Last week, Facebook announced a new change to the way it will treat posts to Facebook pages. Based on its research of millions of users, it’s discovered that people are more likely to respond to text updates from their friends, but are less likely to respond to text-only updates from pages they’ve chosen to follow.
For journalists who monitor what works and what doesn’t on social media, this will hardly be news – it’s all about capturing the attention of someone as they skim through their Facebook newsfeed, hopefully enough to they’ll click a link, or comment, which in turn increases the chance of it appearing in other peoples’ newsfeeds more prominently too.
The fact that Facebook is responding to that user behaviour is very important though – and is another example of why photography is so important to online journalism.
Photographers will go to remarkable lengths – or many will – to get a great picture. There are many who said that the art of photography in newsrooms was dead when newspapers began appealing for User Generated Content images. I take a different view.
Like all parts of the newsroom, there are fewer staff photographers than in years gone by, but they are probably more important than ever. Why? Because ‘the internet’ loves nothing more than a great image.
That image can just as easily come from an iphone carried by a teenager who just happens to be in the right place at the right time as it can a photographer with £7k of kits with them, but that’s not to demean the work of a photographer. It’s just that like everything else in publishing, the audience is more empowered to share what they see.
The pixel-sharp quality of ipads and other Tablets makes strong images all the more compelling, while the thirst for image galleries – carefully curated ones, not ones where 30 images are thrown at the internet under a theme – means that all of a sudden, two hours on a photographic job feels less of a luxury than when all that was needed was a great shot for page 5.
Looters in Birmingham city centre
As the dust settles on a dramatic week in the UK, it’s a safe bet that hour-after-hour of TV airtime will be dedicated to programmes which reflect on what happened.
Few will be as good at relaying the incredible scenes in Birmingham as this film by Birmingham-based journalist Adam Yosef, one of the people behind the I Am Birmingham project, which was set up to showcase the best of Birmingham.
It’s safe to say that some of the images seen around the world from Brum over the past week don’t show the city at its best – but this video is by far and away the most balanced video account I’ve seen so far.
There’s a fair amount of bravery on display in the video, with some remarkable and frightening footage of parts of Birmingham being wrecked on the first night (Monday), followed by more at distance footage (very wise) on the second night, which shows gangs charging up streets and smoke billowing from the city centre.
But to counterbalance the drama, there is a lot of hope. There’s footage of the social media-organised clean up which took place on Tuesday morning, and brilliant interviews with regular people, talking about their fears, and the hope which comes from a community pulling together.
The captions at the end sum up perfectly how the riots came to an end, thanks to the powerful words of a grieving father.
As I said in the headline, if you spend 15 minutes watching any documentary about what went on in Birmingham last week, make it 15 minutes on this one:
The images from Cairo during the country’s revolution earlier this year were shown around the world within seconds of being captured.
Now, six months on, here’s another set of pictures from Cairo you should look at. Photographer Natalia Sarkissian has taken a fascinating bunch of photos of life in Cairo today, which have been posted on the Numero Cinq blog (which I only discovered after spotting it on the home page of WordPress).
What I found fascinating was that this wasn’t a cliched ‘life is back to normal’ photo set – it included shots of the on-going protests, which admittedly are much smaller in number.
The last picture is particularly superb.