formerly, he was an anchor and reporter at NBC2 in southwest Florida. (Nick Ciletti) | Danielle Lerner will be an anchor at NBC2 in Phoenix. Formerly, she was an anchor at KVOA in Tucson, Arizona. (TVSpy) | Job of the day: NPR is looking for a senior digital editor for race, policy and social issues. Get your résumés in! | Send Ben your job moves:

Suggestions? Corrections? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: Read more


5 questions to ask before publishing graphic images

As scenes of the Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine make the news and flash across social media, here’s something to revisit from Poynter’s Kenny Irby. Last month, Irby wrote a piece with some advice on showing graphic images.

There will be obvious questions about showing death and trauma. Should you show the faces and identify the dead? Where should those images be published, if at all? What are the alternatives? How many photographs should be used and how long should they remain on the screen or be posted?

Different organizations make different decisions, Irby wrote. Here are five tips from that piece.

Whenever journalists are faced with covering conflicts and violence, it helps to consider your ethical compass:

  • What is my journalistic purpose?
  • What organizational policies and professional guidelines should I consider?
  • What are my ethical concerns?
  • Who is the audience — and who are the stakeholders affected by my decision?
  • What are my alternatives?

Here are some courses from Poynter’s News University that deal with related issues:

– Grappling with Graphic Images

– Don’t Get Fooled Again: Best Practices for Online Verification
– Getting It Right: Accuracy and Verification in the Digital Age (Use this code, 14JET100, to enroll in either of these NewsU courses for free.)

– Trauma Awareness: What Every Journalist Needs to Know

The following Webinars are also available for free replays:

How to Keep Misinformation from Spreading

–The New Ethics of Journalism: A Guide for the 21st Century Read more

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