The ethics of using photo-illustrations for news stories

Bagpiper staff members and Floyd Central journalism students:

Please read, think about, and respond to the following article by Gary Green regarding the use of photo-illustrations with news stories (click on the link below).

Do we use this technique too often in The Bagpiper? What are the ethical concerns and considerations of using photo-illustrations with news content? Do we need to establish clearer, more consistent guidelines for use of photo-illustrations? Why or why not? And if so, should some of these guidelines be? I’d like your thoughts outlined in the Comments section of my blog off to the left of this entry. Consider your own section when appropriate. Consider both print and web. Remember to leave your name. Deadline: Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. Worth 20 points.

Is it appropriate to use a photo-illustration for a news story?

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About James E. Lang

I'm a high school journalism and English teacher at Floyd Central High School in Southern Indiana. My interests include reading, writing, literacy, politics, the media, issues of faith, and IU basketball...basically, I'll blog about anything and everything. I'm an independent thinker. I respect all viewpoints and opinions and value reasonable discourse and learning about others. I have been a proud public school educator all of my life. The purpose of my blog is to support scholastic journalism, promote literacy and civic engagement, and explore the social, political, and policy issues impacting education.

51 responses to “The ethics of using photo-illustrations for news stories”

  1. Nicollette Barreras says :

    I am a reporter in the print issue of the Bagpiper in the news section and we use both action and photo-illustrations effectively. I honestly do not think we have overused either medium, but I do think we could strive to use more action shots that require them. Photo-illustrations depend on the story and the angle being reported, and sometimes for the privacy of others and the story’s content they are absolutely necessary.

    One ethical concern would be that a photo-illustration may cause readers to conceptualize something totally different than the meaning of the story angle. Another ethical concern may be to protect the rights of those involved in the story. Also, a major concern that may happen in a news story that uses a photo-illustration is that the photo may show bias. This can cause readers to make an unfair opinion before reading the story. The photo-illustration may also give the newspaper a bad reputation if readers thought the paper was biased.

    I honestly think the Bagpiper needs to use guidelines only when the story is sensitive to a person’s identity, guilt, or integrity. In last issue’s pullout, the gun on the front page provided a shock factor for readers and pulled the reader into the story. If we had used an actual person’s identity with the gun on the front page, it may have been a detriment to that person. Photo-illustrations with are necessary for giving a visual element to sensitive content.

    • James E. Lang says :

      Nicollette: Good point about using illustrations when being sensitive to a person’s identity, guilt, or integrity. I agree with you that we should strive for action photos whenever possible. Lang

    • JT says :

      JT: As a photographer, images are what I do. Photo-illustrations are a good medium when the subjects needs to be bowdlerized or if the topic is too graphic. Action shots have there place. They are good for events, competitions, or stories that involve action. I think there is a balance that needs to be achieved. Both are legitimate,but for every illustration in one story there needs to be an action shot in another.

  2. Allison Werner says :

    In the Bagpiper, we use a strong DVE with news stories. I never feel like we use any photos that could cause controversy. With using strong photo illustrations, there is always a possibility that the photo could cause ethical concerns, this concern being more focused on hard hitting stories. I do not feel as though we should have more clear and concise guidelines when it comes to this issue. The reason behind this is the fact that we haven’t used a photo that could cause discrepancy. I believe our news section this year, and past years, has had a good understanding of what should and shouldn’t be published.

    • James E. Lang says :

      Allison: Generally, I believe you are right…our journalists have usually used good judgment when using photo-illustrations. I do want to make sure we do not overuse them in place of action or journalistic photos. Lang

  3. Jacob Baumann says :

    In the Bapiper, I do not fell as though we overuse photo illustrations, but there needs to be a set of guidelines established of when and when not to utilize them on a page.

    When it all boils down, the main issue is the ethical concerns based on the story. Students might see a bias in a story based on a photo. All the trust the reader had in the beginning, has effectively been thrown out the window. The gun control story could have been a disaster if the photos were not neutral, and someone or a group could have possibly been singled out due to it. Also, some stories may be about someone who doesn’t want to be photographed, or it could be like the scenario listed in the article.

    A set of guidelines needs to be in place, but mainly for sensitive issues like gun violence, school issues, and other timely problems. The guidelines don’t really need to be applied on opinion pages, because they should display what the author is trying to relay to the reader. I honestly think photo illustrations should be used mostly for opinion, but hey can be used effectively elsewhere, including news stories. Photo illustrations are sometimes the best bet for a story’s message to be better received, and it could possibly entice the reader to want to look at a story.

  4. brookemcafee says :

    On the Bagpiper, I think we have a good balance of action shots and photo- illustrations. I am a reporter on the A&E section, which generally uses less action shots than other sections. Since we usually include reviews and stories about popular entertainment, the visual elements usually consist of artwork, pictures of album covers, and other graphics, with a few action shots when needed. Though our use of action shots certainly needs improvement, I think our method is appropriate, considering the type of stories we cover. This also applies to Forum, where cartoons can express the writer’s opinion.

    With news stories such as the gun pullout in our last issue, it was necessary to use photo- illustrations to stay neutral and prevent controversy. It would only do harm to others if a student or another person was featured in the photograph. Also, a good, well-planned photo-illustration can effectively draw readers to the page and enhance the story. However, with less sensitive issues, action shots should be used when possible.

    I believe the Bagpiper staff already has a clear idea of when to use photo-illustrations, and the use of action photos has improved considerably since the beginning of the year. I also think we need to continue to improve in the area of photo-journalism, so we can have many outstanding action shots and a few effective photo-illustrations in each issue.

  5. Blake Dykes says :

    I write for the online version of the Bagpiper and I do think that we use this method too often. I feel that sometimes it is more of a short cut or a backup plan in case we do not have a picture to post with a story.

    The ethical concerns with using this with news content is that viewers may think that we are trying to persuade them into thinking about the story in a certain way. Even if we are just using a suiting image that we see fit to go with the story, the viewers may not understand or disagree. I think it is always best to go with an action shot of the event, that way there is no misunderstandings.

    I do indeed think that there should be stricter rules, informing the writers about what they can and cannot do as far as photo illustrations goes. That way they know weather it is acceptable or not and there is no confusion on their part. An example of a guideline may be: Only use a photo illustration in a forum piece of writing. In any other piece of writing there are always plenty of options to take pictures.

  6. Chase Palmer says :

    I believe that photo illustration is ethical because if they are done right and carefully with plenty of planning involved they can be interesting and just as un-bias as a photograph. The only danger of using a photo illustration is by using the technique too often when unnecessary. For normal reporter stories where you can easily get pictures of people’s faces such as with sports coverage and personality profiles, a photograph should definitely be used the most because they report the story by showing what’s going on while the story tells you what’s going on. Photo illustrations do not really report a story straight forward because they usually do not consist of the people mentioned in the story and they do not come with a caption. For opinion stories there should be about an even mix of photo illustrations, photos, and cartoons.

  7. maddiemiyahara says :

    I think we use this technique a lot, but we use it in the right way. Sometimes it’s not only hard to get a picture of what we’re covering, but sometimes it’s more appealing to use a photo illustration. For instance, when we did the story on weighted grades, it worked better to use an illustration than photojournalism because there’s nothing really to get a photograph of. When a story is concerning minors, or could invade someone’s privacy if they are photographed you should use and illustration. I don’t think there needs to be strict rules, it’s up to the journalist. They just have to be prepared to take the criticism whether they choose to use photojournalism or photo illustration.

  8. Hannah Cheatham says :

    I feel like with The Bagpiper we should strive to have more action shots than photo illustrations. Although, photo illustrations do help protect a person’s identity and integrity, I believe they should be used tastefully and only when needed.

    The front page of the gun pullout this past issue was a great use of a photo illustration. It was such a sensitive topic to report about and I feel as if we should censor using photo illustrations for sensitive topics.

    I believe actions shots draw the reader in while photo illustrations help tell the story. Either way, I feel like our publication does a very good job of using both.

  9. zoedoebbler says :

    I do not think we overuse photo-illustrations in the Bagpiper. While action shots tell stories, they are not always as effective at driving readers to a story as photo-illustrations are, and we primarily use photo-illustrations to do this. However, I would like to see more action photos in the Bagpiper because they show aspects of a story that may be overlooked if a photo-illustration was used instead.

    The biggest concern of using a photo-illustration in a story is that readers may misinterpret it, i.e. assuming a model for a photo-illustration is actually a person interviewed in the story. I think this issue could be avoided by including a disclaimer with the illustration explaining that the model is unrelated to the story or by using a more abstract photo-illustration.

    I would like to see more guidelines for photo-illustrations, mostly regarding how they are used and how often. I think they are good at drawing attention, but the effect is negated if they are used too frequently or ineffectively.

  10. Ashton Beck says :

    In the Bagpiper, I do not think we overuse photo Illustrations. In fact I think we should take more risks without crossing any boundaries. I don’t think we have pushed ourselves enough to hit that point of a controversy other than the recent gun story. The bigger and intense the stories are, the deeper we should dig in without crossing the line. Everyone has an opinion and they can go in so many different directions. To make sure no one is offended, there should be certain guidlines to follow. We could ask fellow members on staff their views, but more importantly, ask the main topic/angle of our story what is and is not exceptable.

  11. Leah says :

    I am a news reporter for the Bagpiper print class. As a news reporter I was always told it was not a good idea to use photo illustrations because news is real and should be projected the way it actually is. However, photo illustrations can be just as exciting and informative as action shots, if done the right way. We have some amazing artists on staff who can draw pictures that resemble action shots and it is up to us whether or not we take advantage of the opportunity.

    I am somewhat of a neutral party on this issue because I believe both photo illustrations and actions shots have positive and negative factors. I agree with Nicollette when she said we must be respectful of the sources we use; but that does not mean we have to cover up every little detail making it a soft, sweet story. I say if we can get a great action shot of something interesting, (still keeping good ethics in mind), then use it.

    In the end,It all comes down to the story that is written. I think our Newspaper does a great job of teaming up and making the decision of which one to use. That is the big picture; leaving the decisions up to the students who write the story. They should know what they are looking for to use in their story.

    I personally think the news section of the paper should stay with the action shot look, whether that is an actual action shot or a photo illustration.

  12. Beth Brunmeier says :

    Perhaps I’ve overlooked something, but I don’t think that the Bagpiper, at least in print, uses too many photo illustrations in regards to news stories. There are quite a few used with opinion-based works in the Forum, but there should be no qualms about that, since any photo illustration simply reflects the author’s views. If it’s true that we use a significant number of photo illustrations with objective stories, then we do it in a way that fits with the story without being offensive or untruthful.

    One of the possible issues with photo illustrations is that they can be misleading. They are used so often to cause a reaction, such as how they had wanted readers to react to seeing a picture of a handcuffed “teenager” before the idea was turned down. Without careful regulations, I feel as though photo illustrations could push that limit too far, so much so that personal bias might be revealed in the type of reaction the photo is hoping to illicit.

    Basically, while I believe that action shots should be obtained as much as possible, photo illustrations are always an option. However, should anyone make that decision, the process of choosing an illustration should be very involved. It should be discussed in-depth with the higher-ups so that the illustration used is the most appropriate and does not cross any lines.

  13. Jake Trotter says :

    I do not think that we use too many photo illustrations in The Bagpiper, necessarily, but it would be easy to go overboard. Doing photo illustrations as opposed to action shots can be seen as easier since it avoids getting out there. Designing an alternative visual concept tends to be much a more introverted process. However, photo illustrations can be utilized in an effective manner and are essential in many cases.

    There are quite a few ethical concerns that need to be considered when using photo illustrations with a news story. The illustration could show a bias that may mislead the reader from the true intention of the story or it may upset them and cause them to think less of the newspaper and other news mediums as a whole. This damages the integrity of the newspaper. Also, there are cases in which the subjects of the story would like to have their identities protected.

    I believe we need to establish a clear set of guidelines when it comes to using photo illustrations when it comes to matters of privacy, sensitivity, and integrity. When using photo illustrations in lieu of action shots, there should be a healthy dialogue to ensure that the illustration is not confusing, misleading, biased, or detracts from the story in any way.

  14. Lexi Burch says :

    I think we use photo illustration a lot and sometimes in places where we could of gotten an actual action photo, but as a small publication sometimes photo illustration is the only way to get a featured image for a story. The times when some people may be offended by some stories or pictures is when we need to use photo illustrations the most. I don’t think there should be to many guidelines when it comes to photo journalism or photo illustrations, it is a way to express a story so people can get an imagine in their mind about it, people just need to be ready for criticism.

  15. Eli Bolus says :

    Like most things photo opinions, when used in moderation can be a very valuable resource. There are certain stories that a action shot wouldn’t contribute much to. Such as a person talking at a podium. What does that bring to the table that a headshot of the speaker wouldn’t? In these situations a photo opinion would be valuable. However if we begin to overuse them than they will use the power that they hold.
    They shouldn’t be used as an easy way out to avoid getting action shots but in moderation and tastefully a photo illustration can be a valuable resource for news stories.

  16. Abbie Ewing says :

    I believe photo illustrations have a place in the Bagpiper. They must be used in moderation in order to be effective, but I think when used occasionally photo illustrations can add to the creativity of the newspaper. Photo illustrations can really get the readers thinking about how the illustration represents the story and why it was chosen. Because of this, photo illustrations as dominant visual elements can be used effectively to pull readers into a story. Besides this creativity point, photo illustrations, as the article stresses, are used commonly when there is a controversy over the ethics of using an actual action shot. So for these reasons, I think photo illustrations have there rightful place in our newspaper.

  17. evanspears22 says :

    I do not feel that we use too many photo illustrations in the Bagpiper. Last issue, news had a great example of a photo illustration with the gun pullout. We used the photo illustration to protect the privacy of those involved. We should make sure that we don’t over use photo illustrations and only use them when it is necessary. We should push for action shots in all sections.

  18. Madison Rice says :

    I feel like in journalism there is a place for both action shots and photo illustrations. I think our paper should use more action shots but I don’t think we should totally get rid of photo illustrations. I think it just depends on what kind of story we need the photo for. If we can get a nice action shot instead of a photo illustration I think we should always go for the action shot. But, I think its ultimately up to the reporter or editor to make the professional decision on which one to use.

  19. colleenebryan says :

    In the Bagpiper, I believe we can have a good balance of photo illustrations and action shots. I believe in this last issue we put out, we improved on this. Using photo illustrations can be seen as a cop out solution when it doesn’t seem easy to attain an action shot. There are many opportunities we could use to go beyond just getting a picture and focusing on showing the action involved with the story we are writing. When we do use photo illustrations, I believe they’re done very well. We have a lot of talented photographers on staff that we can utilize. Our main focus should be having a good balance of photography and photo illustrations. Some guidelines might need to be set up due to ethical reasons. Some things, such as the gun pullout we just did, need photo illustrations so we are not having to cause controversy to readers or seem biased about the event. For harder hitting stories I believe that actions shots should be used mainly, where as photo illustrations should generally be used in lighter stories and columns.

  20. evanspears22 says :

    I do not feel that we overuse photo illustrations in the Bagpiper. Last issue, news had a great example of a photo illustration with the gun pullout. They used it to protect the privacy of those involved, which is when photo illustrations should be used. All sections should push for action shots, and only use photo illustrations when necessary. I feel that we do a great job of balancing action shots and photo illustrations.

  21. Kara Beard says :

    I think the Bagpiper needs to do more action shots in the news section, mainly because I think they pull the readers’ attention into the story and it gives them a face to go along with the story. The only time I would think placing a photo illustration into the news section would be if it were to protect a source or sources in the story; such as, in the article he wrote about the inmates in prison. I don’t think it’s our job to avoid controversy. If an action shot that we place in the news section stirs up controversy then that means people are talking about the paper and actually looking at it and reading it. Whether what they have to say is good or bad, controversial topics get people talking, and that could mean more letters to the editor! 🙂

  22. Clara Burton says :

    Any media whatsoever, whether it is social media, a news or opinion website, a “News” station on TV, holds great power and sway over the population. I have noticed that even when a story is technically speaking “objective” it can still have bias from the writer or photographer because the writer, photographer or editor chooses what information to show, either consciously or subconsciously. There will always be some kind of bias or opinion in a news story because to get the information to readers we quote people and people have opinions and views and versions of “how things are.” Hence the fact that every story has to have so many sources.

    There is a fine line that every reporter walks and sometimes, actually more often than not, out of desperation, typically due to an impending deadline, a reporter crosses that line.

    I guess what everyone needs to remember with photo illustrations is that every photo no matter how simple conveys a mood or emotion. For example the front page photo of the gun pullout conveyed a bit of a shock to the reader as is natural to anyone who may see or seem to have a gun pointing at them. The important thing is to make sure that any photo illustration used represents the information in whatever story it is paired with accurately or, if the story has two very distinct sides or opinions to it, that the photo shows both sides of the spectrum as best as any photo can.

