On Tuesday, the National Press Photographers Association released the results of an eyetracking study of 200 images, half by professional photojournalists and half by amateurs. Sara Quinn, Poynter affiliate faculty, wrote that the study was conducted last May at the University of Minnesota with 52 people who fell into two demographics — 18 to 30 and 45 to 60.
Can people differentiate between professional and amateur photographs? Yes, quite definitely. Study participants were able to tell whether a photograph was made by a professional or an amateur 90 percent of the time.
Some other details from the study:
— People were twice as likely to share a pro’s photo as they were user-generated content.
— People spent more time with photos that had longer captions.
— People have noticed that news organizations are using more UGC.
Without prompt from the researchers, a number of subjects said they had noticed recent moves in the news media to incorporate user-generated content.
“I think if I was running a newspaper, it would be important for me to have photographs that were quality, as opposed to photos that are just like, ‘Yeah, everyone just kind of send stuff in,’ ” said a 21-year-old male student.