Bad Journalism + Biased Editor = The Gray News

Saturday, September 16, 2006

News judgment: photos

Why does the Gray News put photos of animals that have nothing to do with stories in the paper? Because they have poor photojournalism judgment. And they don't go out to get the news. Instead, they use a long lens to snap whatever wildlife hops in front of the camera whilst sitting on a lawn chair.

At Fullerton, the Communication Department cites this definition of news: "In 1946, the Hutchins Commission came out with a definition of news that still applies today: A truthful, comprehensive, and intelligent account of the day's events in a context which gives them meaning."

Photos are supposed to give meaning to the news as presented. Wikipedia says that a good journalistic photo is supposed to have three criteria:

Timeliness - the images have meaning in the context of a published chronological record of events.
Objectivity - the situation implied by the images is a fair and accurate representation of the events they depict.
Narrative - the images combine with other news elements, to inform and give insight to the viewer or reader.

This week's large-format photo depiction of a butterfly does not illustrate a particular news event nor was it combined with other news elements elsewhere in the paper. Same is true of the chipmunk the week before. Even more perplexing, the Gray News doesn't have the money to pay for color photos, and yet they pick a photo of a colorful butterfly to put on the cover. If they are going to choose non-news photos in black and white, at least they should choose a photo that doesn't lose all of its remaining interest, visual beauty, when depicted in gray tones.

The photos' placement on the front page uses valuable news space for something that is not news, but rather, a nature essay. If the Gray News wants to be a duplicate of the Friends of the Wildlife Park newsletter, it should change its name. Otherwise, the Gray News self-described photojournalist Nathan Tsukroff should go out and take some pictures of news.

To compare, here are some examples of photojournalistic choices other local papers presented this week. In Biasbuster's opinion, these photos pass the three-criteria test of Timeliness, Objectivity, and Narrative.

The Forecaster: photo by Sandra Hrasdzira, goes with education story by Peter Smith "Portland West scoops out the sugar for back-to-schoolers"

Lakes Region Weekly, Photo By Rich Obrey, goes with story by TC Nguyen, "One year later: 93 percent of school population deem School Resource Officer a success"

In contrast, here is what the Gray News chose to present as news:

"This butterfly will fly off soon." (Not the actual Gray News photo but a similar one from Websters Dictionary online)

"Look, this chipmunk is cute!"(Not the actual Gray News photo but from University of Chicago Library)

Nature? Definitely. News? No. The Gray News should change its name to the Gray Nature Newsletter.


  • Au contraire.

    I am relieved to know that the chipmunks and butterflies have not fled our small town.

    Phew! I was worried. the Monument has not covered one chipmunk story or butterfly story in ages.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:12 AM  

  • True, BUT! rembember, The Monument covered Arturus the Bear and Lawrence the Eagle. The Monument thinks big. The Gray News covers the small and insignificant. But I agree, it's something to know the bugs haven't left town.

    By Blogger BiasBuster, at 6:19 AM  

  • After reading the opinion column I am convinced Ray is deliberately misleading people. His sheep will believe without finding out the truth on their own. Let’s have a contest. Who can find the most mistakes in the Gray News.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:22 AM  

  • the key is just getting the most people to the polls. So it really turns into a popularity contest.

    Ray has an advantage in that he has a bully pulpit. But he also has a disadvantage, because only the elderly and fringe people take him seriously.

    Really. Think about it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:34 PM  

  • I'm completely amazed that ANYONE can take Ray Clark seriously!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:54 PM  

  • Hey, Ray, you can get a great picture of Moles on my lawn!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:43 PM  

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