Readers Perception Of The Use Of Photograph In Reinforcement Of Newspaper Message

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Readers Perception Of The Use Of Photograph In Reinforcement Of Newspaper Message


Every newspaper house today uses pictures to either complement stories or stand to give news independently. This practice has given photojournalism a critical place in the print media of mass communication. The study sought to content-analyses the use of pictures in two newspapers, punch. The aim was to among other things, ascertain the frequency of the use of photographs in the newspapers and identify the various types of photographs used in them. It also identified the sources of the pictures used in the newspapers. Out of a population of 105 editions of the newspapers cutting across all Tuesdays in the months of May, June and July 2014, 26 editions were studied using purposive sampling method. Coding sheet was used to analyse the newspaper photos. It was found out the Punch used photographs in all the pages of the editions; and the aware pictures dominated the newspapers with 64% while the candid pictures followed with 21% and the semi-aware picture 15%. Most of the pictures were relevant to the stories, but the Graphic newspapers had more of negative pictures (75%), than Punch with 25%. Most of the pictures (60.6%) used were sourced from photojournalists as against other sources. Based on the findings, it was concluded that the newspapers had adopted extensive use of pictures in news reporting. I recommended that newspapers should give prominence to the use of candid pictures as it is capable of showing the reader the action in the event and story without any pretence as is often the case with aware photographs. Since pictures play significant roles in complementing newspaper stories, print media houses should sustain their usage with modern professional touch to keep readers glued to the print contents.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Photography has been utilized across a wide range of print in newspapers, magazines and other forms of media such as in advertising and commercial, video and film-making, fine art photography, portraiture and journalistic form. Photography image plays a very significant role in our daily lives. It‟s apparent that photographic images are widely used as the main medium in presentation such as billboard advertisements, illustrated magazines, newspapers, television and also the Internet.

No branch of journalism requires so much knowledge and skill than picture reporting. The industrial revolution played a significant role in the development of press photography according to Gelnshain, (2002,p.12), the first book with lithographic illustration (pictures) appeared in 1840. The photographs were selected on the basis of the criteria of in testing subjects, which stabilizes presentation. After this pioneering indeed, two publications, London labour and the London poor, appeared in British critical study. the use of photographs as a graphical presentation started with books, according to Peter (2009.p,6) the application of this experience in periodical came; surprisingly fast in May, 1842. This was when Herbet founded the famous illustrated London news. The publication relied heavily on pictorial information.

According to Mustaffa (2011,p.97), every image delivers its message with different purposes such as to inform, educate, promote, entertain and persuade. Images are extensively deployed and employed for a variety of purposes and intended effects in a wide range of communication and leisure industries. Mustaffa also stated that the significance of photography has to be considered within two main stands. The first is the nature of photography as realistic forms of representation and the second is its representation that‟s similar to the linguistic analogy, with its own codes and conventions or as mirror representation or interpretation, in another words, the reproduction copying of object or character appears in the photograph represent reality (similar) and truly experience.

In winning the hearts of voters, photographic images are used as a technique of mass persuasion in any political campaigns, especially in print media such as newspapers, as it is one of the most popular methods used in delivering their agendas and also to catch the audience‟s attention. Photographic images that are displayed in newspapers can influence the audience’s emotions more effectively apart from text materials that leave them in a more rational, logical and liner pathway of thought (Joffes, 2008). Elsewhere, Lester (2003,p.234) has his own view and he describes that visual images are a powerful form of communication as they stimulate both intellectual and emotional responses.

According to Anderson (2014,p.140) Photojournalism is an arm of journalism that uses images to tell stories and report events. It is different from other forms of photography such as commercial, Architecture and industrial photography. This could be seen in its adherence to certain journalism norms like News, Timeliness Objectivity, fairness and accurate representation of the events.

Photojournalism involves the use of camera to record events as they happen. Like a news reporter, a photojournalist is a reporter but he or she writes with camera and disseminates news events through images. Photojournalists use pictures to tell stories interpret event and communicate their feelings about the society as Journalists hoping for a better society (Harding, 2012).

The advent of photographs mechanically printed into newspapers opened up market for press photography. Pictures were mostly taken for their action and content rather than any aesthetic consideration. Today, they are used in the newspapers for different reasons. The other factor was the introduction, by George Eastman, of small cameras in use at that time. Thus, convenient cameras gave photojournalists the freedom to record news events easily and quickly. The technological advancement enabled them to also take pictures which were previously impossible to take such as night and moving images. One of the foremost photojournalist was a Frenchman, Henri Cartier –Bresson, who from 1930 to 2004 worked to document what he called the “decisive moment”. Cartier-Bresson believed that the dynamics in any given situation eventually reach a peak, at which a photographer will capture the most powerful image possible.

Photojournalists have become visual interpreters, using their cameras and knowledge to bring readers a feeling of what an event was really like. Meanwhile, in the past, the photojournalist depended on artists to draw replicas of his photograph, which was later reproduced by an engraver into a Zinc plate, (Aliagan, 2006). The plate was then printed on a Hoe rotary press. Due to the long process, several days passed before these line-drawn renderings of photographs appeared on the front-page of the newspaper.