    I guess the only way to keep people from being mislead by a photo or heck even a story is to think like someone who has the lowest possible education and intelligence. These are the people who are most likely to be mislead and who will mislead others. Unfortunately, I feel that news stations on TV use this fact far to much to their advantage. They call themselves a news station when all they show is a group of people talking over an issue with the words “I think” used far to much. But just because they call themselves a news station people believe that the “information” that comes after “I think” is truth. But that is another issue entirely.

  23. Mike Springer says :

    I feel that the bagpiper uses just the right amount of photo illustrations and action shots. Overall we should strive to get action shots but I think that our staff uses the illustrations when needed. We as a staff should get together and talk about this topic when it comes up but for now I feel we do a great job and keep up the good work.

  24. NathanHemminger says :

    I think the important thing to remember about photo-illustrations is not the specific subjects of the photo and the ethics behind that subject, but whether or not the illustration clearly explains the story behind it. Recently, with the illustrations on the gun pull-out and the illustration for the security story, I feel we are becoming in depth and adventurous with our illustrations. Action shots are often considered the better option, but I honestly feel that it comes down to deciding whether an action shot or a photo illustration will convey the meaning of the story in an easier-to-understand way. Depending on the story, I think a well made illustration can convey a story better than any action shot.

  25. Grace Runkel says :

    I think that the Bagpiper does resort to using photo illustrations too often. We often use them when we are in a time crunch, but this is not a good enough reason. Photo illustrations should be used only when there is an ethical concern, like with the gun story in our last issue and the sports story from last year about abuse. News stories should feature action shots that document the events covered in the story.

    I do not think that the Bagpiper needs a set of guidelines to determine when we should and should not use photo illustrations. I think that everyone understands when we should use photo illustrations. The problem is that we are not planning ahead and following through so we have to result to last minute photo illustrations to complete our stories. Planning ahead and taking the initiative to get photos would solve this problem in both print and online classes.

  26. thefcbagpiper says :

    I am a reporter and editor for the Bagpiper Online, and when I review our print newspaper I believe that we use a good mixture of photo illustrations along with action photos. I agree with Jacob that illustrations are better used for opinion pieces.

    I believe that the ethical concerns with photo illustrations is that they could be perceived at biased. Our readers could think they the illustration is only covering on side of the story. With illustrations, we are creating them, so ultimately we are choosing how the photo is going to effect the story.

    I personally like illustrations better only because I love the creativity aspect of it. I believe that it can be more effective because we can push a certain issue into light by the way we use effects on a photo. We can create things that reality cannot physically show.

    With that being said, in a print newspaper I feel sports stories should only have action shots because there is so much action right in front of our eyes to shoot there is no reason why we would not take advantage of that.

    I believe the guidelines are clear in the Bagpiper, only because there is a good balance in the print paper. The ethical concerns with photo illustrations were brought out with the gun control pullout we put in the last issue of the newspaper. With that there was a guideline put up to make sure that the picture didn’t promote one side of the issue over the other. In the online class, we use action shots. We could start experimenting with that a little more and using more illustrations with our opinion or features stories.

    By Alyssa Book

  27. thefcbagpiper says :

    I believe that if you’re going to use a photo illustration for a news story that you need to make sure that is relevant and that people can see the connection between the story and the photo. Photos should not be used as crutches but rather as a way to tell a story completely. In the Bagpiper we do not overuse photo illustrations for news stories in my opinion. – Noble Guyon

  28. Christian DiMartino says :

    The Bagpiper does seem to use photo illustrations quite a bit, but I am not exactly sure that that is a bad thing. I suppose it really depends on the topic of the story. Some things can’t exactly be captured on camera, so sometimes using a photo illustration is absolutely necessary. For example, if somone was writing a story on Obama, you are not going to be able to just go up to him and snap a picture, for many reasons. One being that we live in Indiana. But a photo illustration may not work either, unless it looked exactly like him. Photo illustrations work for certain things, but if it is a news story, it is best to just sticking with action shots.

  29. Peter Hyle says :

    I think that the Bagpiper Online uses more photo illustrations rather than action shots, mostly because it’s easier. The print classes generally have a better combination of photo illustrations and action shots. We resort to using this because the material might be too risky or offensive with some sort of action shot, but overall we tend to use it even though the story would work better without a photo illustration. In my personal opinion, I do not think a set of guidelines reguarding photo illustrations are needed. We simply need to understand when it is or is not needed for the story. Most of the time it is clear that avoiding an action shot is done to meet a deadline. The photos for every story should be the main priority, because they’re just as important as the writing.

  30. Bailey Hussung says :

    In the Bagpiper, and I speak chiefly for online, I think we lean too easily to use photo illustrations for news stories. Photo illustrations can be dangerous because not only can they tell a story, but they can also invoke emotion out of a reader. Especially in news stories, it is important to stay totally unbiased, even in imagery. Though sometimes photo illustrations are necessary, they should be avoided.
    Overall, I do no think the Bagpiper overuses photo illustrations, but I think all reporters should understand that they are not the best option.

  31. Danielle Rehor says :

    Photo illustrations, as previously stated, are a wonderful tool, but as Grace said, too quickly resorted to. Photo illustrations, similar to annonymous interviews, should be done as a very last resort. Our tabloid size newspaper does lend itself to more visually, asthetically appealing layouts with a focus on photos instead of the written word.

    However, that being said, there is no reason our photos cannot be just as journalistic as our stories. In fact, they should be. We tout being well rounded journalists, and a part of that lies in the ability to be good photojournalists. As the story said, “Majority of the time, news stories provide plenty of opportunity for documentary photojournalism.” Our photography, along with our stories, should be unbiased and original, not misleading or contain the possibility of being ambigously percieved. Simply stated, photography should be as strong and definitive as our words. We should not be taking the easy way out.

  32. Jared Hinderer says :

    While I feel that photos of the real event convey a much stronger message, they cannot be used in some cases. Such as the case in the story posted here. I do not think the Bagpiper over uses photo-illustrations. We have a great team of photographers that do a good job with getting out there and capturing the real event, but another strong point of our photographic team is that can stage a photo in a way to make it interesting and relevant. This is where we set ourselves apart from other publications using photo-illustrations.

    However, I would have to echo what Jacob Baumann said above, in the way that we need to be careful when and where we use them. As he said, a staged photo can appear biased when it should not, and we need to be careful of that risk.

    All in all, I don’t think we overuse them, but we need to be careful using them, just like any other publication.

  33. Rachel Naville says :

    I think that some issues of the Bagpiper contained too many photo illustrations. But, we also see the value of action shots and try very hard to use those in our publications. Graphics are very important to journalism, but should not be over-used. They should only be used on ethically difficult stories, or when they are unattainable due to lack of permission. Editors need to communicate with the other editors to make sure not too many photo illustrations are used in one issue.

  34. Bryce Romig says :

    I feel like we only use illustrations when we need too, or can’t find any other images to take its place. I don’t think for a large news story that we would use one. I feel like we wouldn’t have as in-depth coverage if we constantly used them with big news stories. Big news stories need actual photographs in my opinion. I feel like the photo illustrations need to be a little more detailed/thought out. On web, I don’t think they should be used. I would much rather see actual photos online.

  35. Brad Hunt says :

    The Bagpiper may tend to overuse photo illustrations. The majority of the news stories usually involve photo illustrations instead of action shots. While there are times when live shots would be very difficult or inappropriate to compliment stories, there are many other times when photo illustrations are used in order to same time, when live shots would have been appropriate if adequately planned and executed.

    I don’t find anything ethically wrong with using photo illustrations because many stories just don’t lend themselves to good action photos. That said, there should be more thought put into whether or not a photo illustration would be favorable for a certain story instead of putting more thought into what types of photo illustrations are appropriate. There are not an overwhelming amount of circumstances that require debate over the ethics of photo illustrations.

  36. Ashley Vance says :

    I feel like the Bagpiper uses a good variety of photo illustrations and action shots. However, I think we use photo illustrations when we could get action shots just as easily with some planning ahead of time. The photo illustrations that we do print are well done and go well with our stories, but would create a better visual for readers if they were replaced with action shots, depending on the story. In some cases, like in the article, photo illustrations should be used to protect the identity and security of the students, especially in the case that they are minors.

  37. Alaina King says :

    In the Bagpiper, we use the right amount of photo illustrations. The Bagpiper does a great job of using the photographers to get action shots. When we have no other option left that is when we use photo illustrations. Although it is not an amazing action shot, we do photo illustrations very well to where the photo attract the readers and compliments the story. I think Mr. Lang is pushing the Bagpiper in the right direction to get action shots, photo illustrations can be just as impacting if necessary.

