Is a Picture Really Worth A Thousand Words?

Visual reporting is quickly becoming a primary method of reporting especially with internet becoming our main source of news, but is a picture or a video all we need to give us the information a about a particular topic? I was personally moved by Florian Shulz’s video, “Visions of the Arctic” ( http://vimeo.com/12417612 ) . It conveyed a specific  tone and sense of personal connection that, I believe the written word alone cannot produce.

Similar to that was the Detroit Free Press’s video on the invasion of the  Asian Carp.(http://www.freep.com/article/20110717/NEWS06/307170001/With-video-truth-about-Asian-carp) In the video, you see, first hand the effects of the Asian Carp in different areas. To see the fish farmers talk about their personal experiences gives the video a certain tone and personality that the written word might not convey. However, this video was used in addition to the text.

Do you think that photos and other visuals can tell us things that written word cannot? Why or why not? What do you think is the future of visual storytelling in the news?

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7 Responses to “Is a Picture Really Worth A Thousand Words?”

  1. Words only can say so much, and what a picture can show in five seconds, may takes thousands of words to recreate. I believe that visual reporting is the best way to quickly appeal to an audience’s pathos, because within a few seconds, a reader can be drawn in and become emotionally involved. Isn’t that why Vietnam was such a big deal historically for the news and media, because videos of the horrific tragedy happening thousands of miles away could be shown in the comforts of any American’s home? Video storytelling is the future of news, and more and more news, especially articles that have a call to action component, will be told in this way. Do people agree? Is there news that would not benefit from visuals? What types of news stories or articles are best for visual storytelling?

  2. I definitely agree that sometimes a picture says more than written word ever could. The breathtaking images in the “visions of the arctic” video can’t, in my opinion be replaced with words and still hold so much beauty. With that being said, I am not a fan of video journalism in general. I would have been just as happy with pictures of the arctic creatures than I was with the video. My main issue with video journalism is that it makes noise. If I am on my laptop, chances are I am in public and do not necessarily have my headphones with me. If I do, I am probably listening to music and am not going to pause that to watch a video. Instead of plugging in my headphones, I skip the story, and it moves from being worth thousands of words to nothing. Articles like this Detroit Free Press one, in my opinion, did it right by including an article along with the video. This satisfies both me and those who love video articles. I’m wondering if other people avoid videos like me? Will there come a time where a lengthy article is not necessary after a video?

  3. Visual media engages the audience on a higher level then plain text. Instead of reading the words of the writers interpretation of a story, viewers can take in the story for themselves and draw on their own conclusions. In some ways, photo and video media can be less bias because it allows the audience to see the story for what it is, and not through the lens of the writer. These forms of media are undoubtedly the future of news reporting because of their ability to engage the audience on a higher level than text.

  4. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I think this chinese proverb is correct. Pictures and visuals can make any story more powerful to readers. When I read the news I often skim over articles, but by including pictures authors make it impossible for me and other readers to miss. Pictures are engaging and take a lot less time to show than if the author had to write out every detail of a person or scene they are describing. And even if an author does go through the trouble of writing out every detail still not everyone will have the same picture in their head. A picture leaves no room for imagination or interpretation and for reporting on different scenes or important people I think visual storytelling will be crucial in the future.

    Visual storytelling also allows for more of an audience. Much of our country today is illiterate in English, but everyone understands pictures. There are some cases though that visual storytelling can use editing to it’s advantage to take a side on something and cut/paste things together or leave important information out to create a bias depending on the topic. An example of this would be the daily show link we had to watch for last week (http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-june-16-2010/an-energy-independent-future?xrs=share_copy). That being said, however, written stories can have just as much of a bias depending on what the author’s opinion on the matter is.

    Overall, I do believe that in many cases, photos and visuals can tell us a lot that pictures can not and I think they will become an important part of storytelling in our future. I do not, however, think they should ever replace writing, but rather act as an aid.

  5. Taylor, yes! I’m like you, I avoid videos at times, too. The overarching problem for all of journalists does seem to be the inattentive audience! Either they only read the first few sentences or paragraphs, only look at the pictures (hopefully reading the caption, at least, to get a sense of what it is they’re actually looking at,) and/or they sometimes (like Taylor and me) won’t even watch the video! Honestly, I definitely had an “aw shucks” moment when I saw that the “Visions of the Arctic” movie was 9 minutes, and the time continued to feel like a burden even after I saw some of those beautiful story-telling pictures and clips…

    The bottom line for me is, I guess, that videos get the actual story across better because they put the audience members in the world both visually and audibly. They give the audience members a better concept of the world or story they’re trying to portray… but the battle journalism has to choose, I think, is WHAT will the audience member actually focus on. And I guess I agree with you guys, I think photo journalism (with good captions) is the answer.

  6. As a photographer of sorts, I totally agree that pictures can convey feelings that writing just cannot. I like to think that writing writes about emotion whereas visual story telling CAPTURES emotion. With that said, I don’t think stories can exist without some sort of prose. A picture that captures emotion and writing that talks about it need to work together to create a whole image of what is going on. So, while the visuals are of utmost importance, writing is equally important.

  7. Also, is the time zone set weird. all of our times are off

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