Which one of these images is more newsworthy?
Or this one?
They were both taken by Associated Press photographer Andrew Burton at an Occupy Wall Street protest last week, a protest that has been largely non-violent.
But it was the top photo that was splashed on the front page of newspapers over the weekend.
You are the editor: Which photo do you use?
"We've written several articles and run numerous photographs in the paper and online from Occupy Wall Street protests, Washington Post Managing Editor Liz Spayd told Salon.com. "The vast majority portrayed the animated but generally peaceful demonstrations you describe. The one we ran last Saturday was a powerful, vivid image of a protester clashing with a policeman. Of all the photographs we looked at that day, it was the most original and the most newsy. The cutline made clear there were only 15 protesters arrested, a small number given the total crowd. We remain highly interested in this movement and its potential political power in the future."
There's some speculation, apparently, that maybe the "tackling protester" was just falling. The photographer told Salon he doesn't know. He said he didn't see the moment he'd captured with his camera and doesn't know what happened.
Newsworthy? Photo #1 It has several of the attributes that define "newsworthy," specifically, conflict. It's also a great action shot.
What photo #2 offers is context.
In an ideal world, i would run both. If I had to choose, my editor's insticts say #1, if for no other reason than it is a compelling photo that may make more people read the copy.
If they do, and we have done our job, the context will be in there.
The news question (not the marketing question) question is, "Is either photo typical of the crowd?" I'd argue neither is. Although bland and not exciting, the news-appropriate photo to run is one that shows the size of the crowd and reflects the general make-up.
I'd run #1 just because I knew that geico caveman was up to no good.
From a mercenary point of view, #1 is going to bring the eyeballs to your page or site or newspaper. So even if its uncharacteristic, its going to be run. Every time.
Craig: If a photo is bland and unexciting, is it news? In this case, I would say "no."
The OWS movement is now a month old. The idea that it generates large crowds (and sometimes small crowds) is now well documented by the news media.
I would say that photo #1 does a better job of what is happening right now (another definition of news: timeliness). The headlines I have seen lately indicate greater tensions between protesters and city officials and police. This makes #1 the clear choice, even if it does not represent the "average" protester experience.