Teaching Journalists Where To Find Photos

Posted on 2/15/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

The Poynter Institute, headquartered in St. Petersburg, FL, is considered by many to be a global leader in journalism education. Poynter claims to be “the world’s leading instructor, innovator, convener and resource for anyone who aspires to engage and inform citizens in 21st Century democracies.”

In a recent article formatted as a conversation between two Poynter employees -- Kristen Hare and Ren LaForme -- the two took the position that it’s hard to get anyone to read an online article if it is not accompanied with an image. They say such articles “show up as boring texts blocks that few will see and even fewer will click through.”

So how should the next generation of professional journalists (the people Poynter is instructing) go about getting images? The authors acknowledged that digital journalists are often working with budgets that don’t allow for paying for visuals.

Their professional advice for writers is look for FREE PHOTOS.

LaForme recommends five sites where writers can find free images that he says, “are free of copyright issues and have a wide variety of topics and subjects available.” They are:
It appears the authors view photos as “eye candy” that may, or may not, have anything to do with what the “journalist” is writing. The important thing is to have something that will draw the reader in to read the writer’s text, regardless of its relevance. They recognize that such images may end up misleading. That, of course, is not what they are recommending, but if there is no information on the provenance of the image it may lead to an incorrect conclusion or understanding of the story.

Among the problems that could arise from using free pictures is that the people in these free pictures probably haven’t signed model releases. Thus, if the image in a way misrepresents or upsets the individual pictured it could lead to legal action.
LaForme and Hare recommend that journalist check the copyright notices, but that’s not always easy to do. They point out that sometimes the “File info” image data will provide additional information about the image, but noted “that can be faked.” Finally, they suggested that a visual search on Google Images or Tin Eye might turn up another copy of the image that might have more information about its provenance.

Who Needs Professional Photographers Anyway

Not surprisingly a number of photographer organizations and photographers who try to earn their living taking pictures commented on this story. The National Press Photographers Association  said, “The Poynter article dismissed and degraded the power of authentic visual journalism. It recommended that the solution to illustrating news stories was to find free stock images online via a handful of dubious photo sharing websites. The authors carelessly glossed over the potentially serious legal and ethical consequences of using such content.

“Using photographs from unverified sources erodes our credibility as truth-tellers”

The following are some of the other stories worth considering.

Resoucemagonline   http://resourcemagonline.com/2018/02/this-is-fking-ridiculous-poynter-awakens-sleeping-giant-after-promoting-free-photo-sharing-sites/85582/

Sue Morrow, picture editor    https://www.poynter.org/news/photo-editors-plea-lets-be-solution-based-instead-echo-chamber

Mark E. Johnson   https://www.poynter.org/news/article-about-free-images-contradicts-everything-i-hold-true-about-journalism

Copyright © 2018 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


  • Dale Wilson Posted Feb 15, 2018
    The last time I checked -about three minutes ago- the Pulitzer was still being awarded for "excellence" in photography.

    Poynter president Neil Brown writes in a follow up "Poynter does not have an editorial employee dedicated to visuals." Yet, their masthead pronounces "a global leader in journalism" and a little deeper exclaims " It is the world’s leading instructor, innovator, convener and resource for anyone who aspires to engage and inform citizens in 21st century democracies."

    How unfortunate for the reader of of the 21st century if this is how narrow sighted journalism has become.

    Perhaps Poynter should review their inhouse direction before expounding feeble defences. They are, after all, a global leader.

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