Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dave's not here, man

Partial credit where it's due: The cutline goes with the story (one of the bills in question would let you make or sell brownies with your medical marijuana). It just doesn't have anything to do with the picture -- which, in turn, doesn't have anything to do with the story.

If the point was just to sop up some of the gray space left over when the obits came in short (hey, it happens), I'd rather see a mug of one of the people who testified. Or maybe a box of brownie mix. Or maybe the cover of "Dark Side of the Moon." But the random pot shot doesn't create a happy image of the future of visual journalism.

There's actually more to this than meets the eye. What if, for example, your audience remembers the details of a story better with a real illustration -- the face of someone who speaks in the story -- than with a generic illustration (a stock shot of a doctor and a patient for a story about health insurance)? Or if people who get their news from social media and "the Internet" perform differently on that test than people who get their news from traditional media? When in doubt, illustrate for meaning -- not just to liven up the page.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing is, though, the cutline wouldn't make any sense if the picture didn't explicitly signal "marijuana." Brownies, afaik, are already legal (even in Michigan). So a cutline about legalizing brownies under a photo of a box of brownie mix would kind of miss the point of the story.

3:23 PM, March 12, 2014  

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