Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Will Media Use Your Photo?

Last week the Central Connecticut Valley Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America hosted a luncheon with top media executives who shared ideas on the shifting role of imagery in media.

Provide media with newsworthy images
For starters they all agreed social media has drastically altered how journalists operate. Outlets are under continual pressure to get out the news first and fast.  Which means accuracy of information often suffers.  We know Twitter can break news at lightning speed but spare a thought for the editors and producers who need to monitor and react to tweets and simultaneously check their accuracy in a breaking news story. 

Today devices abound.  Anyone with a smart phone now sees themselves as a photographer.  Which makes the job of traditional newspaper photographers and TV crews more difficult as they compete at media conferences and other events with amateurs jostling for the perfect pic snapped from their Androids or Iphones.  

Of course many outlets, especially smaller ones, capitalise on the smart phone trend and invite readers and viewers to share their imagery. After all it is just more grist to the continuing content mill. But only a foolish editor or producer would use something without due diligence.

In recent times most media outlets have evolved guidelines for absorbing user generated content into their coverage simply to keep up with the new wild, wild West where citizen reporters can scoop  news faster than gumshoe journalists.  

So the typical questions media outlets ask when offered content include: 
  • Firstly and most importantly: is it breaking news or otherwise newsworthy?
  • Can we verify where the information or imagery comes from? Who owns it?
  • Quality-wise can we use it?
  • Does the image 'have a verb'.  In other words does it tell a story, show something happening or someone reacting to something happening?
  • Can we use it freely or are there limitations?
  • Does it show children or other groups for whom explicit permissions are needed?
Content marketers want to see their imagery widely spread online and in traditional forums.  But before offering up something consider the media filters an editor or producer will apply before deciding to use it.


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