Visual journalism


‘I can’t ever unsee that:’ Which unforgettable moments should a journalist choose to cover?

A version of this presentation opened the 11th annual Poynter-Kent State University Media Ethics Workshop. The subject of this year’s workshop, held on Sept. 17, was Journalism and Trauma. 

Why are we here today?

We’re here today because the body of a 3-year-old Syrian child washed ashore on a Turkish beach, and journalists had to decide what to do with the photographs.

We’re here today because a Roanoke TV reporter and photographer were shot to death while reporting live during the station’s morning show, and journalists had to decide what to do with the video.

We’re here today because a bomb killed 20 people during rush hour outside a Bangkok shrine, and journalists had to decide what to do with live-streamed video of the carnage. Read more


How to write great captions for your photos

caption-natgeoNational Geographic magazine’s Managing Editor David Brindley stopped by Poynter last week to give a Webinar on Writing Effective Photo Captions. Given the recent eye tracking study that showed people spend a lot of time reading photo captions, we asked Brindley to give us his top tips. (A video of this conversation is below.)

Get more information

Naturally, National Geographic puts a lot of emphasis on photo captioning, but it’s interesting to note that they have full-time staff dedicated to the task.

Brindley says photo captioners will interview the photographers and photo editors; they’ll even talk to people in the photo. If the image is of nature or an animal, they will talk to an expert in the field and get information on what is going on in the background. Read more

1 Comment

‘The audience is going to demand it’: Why good visuals matter

Kainaz Amaria and Imaeyen Ibanga are the type of extroverted, vibrant people who can win over a room within minutes. But they find it frustrating when they and their visual colleagues aren’t included in the room at all, especially as editorial decisions are being made.

Amaria, NPR’s picture editor, and Ibanga, a multi-platform producer at NBC News, were both part of the ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. Like their counterparts, they had never met before their week at Poynter, but had no shortage of topics to relate on.

Partway through the leadership week, the women sat together for a short conversation about why good visuals are so important for news coverage.

The transcript has been edited for length and clarity; a video of a portion of their conversation is at the bottom of the page. Read more


Photojournalism ethics needs a reexamination

The latest in the world of photojournalism contest ethics and photo sleuthing took another turn yesterday with World Press Photos’ rescinding a first-place award after disqualifying 22 percent of the entries that had made the penultimate round.

Amid controversy, World Press Photo announced yesterday that based on its investigation, it is withdrawing the controversial “Dark Heart of Europe” award presented to Giovanni Troilo. Troilo, an Italian independent photographer, had received the award for his 10-photograph series depicting the gritty Charleroi city of Belgium in this year’s WPP Contemporary Issues Story category.

The 58th Annual World Press Photo competition’s organizers previously disclosed that 22 percent of the finalists were disqualified due to excessive post processing, or digital manipulation.

“It seems some photographers can’t resist the temptation to aesthetically enhance their images during post-processing either by removing small details to ‘clean up’ an image, or sometimes by excessive toning that constitutes a material change to the image. Read more

1 Comment

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. Read more


Tips for Storytellers: Creating an online portfolio

The key to getting a great job or internship is showing what you can do. An online portfolio is the new norm for a crucial first impression. Here are a few ideas, part of a series of graphics with tips for storytellers. Next Friday: How to sharpen your personal brand with social media.

Poynter Quinn-fo-graphics: Tips for online portfolios

For a PDF: Poynter Quinn-fo-graphics: Tips for creating an online portfolio

Related: How to make photos better | How to polish your writing | How to make the most of your tweets | How to get your video right Read more


With ‘Shark and Minnow,’ New York Times tried to keep readers scrolling

Scroll down the page on “A Game of Shark and Minnow,” Jeff Himmelman’s New York Times Magazine story about a disputed region in the South China Sea, and you may notice something the story doesn’t ask you to do: Stop.

That was the whole idea, Times Associate Managing Editor Steven Duenes, who directs the Times’ graphics, says in a phone call with Poynter. The crew that worked the most on the presentation — Mike Bostock, Shan Carter, Xaquín G.V. and Nancy Donaldson — were trying to marry Himmelman’s story and Ashley Gilbertson’s photographs and videos in a way that felt “more like what the normal experience of the Web is: The users’ ability to scroll through a a series of images, to have the images do the explanatory work.”

You’re not stopping for three minutes to watch a video, Duenes said. Read more

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 8.26.47 AM

Why rainbow colors aren’t the best option for data visualizations

Data visualizations are beautiful, exciting ways to tell stories. But you have to choose carefully in designing a map or chart, and one of the biggest mistakes is misusing rainbow colors.

Rainbow color schemes — also called spectral color schemes — are frequent choices for visualizing data, both because they look bold and exciting and because they’re the default for many visualization software tools. But they usually do more harm than good. Detecting the colors at all is a problem for more readers than you might guess, and the rest of the audience will find it easier to understand the visualization if it’s presented with a different palette.

Rainbow color schemes are “almost always the wrong choice,” Anthony C. Robinson, geography professor at Pennsylvia State University, wrote in an online class on Coursera, which taught students how to use geospatial technologies to map data. Read more

1 Comment

Twitter research shows how multimedia increases engagement

To update an old saying for the Twitter era: A picture is worth a thousand characters.

Research by Twitter shows that tweets that include a photo or video receive 3 to 4 times more engagement (retweets, replies, etc.) than those that don’t. Read more


Use of generic photos can be dangerous for illustrating news stories

Maybe you have a Web CMS that requires an image to be associated with some stories. Maybe you just need some kind of image, any image, to color an otherwise gray slate of text.

Whatever the reason, many news websites make use of generic images — either purchased stock images or reused file photos — to illustrate articles.

Sometimes it’s pretty obvious that such an image is a posed stock photo. That picture of a cat lounging in fancy clothes with a gold chain, hundred-dollar bills and caviar is probably not going to be mistaken for a documentary news photo.

But others, like a gun or crime-scene tape, can be ambiguous when placed in a related news story.

That’s a problem ABC 17 in Columbia, Mo., has had for the last few years. Read more

1 Comment
Page 1 of 812345678