Friday, March 20, 2009

Thanks, AP!

You don't have to do a lot to make an AP cutline better -- but you do have to do something. Sometimes you start by assuming that if the readers brought the paper in without getting run over, or turned on the computer without electrocuting themselves, they don't need to be told Obama's on the left.



Anonymous Andy Bechtel said...

This arrives just in time for a class discussion on cutlines. Thanks.

10:20 AM, March 20, 2009  
Blogger Brian Cubbison said...

My theory is that AP writes the cutlines for the archives, not for newspapers, and expects editors to rewrite them in the context of the news.

10:27 AM, March 20, 2009  
Blogger fev said...

Brian: That's how I usually explain it in class, at least when it comes to the complete dates; the archivist/librarian in 10 years will need to know "Thursday, March 19, 2009," but our style is to write "Thursday." But I still have a nice collection of "President Bush, left, with his wife Laura, right, gestures as he points at ..."

Generally, I'm concerned that the art of writing cutlines that complement the rest of the display type and explain the parts of the photo that you _don't_ see has been more or less abandoned, for very understandable economic reasons. Any observations on how that craft is faring in newsrooms today are welcome.

10:56 AM, March 20, 2009  
OpenID q-pheevr said...

At least they didn't write "President Barack Obama, left, appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno with Jay Leno, right," which is what one would be honour-bound to do if one assumed that the archivist wanted both figures explicitly identified by position and the full name of the television program.

1:36 PM, March 20, 2009  
Anonymous M.C. said...

I think Brian's theory about writing for archives makes sense. There's also the question of how much of the program the photog saw or how much of the story he read. (Knowing some of either may have meant he or she could include new information.)

Yes, it's obvious the president is one the left. I'd say, though. that many people who write captions for newspapers don't print the AP suggested cutline; they use these "canned" captions as jumping off points.

6:48 PM, March 20, 2009  

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