Wednesday, December 8, 2010

USAGE OF NEWS PICTURES IN NEWSPAPER: “A CONTENT ANALYSIS OF FRONT-PAGE PHOTOGRAPHS IN THE GUARDIAN AND THE PUNCH NEWSPAPER.”


ABSTRACT


This study is about photojournalism with focus on the use of News pictures in Nigerian Newspapers. Photojournalism is an important arm of Journalism that uses images to tell stories and report events. Thus, photojournalists interpret events and communicate news worthy messages through their photographs published in the newspaper.

The research method applied in this study is content analysis. The Guardian newspaper and the Punch newspaper published in June 2007 were used. Using the simple random sampling method 15 editions of these newspapers was each selected to analyze their front-page photographs.

Putting into consideration the message, News worthiness, space allocation, the pattern and diverse trend of coverage, the use of News pictures were studied. However, the findings showed that Nigerian Newspapers need to improve on the use of News pictures, especially the front-page photographs to communicate news worthy messages effectively.

CHAPTER ONE
1.1         INTRODUCTION
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.

1.2          BACKGROUND OF STUDY
To set the pace of this study, it is necessary to define the subject of discourse under scrutiny in order to understand the basis of their inception and the relevance they have to the research.

1.2.1    NEWSPAPER
Newspaper refers to a daily or weekly publication used to disseminate news to a mass audience. The Newspaper traces its roots to handwritten news sheet posted daily in the public market place of ancient Rome. However, the first printed newspaper, Ti-Pao, appeared in china during the Tang dynasty (AD 618-907). “Iwe Iroyin fun awon Egba ati Yoruba” was the first newspaper published in Nigeria by Reverend Henry Townsend, missionary in Abeokuta in 1859. 1 Subsequently, other newspapers were published by different people in the pre-colonial and post colonial era. Today, there are over 100 newspapers published either daily or weekly in Nigeria.

As a medium that furnish readers with News, information in the Newspaper is expressed through linguistic, typographic and graphic forms which are defined by the media organisation’s house style. This in its totality affects the way news are gathered and reported in the newspaper including the use of photographys on the front-page.

1.2.2    THE FRONT PAGE
The front-page is a well thought out extention of the values and themes that a Newspaper wants to communication to its target audience. It is often seen as the major selling point of the Newspaper because it attracts the potential readers to buy the paper and read further.

Readers enter the newspaper pages through large pictures and a headline, thus adding a visual element makes the stories more likely to be read. From a population of 857 daily newspapers with circulations of 10,000 and above 300 were selected in 2002 by Editor and Publisher International Year Book for a series of study on the Newspaper design trends.

From the findings, almost half of the newspapers run two photographs everyday on the front-page while others run three or more. However, 98 percent of those newspapers use a dominant photograph.

Editors choose front-page picture carefully to attract readers. The layout of the newspaper front-page, headline and photographs used are important factors that determine the level of attention given to the newspaper.

For example, the Frankfurt Allegemeine Zeituny, one of Germany’s leading daily newspapers published a colour photograph on its front-page for the first time on October 5th 2007, since its 58years of existence. This was part of an effort to create a modern layout that would make the traditionally sober-looking broadsheet fresher and more appealing to readers. 2

1.2.3    PHOTOGRAPHY AND PHOTOJOURNALISM
A photograph is a picture produced through the chemical action of light sensitive film, or as a Digital photography that records images on memory card and processed on the computer. The act of photography can be traced back to French inventor, Joseph Nicephore Nicepee, who was the first photographer to successfully make permanent images in 1826. Thirteen years later, another Frenchman, Louis Jacques Daguerre made photography more practical by fixing light images on silver-coated copper plates.

Photography was used to capture news worthy images soon after in the 1830s. English photographer, Roger Fenton, documented British troops during the Crimean War (1853-1856) in Europe, another Photographer, Mathew Brady Photographed battle scenes during the American Civil War (1861-1865).3 As at then, photography was an expensive and time consuming endeavour.

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.

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. 4

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. 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.

1.2.4    THE USE OF PHOTOGRAPHS IN THE NEWSPAPER
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.

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.

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.

This research will explore the use of front page photographs through a content analysis of two Nigerian Newspapers that represent different approaches to News presentation ideology and target different readership.



1.2.5    THE GUARDIAN AND THE PUNCH NEWSPAPER
The Guardian and the Punch newspapers were selected for this research because of their popularity, news coverage and wide circulation. Their content gives an accurate platform needed to analyse the subject of study.

