Visual News Reporting Improves Journalism

In my opinion journalism is definitely changing and probably for the better. Journalism is increasingly becoming more visual and more multi-sensory. I believe that this increases accessibility and understanding of news further allowing journalism to fulfil its role as a tool to keep the public informed.
Throughout history journalism and news reporting have been constantly changing with (almost) every new invention that enables the spread of news. The invention of the printing press, cameras, the internet, smart phones and social media platforms have all had (and continue to have) a profound effect on journalism. Saggin (2016), Caple (2013) and Cinque (2015) all agree that with the rapid improvement of digital technology within the last couple of centuries the media industry have undergone massive changes. Caple describes how with the improvement in technology news (in all its formats) have and continue to have visuals dominating news stories.
I believe that visually dominated news stories has and will continue to improve journalism. Visual storytelling is more engaging and easier to understand, especially the more multi-sensory it is. The saying ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ is true for news photographs as they can explain the story quicker than, sometimes, better than or easier than written words can. Saggin explains in his book how photos ‘make us think and invoke emotions’ (2016, p. 13). The saying ‘Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand’, also applies here since the more involved people are (whether emotionally or physically, directly or indirectly etc.) in a news story the more likely they’ll understand it. The more senses (e.g. sight, taste, touch, smell, hearing, etc.) that are involved when understanding a news story the better understood the story will be. If more people are able to understand the news then that should equal a more informed public that can make informed decisions.
There are some disadvantages to the increase in visual journalism. For example multi-skilled journalists are needed (Saggin, 2016) and those that aren’t may either lose their jobs or be unable to get jobs. People may spend less time doing in depth analysis of news if it is all or mostly visual. There will of course continue to be misconceptions around what images mean, but I believe they still have a greater accessibility than the written word. Overall, in my opinion, the advantages to visual journalism far out weigh the disadvantages and it is my hope that journalism continues to improve.
• Saggin, G 2016, You, the citizen photographer : telling visual stories, Strictly Literacy, Scarborough, Queensland, Australia.
• Cinque, T, 2015, ‘What is the media, and is digital media ‘new’?’, ‘Subtext and mass media’ Communication, digital media + everyday life, Australia : Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria, 8-24
• Caple, H 2013, Photojournalism : a social semiotic approach, Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire

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