BBC News Online photography comes in for some stick

Link: Headless Zombie Bunny.

Hahahahah.. found this which made me laugh. The introduction says:
The BBC News website has some of the worst stock photo usage in the world. This is a daily log of some of the most awful photo choices.

In defence of my News colleagues, the images are often done by journalists who despite being trained in Photoshop usage, often don’t have either the time nor the skills to (re) illustrate a story properly, they are not full time picture editors. Having said that, they do illustrate some of the features terribly, often relying on spurious links pulled from the copy and the having to explain their choices in the caption. (Personally I think removing the safety net of a caption would force better image choices). However there’s some good one’s too, like this feature on taking pictures of the Pope lying in state. There’s also the excellent In Pictures section.

See, illustrating the big stories off the newswire’s is easy, as there’s often an accompanying image. It’s when you’ve got to illustrate abstract concepts again and again that corners are cut. Down turn in the housing market, taxes up, pensions down etc… a quick Google of pound coins and piggy bank show this.

But then imagine the uproar if we commissioned arty shots of pound coins every time we ran a finance story? Everyone uses generics, there’s one for football, we use it loads, it’s a ball in the back of a net, the TV weather people use it too watch out for it this weekend. Still, that’s no excuse for sloppy journalism, and that’s why proper digital picture editing is a skill. Not just dragging the first picture off the newswire’s and cropping it, but actually thinking about how to illustrate a story, and do it in 200×170 pixels.

And some of the competition’s not much better, making much more use of ‘say what you see’ imagery, Here’s an example from CNN I use to show people how not to do it. It’s a story about the US High court and internet porn law enforcement. So a picture of the High court, check. A computer as it’s on the internet right? Check. A badly done ‘no’ circle laid nicely over a pixelated image of a woman who’s not even in the buff….done. Or this example from The Times, bank of England, check, shares up/down line, check etc. etc.

Often newspapers, particularly the Independent and the Guardian’s G2, have full front page commissioned photography, it sets the tone, there’s bags of space to use, the eye having space to move around and take in the image. For example the Guardian today had a great crop of Gordon Brown being pointed at by just the for arm of Tony Blair right across the other side of a 8cm image, you kind of loose the effect when it’s around 300 pixels.

1 Response to “BBC News Online photography comes in for some stick”

  1. 1 Laughing Stock Trackback on May 20, 2005 at 8:40 am

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
April 2005

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