A Picture's Worth

Good photographs or graphics are often the real reason a newspaper, magazine, or television station will use a story. As you can easily see by looking at newspapers and magazines today, print media rely more than ever before on visuals to help tell a story.

Photos of people doing things generally are the most effective. Limit the number of people in a picture to as few as possible. Identify the subjects when the picture is taken.

For each print, type a complete and accurate caption, double-checking the left-to-right identification of people, on a piece of paper. Tape the caption to the bottom edge of the picture so that it can be read while looking at the picture. Position the tape so that it is attached to the back of the photo, rather than the front. Don't simply tape the caption on the back of the photograph.

Don't write on the back of a photograph because it can show through on the picture side. If necessary, however, write very lightly with a grease pencil or soft lead pencil and only in the margin when possible.

Submit 5x7 or 8x10 glossy photographs or 35-mm color slides to newspapers and magazines. Television stations may use slides, but by far prefer videotape.

Include any charts, illustrations or diagrams with media material, even if they are not exactly right for the media. They will make a good starting point for artists at the newspapers, magazines or television stations. Surprisingly, radio science reporters also often like such visual material. The pictures help them understand the story better, and they may include some description of a particularly important visual in their broadcast.

Images transmitted or posted on the Internet should be in a standard format such as JPEG, with complete caption information.


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