AGSTAR Photojournalism

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What is the matter with the wire service photos?

In the last three years I have seen an increse in errors and mispellings and mistakenly transmited photos.

Just recently AFP had a photo elimination of a student protesting at the Sorbonne in Paris only to have it eliminated because the supposed student turned out to be a photojournalist, clowning around.

Caption corrections are a daily ocurrence. Names of people, cities and rivers are commonly spelled incorrectly. This is the basic stuff they teach you in journalism school.

My guess is that the increase in production and coverage wich digital technology allows has proportionately increased the mistakes in the service. Still when I worked for AP a caption correction was a terrible sin. Having a photo killed was the worst that could happen to your career. It was simply something that was not tolerated by the picture desk.

I can not imagine that this policy has changed much, but I see it everyday in the wires.

My other pet peave is why in the heck do the picture desks insist on sending us low quality TV grabs when the know that good quality images from their local shooters are on the way. In their rush to beat the competition they will send us any TV crap they can get thier hands on. If I am so hard up that I need to do a TV grab to fill in the gap, then guess what? I have several TV's and VCR and computers in my newsroom. I can do a TV grab myself if I am really, really desperate.

But what I will really wait for and expect, to the last minute, is a good print quality photo from the scene. I remember the first images to come out from the subway bombings in Spain several years ago where TV grabs. What the hell for? In a capital city in a major European country, you would think that photojournalist would be able to cover any such event with due speed. And true enough they did. We just waited several minutes after the news alert and we got the images that ran in our cover page and inside.

Most recently with the crash of the air force Galaxy cargo plane. The first 5 images at least, that where sent through the wires where TV grabs. Again, Why? And ggain, true enough, good images soon arrived.

The other thing that drives me crazy is that alternate crop stuff. Hey!! Picture desk editors, either teach yur shooters how to edit to begin with, or stop wasting our time! Any dodo in the newsroom can crop an image if they really need to. From the wire services I expect top quality images the first time. I would rather see a different good image on my monitor than a recropped view of a previous image. Who came up with such an idea? Please stop.

Wire service editors, please. In my newspaper I have three wire photo agencies. I get about 1500 images daily. If its a major event then the number goes up. I also have to go through our local production. The last thing I need is to be waiting for images and get crappy TV grabs. I would much rather get a program update on when you expect to get images from an event. That way I can reassure my bosses on when we will be getting the good stuff. I know you will send out good quality images. All I need to know is when.

well that my rant for the day


Blogger Ozarks Nick said...

Hi, came to your page through Mark Hancock's blog. Good stuff.

Just wanted to drop a short note that I agree with the wire stuff you wrote about.

I was just remarking to myself the other day while going through the wire. I forget how many photos I found that were just plain out of focus and/or exposed poorly.

What happened to the quality?

Anyway, have fun and be well.

8:00 AM  

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