Overexposed

24 Jul

Quick, over to the online picture library to get the news angle on this photo:

An undated handout picture

Right

made available by the press service

Yes

of the civic chamber of the Russian Federation

Right

on chamber’s official website

OK

shows the ‘Right To Bear Weapons’ Public Organisation’s Board Chairman Maria Butina

the … what? Right

attending a rally to demand expansion of citizens’ rights

Right

in a Russian city

Right

In Russia.

Got it.

Maria Butina, 29, was arrested in the United States on suspicion of being engaged in conspiracy against the US and acting as an unregistered Russian agent.

Ah! I thought she looked familiar.

If copy-editors seem impatient for a piece of text to get to the point, there’s a reason. Although all journalists wrestle with the problem of time – the deadline – subs are the only ones who have to confront the problem of space. Everyone understands, of course, that there are only a set number of pages per day, but, from the reporter who’s been told “aim for 900” to the designer who’s been promised “the pictures will look good big”, that awareness is theoretical. It’s only when the reporter has filed 975 words and the designer likes the pictures so much that she’s shaved the length down to 850 that the problem becomes concrete: at which point the copy desk is left to sort it out.

Captions on a single-column picture may only be three or four words long: as short as the shortest headlines. And although all the information – source, provenance, location, copyright – included in a photo agency’s filing is important for the newsroom and needs to be recorded, there’s never space to include it.

Or at least, there isn’t in print. There’s no pressure on space on the web, though, which means some news websites – such as USA Today – can pipe the whole lot through automatically for customers to read every last word. This blog has previously worried about the fact that captions have a shorter route to publication than any other part of a newspaper, but nothing’s quite as direct as this:

You would think that, if you’re going to lead off with the provider of the photo rather than the subject of it, you could skip having to write a full photo credit too. But at least someone took out “in a Russian city in Russia”.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: