Last November we noticed the unfortunate usage of a stock image for a breaking news story on the Standard-Examiner’s website. Looks like it was just the start of a new trend. They are showing up every day on KSL.com, where the apparent decision to have a photo for every story is resulting in stock photos showing up on breaking news stories they have nothing to do with.
Police cars are a favorite:
As are ambulances and fire trucks:
This stock photograph, in all its tilted out of focus glory, pops up a lot:
Then there’s this stock photograph of police crime scene tape, taken who knows where:
These stock images mislead the reader into believing they are seeing the scene. News photographs are non-fiction. Photographs on a news site are supposed to be non-fiction. Illustrations and graphics are different, they deliver information. But illustrations and graphics should not look like photos. The stock images shown here mislead the reader into believing they were taken at the scene, and many are presented with captions that further mislead.
From the Deseret News:
and this (note the caption – that photo was not taken in a Riverton parking lot):
and this (note the caption – that photo was not taken “Saturday in Park City”):
(They don’t know where the killing, or the shooting (of the stock photo) took place.)
News outlets could achieve the same result in an ethical way by using graphics for spot news stories instead of stock photos. KUTV is doing it the right way with graphics like these, which convey information without misleading the reader:
Even in today’s difficult media climate, it’s important to remember there are ethical ways to achieve your goals. If you require an image on every story, do it in a way that shows respect for your readers as well as your own historic and important brand. These stock images have no place in breaking news journalism.
Got a screenshot that deserves to be seen? Submit it to Utah Photojournalism by clicking here