The growth of photography and photojournalism can be traced to two major factors that occurred near the end of the 19th century. The first is the technical innovation. This includes the invention of roll film, smaller cameras, faster lens and the perfection of the half tone process of printing photographs as a series of light and dark dots which allowed newspaper publishers to reproduce photographs quickly and inexpensively.

Photographs in Journalism inform, educate and enlighten readers about current issues and also reflect on the past as well. Photographs in Newspaper enhance the credibility of the stories. As they depict reality, they also furnish evidence to show the authenticity of a news story or give proof of an event that occurred. Its aesthetic values enable a photograph to serve as a tool to attract reader’s attention and break the monotony of news content. Thus, photographs enhance and beautify the pages of a newspaper (Gervais, 2005). Beyond the active construction in the creation of the image in front of the camera, photo editing in programs like Adobe photoshop are almost roundly rejected by ethics in photojournalism. This issue can be debated, but standard photo post-production elements such as smoothing out wrinkles on a person’s face, enhancing the colors of a location, or changing the contrast could all be considered clear violations of ethics in photojournalism. There have been many major cases in recent years of photojournalists being let go from major publications for the most minor alterations during photo editing. An example of this could be a color alteration to a photo where the sky color could be changed. This change in sky color could indicate or diminish the appearance of pollution, it could change the interpretation of the season, and it could even shift the perspective of the subjects (Bose, 2002). All of these changes would be the anti-thesis of the structure of the photojournalist project and would violate it on a critical level. Photo editing can be used in certain situations, but it should remain incredibly minor if it wants to fit the strict ethical standards that have been associated with photojournalism.

A photograph in Newspaper speaks more than a thousand words. No formal education is required to understand a picture. Photographs are therefore able to break through literacy barrier to effectively communicate a message. It is a universal language.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

In newspaper photographs are suppose to draw a reader’s attention and communicate messages, but this days the reverse is the case most photograph in newspaper does not really pass messages, this research seeks to address the problem of the inefficiency of Newspapers to use News Pictures that effectively communicate a message or tell a story. On that note the problem that necessitated this study is: What are reader’s perceptions of the use of photograph in reinforcement of newspapers message.

1.3 Objective of the Study

  1. To investigate how news pictures are used in newspaper.
  2. To examine if photographs serve the function of information dissemination in newspaper.
  3. How frequent do you see pictures in the Punch newspaper
  4. To identify the various types of photographs used in newspaper
  5. How photographs help to stir the emotions about certain event or person.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. Do the Punch newspaper use picture in reporting news?
  2. Do photographs serve the function of information dissemination in newspaper?
  3. Do you find pictures in Punch newspaper and how often?
  4. What are the kind of photograph used in Punch newspaper?
  5. To what extent do photographs stir emotions about certain event or person

1.5 Scope of the Study

This study is designed to critically examine readers’ perception of the use of photograph in reinforcement of newspaper message, with particular reference to Punch newspaper. The study is narrowed to Auchi community in Etsako West L.G.A of Edo State in order to examine reader’s perception, Auchi was however chosen because of proximity to place of study.

Chapter Five

Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusions

The place of photographs in journalism cannot be overemphasized as it could be said to be the only aspect of journalism that breaks the barrier of illiteracy. However, the act of reporting news with photographs needs to be professionally done so that the media house will not be found guilty of misinformation. A well used picture in a newspaper can make the news. So also, a badly used picture can mar the whole story and the newspaper in general.

The following conclusions were reached based on the findings of the study:

  1. The newspapers make use of photographs on the front, back and inside pages.
  2. The newspapers make use of more pictures on the inside pages.
  3. Punch newspapers make use of more pictures than the Other sampled newspapers due to the fact that Punch has more pages than the Other sampled newspapers.
  4. The selected newspapers gave prominence to the use of aware pictures as against candid pictures which is factual, real, natural, and objective.
  5. The selected newspapers do not use more of the type of pictures that give the viewer a sense of reality and objectivity in the news story (candid).
  6. The selected newspapers make use of more pictures that are relevant to the story than the pictures that are not relevant to the story.
  7. The Other sampled has the highest number of negative picture.
  8. The newspapers get more of their pictures from the photojournalists.

5.2 Recommendations

The following recommendations became imperative, gauging from the findings:

  1. The media house should appropriately train their photojournalists in line with the requirements of photojournalism and the journalists in turn should have sense of responsibility and professionalism in quest of their duty.
  2. Other sampled newspapers should place their independent pictures in such a way that it will not contradict the news stories placed around it.
  3. The newspapers should give prominence to the use of candid pictures as it is capable of showing the reader the action in the event and story.
  4. Other sampled newspapers sustain the reporting of more local news than foreign news as this will go a long way in reducing the level of internet pictures used in the newspaper.

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