More Image Qualms

Posted by Megan
 
Big news has a strange effect on newsrooms all over the country: the already intense atmosphere is suddenly heightened to make severely caffienated journalists buzz with productivity. For me, as a picture editor, most of my energy is spent pouring over incoming images, and clicking "refresh" approximately five thousand times per minute, waiting for the kind of images that tell the story.
 
Today, however, we asked the same question we do every day: how best can we get the story across?
 
I looked through hundreds of images of police patrolling the airports, people waiting in enormous airport queues, exhausted passengers sprawled over their luggage, and UK officials giving press conferences.
 
We ended up deciding on three images. The first was an image we picked this morning, just as the story broke, which showed a policeman stationed next to an airport queue. Secondly, after more developments throughout the day, we swapped the image for one of a stern policeman standing directly below the ‘Welcome to Glasgow Airport’ sign and just next to a sign alerting passenger of security measures. Thirdly, after the story became more about the reportedly 400,000 stranded airline passengers, we used an image of people waiting in the clogged airport terminal.
 
Choosing imagery during stressful, important days like these is always a tough decision. As MSN photo editor, I’ve got to choose an image that accurately reflects the story, and the effect of that story on our audience. While today has produced some pretty standard imagery, the recent Middle East conflict has created some horrific and terrible pictures; the tough part is showing the gravity of the devastation without causing our readers undue discomfort. Furthermore, we must decipher between accurately portraying the situation, and overdramatizing or trivialising it.
 
The best example of this tough decision is the Week In Pictures, where dramatic news pictures are shown alongside colourful feature images. 
 
It is a major concern of news organisations all over the world, and we are no different. Sometimes dramatic images represent truth, and sometimes they seem to exploit the magnitude of the event.
 
So where would you draw the line? Let us know.
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