PIC TIPS: Three ways you can be your own newspaper picture editor and use better pics online


Just last week while delivering training something struck me that had been right under my nose.

You do not need a picture editor on the internet. The thought had never occurred to me before.

A picture editor when I was a journalist was the gatekeeper who decided what image went where. They could pick a page one pic over an inside lead. Always, on the newspaper I worked on they were upright shots. Why? Because that’s the size of the hole on the page template. Always, they were people pictures. They were ‘tight, bright and upright.’ Portrait sized, with groups of smiling people with every piece of the picture busy. It’s an art.

News pictures are dying

A while back I carried out an audit for a council press office. The aim was to see what content worked across print, web, radio and TV in the city they served.  The result was surprising:

Half of pictures in the print edition were news pictures. Posed with a caption. But not a single one was used by the newspaper online. Police mugshots, CCTV stills, user generated content and library images were instead used.

With that in mind, the skill should be how to source your own images to attach to content that you post or send out. Once you’d send out an image with a caption aiming at the print edition. Now, send out a stock image to aim for their Facebook page.

Yet images remain powerful. So what do you do?

Sourcing your own images

I’ve written before about the amazing compfight that searches Flickr’s six billion images. Remember to search for creative commons pictures and you have images that you can re-use. Here is a list of alternative copyright free sites but be warned. Many are not searchable.

Sourcing your own image library

Flickr isn’t nearly as cool as Instagram and hasn’t been for years. But it is an effective place to upload and tag your images. And it costs about £30 a year for a Pro account. Make them public to save yourself the hassle of finding that image and sending it on.  Give them a creative commons licence to allow them to be re-used.

Sourcing residents images as user generated content

With sites like instagram growing like topsy, millions of images are posted across your area. Go onto Instagram yourself and approach people for permission to re-use an image on the website or elsewhere.

Picture credit: rpavich / Flickr 

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