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Is the picture “really” worth a thousand words?

Pertaining to journalism and news stories. A solid state photograph may be worth a thousand words, but I argue that the photograph is still secondary to text. As stated in the “Karen E. Becker” reading; the photograph was introduced to put a face with or show the reality of a story to give the text a visual feel and invoke emotion. It is true that a picture can be worth a thousand words, but it is not true that a picture is always worth a thousand words. ¬†pictures can tell stories in and of itself, but should not; for images leave the viewer with too many questions and curiosities unanswered. In an age where photography exists everywhere, the photo does not tell the viewer who took the picture, the date, location or pretense; nor does it answer questions in regard to the circumstances of an image. I took this photograph to support my argument because it has no meaning without the caption to explain its ambiguity.




I agree with your argument on how photos are secondary to text. However, for newspapers and magazines to catch the eyes of the mass audience, they must have a image to complement the text. For example, when we invaded Iraq and took over Baghdad, the picture of Saddam Hussein’s statue taken down has a greater effect to a casual reader than a textual analysis. On the contrary, an image with no text is sometimes misleading. With the Saddam Hussein image, without knowledge of the Iraqi invasion or Hussein, the image is useless.


Generally I rely on the news source to provide that excess information but images can still be misleading in many ways. I once came across a picture of a man who appeared to be placing a Palestinian flag in the ground in Israel. After further thought I realized that this man could have just as likely been removing this flag. A headline for a news story could have said either, and many would have believed it.

Joel Skelton

I think that phrase refers largely to pictures that are artistic in nature. Pictures of specific events definitely need text to tell the story so as to not leave any room for misunderstandings.


I agree with what you’re saying. Although pictures tell part of a story, there is always a part, going on behind/beside the camera, that the viewer will never be absolutely sure of the circumstances. I think it’s important to consider this when analyzing images because as a viewer we never know the whole story.

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