The Guardian Newspaper was established in 1983 by Late Alex Ibru. With long history of editorial and political independence, the Newspaper is known for its unbiased dissemination of news. It is a liberal newspaper with great commitment to democracy and freedom in Nigeria.

The Punch newspaper is owned by Punch Nigeria Limited. The paper strives to promote and uphold the values of democracy and free enterprise through quality news dissemination.5 The newspaper is acclaimed to be the largest daily newspaper with the highest circulation in Nigeria. It was founded in 1977 by Late Chief James Olubunmi Aboderin.

1.3         STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The research seeks to address the problem of the inefficiency of Newspapers to use News Pictures that effectively communicate a message or tell a story. Front-page photographs should draw a reader’s attention and communicate a message.

1.4         PURPOSE OF STUDY
The purpose of this study is to examine the use of News Pictures of Nigerian Newspapers in terms of their story-telling ability.


1.5         OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
1.             To study how News pictures are used in Newspapers.
2.             To study how front page photographs serve the function of information dissemination.
3.             To identify the various types of photographs that appears on the front-page.
4.             To study the importance of photography in the newspaper that goes beyond page-fillings or aesthetics.
5.             To make recommendations based on the findings of the study.

1.6         SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
1.             The research will examine the current trend of photojournalism in Nigeria.
2.             The study will examine the relevance of front-page photographs and bring into focus the use of news pictures in Newspapers.
3.             The study will establish the function of photograph as a tool of communication, information and persuasion.
4.             The study will serve as a guide and reference for future researcher or as a resource to photojournalists in training.
5.             The findings and recommendations will serve to improve and re-position the trend of photojournalism in Nigeria.

1.7         SCOPE AND LIMTATION OF STUDY
The study focuses on the content analysis of the front-page of the Guardian and the Punch Newspapers published in June 2007. This will show the diversity of the pattern of Coverage of News pictures by different Newspapers.

The time frame is choosen base on its significance. For instance, the year 2007 is the most current completed year while the month of June marks the first month after the successful transition of power from one democratic government to another in Nigeria.

1.8         RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.             What is the pattern of photograph coverage in newspapers? Does it vary from one Newspaper to another?
2.             Does the front-page photograph relate to the news headline or does it give a different story?
3.             Does a photograph serve as a powerful vehicle of social change?
4.             In terms of design and layout, what size and position do front-page photographs take in Nigerian Newspapers?
5.             How are the captions written? Do they follow the 5 W’s and H rule in news dissemination?
6.             Does newspaper give their readers a full understanding of issues through the news pictures?

1.9         DEFINITION OF TERMS
Photograph: A picture formed by means of the chemical action of light on light-sensitive material.
Newspaper: A printed publication containing news and stories that appeal to a heterogeneous audience.
Front –Page:  The first page of a newspaper that serves as the cover, containing remarkable news.
Caption: A brief explanation below a photograph meant to give additional information.
Photojournalism: The art or practice of disseminating news or story telling pictures through photographs.
Reader: A person who reads newspaper.
Communication: To pass on a message, idea or information.
Journalism: The process of news gathering and dissemination through publication to a specific audience. 

READ the full research project: Usage of News Pictures in Newspaper


written by Jennifer Ehidiamen a.k.a Jen Lee

7 comments:

Owodunni Nurudeen Sanni said...

Jenny thanks for this article as it will help me to put down more point in Mr. Boye exam today... God will increase you in knowledge.
Nurudeen Owodunni (NIJ)

Unknown said...

Estetik Confounded by the various news reports about the aesthetic
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louisgarcia said...

Your blog is so informative … keep up the good work

funke ande said...

Thanks so much for this article , i can now see how much should be given to the front page in terms of planning and patterns needed to create a perfect page.
ANDE OLUWAFUNKE OREOLUWA 200LVL MASS COMMUNICATION CALEB UNIVERSITY IMOTA LAGOS.

funke ande said...

I think this article has also help to create a good trend in the evolution of news writing in nigeria, especially within up comers like us.
ANDE OLUWAFUNKE OREOLUWA 200LVL MASS COMMUNICATION CALEB UNIVERSITY IMOTA LAGOS.

mugz said...

thanx Jan Lee for this post it has given me a clear insight of what must be done and the reasons for a photograph,thnaks

Martains Ugwaka said...

Jen Lee i got to say a very big thanks to you for saving my ass from a very serious puzzle. your article it's very informative and it has given me a lot of insights. a very big thanks to you once again, am totally grateful.