ResponseSource Blog

How important are images to journalists?

By Vanessa McGreevy

12th October 2016

How important are images to journalists? We can’t ask every journalist in the country, but we do hear from a sizeable chunk of them every day through our Journalist Enquiry Service. We looked at the requests sent on 22 August 2016 (an unusually quiet day). Out of 114 enquiries, 32 specifically mentioned images, photoshoots, filming or requested opportunities to create their own pictures. That figure excludes requests where images are implied – interviews and product reviews are all likely to have several photos in the final story.

For a broader picture I did a quick and highly unscientific analysis of a year’s worth of journalist enquiries – 27094 enquiries. Here’s the frequency of a few image-related keywords from those requests.

Image-related keywords from journalist requests

  • Hi-res (or variations) – 474 mentions
  • Low-res (or variations) appeared – 153
  • Image, images or imagery – 3941
  • Pics or pictures – 1006
  • Photos – 564
  • File transfer services – 32 mentions of Dropbox, 29 of WeTransfer – but interestingly many of these were in conjunction with “please send low res images, not WeTransfer/Dropbox”
  • Cutout or cut-out – 208
  • Headshot – 151
  • Photographer mentioned 104 times (photography brought up a number of results which were enquiries about photography as a subject)
  • 771 mentions of shoot/shooting/photoshoot (obviously some of these were “shoot me over something” but most of them were “we’ll need you / your products / access to your venue/premises for a shoot”)

That’s not a very comprehensive list though, is it?

True – in compiling that list we couldn’t pick up all words like snaps, mugshots, graphics, gallery, visuals – journalists are after all paid for their language skills.  Mentions of filming or video were also left out, as were requests where images are implicit but not mentioned by name:

  •  “products that look like coconuts”
  • “wacky gadgets for a national press feature”
  • “home accessories with the theme of stripes”
  • “photogenic” case study requests

What to do next?

So, we’ve established that Journalist Enquiry Service users often need images as well as information and interviewee. In our next post we’ll offer in-depth tips gathered from the enquiries we’ve examined and from speaking to some of our journalist users directly.

If you’ve got any questions or observations about images yourself, please let us know below. In the meantime here are a few brief guidelines to consider – tell us if you think we’ve got any wrong!

  • if the journalist asks for something specific, believe them – whether that’s low-res, hi-res, or no images at all
  • be wary of sending lots of large files unless you’re certain they’re wanted
  • familiarise yourself with their media outlet so you know what will suit
  • have a good range of different photos easily available for every product or person you hope to get coverage for
  • there are very few stories that can’t be helped by having images available, even if it’s just to help the journalist understand a product
  • Hi-res photos should be a minimum of 1MB, preferably 2MB, 300dpi, and jpg files are a good bet unless you’re asked for a different format. Don’t go too big – many journalists say over 3MB is excessive. If you’re not familiar with how digital images translate to print, Macworld has a good guide here:

The images above are from ResponseSource newsrooms. For more information on each:

‘Dementia Dog’ scheme in Scotland given £300,000 funding boost

PacaPod’s Resourceful New Spring Summer Range

FishSpy Stream and record live underwater video direct to your mobile device


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