January 27, 2010

Ink for needless art

One of our pet-peeves while working in radio news years ago was the gratuitous use of what we called “actualities” -- small snippets of sound, or comments by newsmakers or observers.

When they really added substance to a story, and they often did, such devices were invaluable. But using an actuality just for the sake of using an actuality was – and is -- sloppy. It adds nothing to the story.

Such is the case with unnecessary “art” for daily newspapers and other print media.

I was reminded of this yesterday (1/26/10) when the Rapid City Journal ran a photograph of Chris Nelson, South Dakota Secretary of State. It was attached to a short story in which Nelson reminded candidates, political parties and others, that the deadline for campaign finance reports is just around the corner. The story was likely a routine press release out of Nelson’s office. Certainly not a big story, but probably worth some ink. But Journal editors could have done without the photograph.

Is it important that I know what this guy looks like? If so, I could take a peek at any of the 100+ photos of him that the Journal has used over the past few years (Okay, okay, I didn't really count them all).

I’ve never met Chris Nelson, but I suspect he’s doing a pretty good job as Secretary of State, based upon what I’ve heard and read.

Oh, yes, did I mention he’s running for Congress? Now that’s the Chris Nelson story that deserved an accompanying photo!

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