Images in the news: They cut both ways

While iconic news photos can deliver powerful messages on important issues, they could also be misleading sometimes.

ANNIE
ANNIE
Jan 27 · 4 min read

Overall learning objective

Students will be able to develop a better understanding of how news photos are being made and chosen to be shown to the audience.

Power of images

In English, there is a phrase “Seeing is believing.” In Chinese, people say “眼見為實(眼见为实) — To see is to believe.”

Activity

  1. Show the following two video clips.
  2. Have students discuss what advantages photos and videos have in news reporting on top of the points addressed in the videos.

Key takeaways

In class, at least the following points should be addressed after the discussion. A news photo/video:

  • makes us feel like we are witnessing the news event.
  • focuses our attention on a crucial moment(s) in the event.
  • tends to stay longer in our memory, especially some iconic images of historical news events.
  • captures and displays the emotions of people in the news.
  • [video] enables us to hear the actual voices of the people in the news.

Gotcha journalism

News images are powerful storytelling tools that connect us together, but there are a lot of issues we need to be aware of at the same time.

Comparison of photo selection. China’s Global Times (left) and Japan’s Kyodo News (right).

Activity 1

  • Have students find some local examples of “gotcha” journalism (perhaps as a take-home assignment as this requires time)
  • When discussing the examples they bring in class, focus on what an ordinary news audience can do to understand the missing context surrounding the image/news event.

Activity 2

  • Divide the class into two groups. Protesters and photo/video journalists.
  • Choose a topic that is closely related to the students — something like deteriorating quality of food in student canteens.
  • “Protesters” prepare props and other materials for a march.
  • “Journalists” will be divided into subgroups and each group needs to decide what sort of media organization they work for (newspapers, TVs, online magazines, etc., with different target audiences).
  • Protesters march in the classroom (or outside), holding placards, shoting slogans, and demanding some actions.
  • Photo/video journalists take as many photos/videos from different angles, focusing on different people, objects, and actions.
  • After the march is over, journalist subgroups need to pick just one image, or 5-second video clip, that they will use to promote the story on social media.
  • All students then look at the photos/videos from different news outlets together and discuss potential issues including misrepresentation and dramatization.

Key takeaways

The following video is an edited version of our news literacy video series called Starpline. This particular episode summarizes the points above.

  • Old pictures, photos from different locations, video games, movie scenes, and other irrelevant images also circulate often as current news images.
  • Although news photos and videos are powerful, they show only a glimpse of what really happened, which can be misleading sometimes.
  • Photographers and videographers have the skills to dramatize the scene that could potentially misrepresent the news event as well.

Asian Network of News & Information Educators

A community to explore what’s essential in news education in Asia

Asian Network of News & Information Educators

We are all about experimental pedagogy. We know something is amiss in today’s information landscape but we don’t know what educational interventions would work effectively in our region until we try and measure.

ANNIE

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ANNIE

Official account of Asian Network of News & Information Educators

Asian Network of News & Information Educators

We are all about experimental pedagogy. We know something is amiss in today’s information landscape but we don’t know what educational interventions would work effectively in our region until we try and measure.