“A photo tells 1,000 words”, so goes a popular journalism saying. How many words, then do 10 or more photos tell? Photos present more reality of what you as a journalist are reporting or telling your audience members and every newspaper will tell you photos are more popular than their text content.
But because of space limitations, many newspapers use only one or a few more photos in their prints to illustrate the issue or event they are reporting about. Yet their photo journalists take (or should) many photos at events and during reporting interviews. While the newspapers cannot understandably always present many photos in their prints, they can always use many photos in their online publications if the series of photos taken better illustrate the story being told.
As I start my series commenting on online journalism and communications in Uganda, I’m beginning with the impression I got early today about The New Vision’s improved use of their photo journalism online.
They are now consistently making photo slideshows for big stories that are better told through many photos, like the case of the Sudan Referendum. If you forgive the quality of some of the photos in this slideshow, you will be impressed by the big number of photos they bring to the audience about the South Sudan voting process in this plebiscite, and the fact that each photo has a caption below it.
The slideshow navigation is also great, with numbering for each photo, previous and next buttons to guide the reader at each side of the photo displayed, as well as start and end buttons. This for me shows great effort by the New Vision in thinking beyond being a newspaper to deliver information in the best media possible. I just hope they can go on improving and become a true multimedia communicator, taking full advantage of the online platforms to deliver news and information in multimedia ways.
While their use of slideshow is commendable, I should state that the slideshow could have been better done. For example it might have been better to show the slideshow within the news website so that it doesn’t feel lonely for the person viewing it as there is no other content on the page. Where do you expect readers to go after going through the slideshow, or getting bored? Presenting your multimedia content like photo slideshow within you website helps readers go to other website sections of interest, in addition to marketing your other content on offer. I also expected to see a pointer of the other such slideshows that they have done but I didn’t see any.
Eh! I alluded to the New Vision slideshow as multimedia content. Yes, because it mixes text and photos, but a truly multimedia story would have included some more elements. For example, adding audio to make it a sound slide or audio photo slide. While images can show the numbers, excitement, and condition, the audio would bring out more emotion (and thus deliver more meaning to audience members) of what these people we are seeing feel about what they are doing. Audio recorders are fairly affordable (you can get a good one for 100,000UGX), and most digital cameras can record audio, video in addition to taking pictures.
I have not emphasized adding videos (while strongly recommended) because we are talking about photos today, and also the progression from text only articles or one badly implemented photo in most online news items as The New Vision is doing deserves commendation.
I also noticed the New Vision has started better aligning of their photos within the content as this example shows. Those who have been reading their content online know how bad their online photo implementation has been. Actually, I noticed today that the health and beauty section is well designed both at featuring level and the real article display level.
I have over the past two years been wondering why The New Vision (and other online publishers) continue to publish unaligned images and graphics or only centered ones, even when they clearly have good designers. This is not good blending of text and content, just as this isn’t. It is so easy to align left or right and I’m sure every web designer should know how.
Just as you ensure the printed newspaper article is well designed and aligned, so should the online story. Many CMS (content management system) platforms offer simpler ways of helping you align your images and graphics, and you too can design it into your template(s).
I’m sure whoever read this story would have liked to see more photos of Joseph Ntensibe’s art instead of the one photo presented un-aligned. A photo slideshow would do great for a story about art, weddings, launches and public rallies among others. So if the New Vision can always think of what media best tells a particular story, they will become a better online media.
If you would like me to review any particular item or section of your website or blog so that we prompt a discussion on how we can make it better, email me gb[@]geraldbusinge.com or just add a comment or question below.
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