  38. Michael Pepin says :

    I do not think that we overuse photo Illustrations, and if fact I think that the Bagpiper is better for the various creative photo Illustrations that adorn our front cover. However, I do feel that we are walking the knife edge with this, as we also use them frequently with other stories. For controversial topics like the gun control issue, I think that using a photo illustration is not only a great idea but necessary. If we had included a person on the cover rather than the gun like we did recently, that would have instead drawn the attention to that person rather than the issue at hand.
    For the front cover and other controversial topics, I think our use of Photo Illustrations is appropriate and should continue.
    However for smaller columns within the story, I do feel that we might need to start cutting back and relying more on the cartoonists than photo illustrations. For me, that innovative and funny comic strip is what draws me to read a column rather than anything else.

  39. Meghan Poff says :

    We need to stop using photo illustrations as an easy way out for stories that aren’t well enough planned to have an action shot. We generally use illustrations for news stories and front covers that could have had an action shot if there would have been more planning. The only place and time when photo illustrations should be used is in the editorial section, or in instances when using an action photo compromises someone’s privacy, dignity, or reputation. Photo illustrations can too easily be used to manipulate the readers to how we want them to feel about a story.

  40. Anna Boone says :

    I feel like we do overuse photo illustrations, mainly due to the fact we are not willing to put in the time and effort to research possible places we could get action shots. When we do use action shots there are very effective and normally well shot, but we do not do them often enough.

    However, for some stories, action shots are not possible to get, either due to legal issues or the spontaneous nature of the event that is being covered. In these cases I believe photo illustrations are ethical to use as long as they do not sensationalize the story. Photo illustrations provide a visual for readers to connect to the story, and when used in this way can be very successful.

  41. Emily Aschbacher says :

    I think if people use photot illustrations sparingly they can be used to someones advantage. It can really draw a reader to a page. However, if it harms the image of the person or people involved in the picture the outcome could not come out as expected. If used in the right contex, and in the right light this can be very effective. People just have to make sure they are not hurting the images of others in doing a photo illustration.

  42. bekahbirds says :

    When I think about this topic, a swarm of images flood my head. I think about different pictures I’ve seen that have caused controversy being linked with a very sensitive news story. In some cases, I think that using a photo illustration is a way to avoid controversy, but isn’t that what a publication strives for? Feedback from our readers is essential. In years past, the use of photo illustrations were prevalent in the Bagpiper, but this year I feel like we have strayed away from the photo illustrations and used more action shots, even though there hasn’t been a lot of hard news stories.
    All in all, I think it is only appropriate to use an action shot in a hard news story if the subject of the photo gives you specific consent to use it, like in the homelessness story from a few years ago. I do think that the Bagpiper does a good job of balancing their use of photo illustrations and action shots.

  43. Alesha M says :

    I think we use them when we are too lazy to photograph a good photoe. We should never use them with news stories, I don’t think that provides enough coverage for readers. We need them to be more detailed I think. They are more like cartoons now. I think we should have one artist that is in journalism that we can give our ideas too in advance.

  44. Keevin Sakai says :

    I think that photo Illustrations are okay to use in most cases. This varies on the occasion. In the occasion that you can’t convey the views of a story you can use a photo illustration. I feel that they are not as over used as we think they are but I feel that they are a little too dramatic. With this said, I feel that If we can get the correct shot without using photo illustrations then we should. In ethics, I feel that there is nothing wrong with using them.

  45. McKenna Click says :

    As a new photographer I am very surprised how often we resort to photo illustrations. People are busy, it’s understandable, I myself have fallen trap to having too many activities scheduled on one night, but we have such a big staff there is no reason for the large number of photo illustrations that we use. I understand, like Grace said, using them if there is an ethical concern. I think that we should spend some time teaching the basic functions of a camera and talking about photography so that if someone is covering a story and a Bagpiper official photographer cannot make it, the reporter knows how to take pictures and take them well. If more people took pictures at the event rather than an afterthought we would use less photo illustrations.

  46. Claire DeFrancisci says :

    As an online editor, I agree with Blake. I feel that our website usually puts photo illustrations as the featured image to go along with a story. I think that it would improve the website if we used more action photos. I also think that sometimes our lack of action photos is related to the lack of planning. I also agree with McKenna that we should make sure every body knows the basic rules of photography so that they may go to an event and take a photo if a photographer can’t be there.

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