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Seeing half the story

When photographs surface in the news media they offer some reference to the events preceding their capture, whether contextualized by a caption or not, but they offer little resolution after the capture of the frame. From the point of the photograph forward–whether it is of peak action, peak emotion, or a gesture,–the story becomes not one of news value, but one of historical value. That photograph is the provenance of the story that unfolded from that point forward. Zelizer makes some assertions that indicate she is unfamiliar with visual communication as a primary means of sharing information and stories, as she said, “…images were long considered the “fluff” of the news record,” but they are now supplanting newspapers by being a faster, more transmutable method for sharing information.


The story of Nick Ut and the “Napalm Girl” is world renown, but I heard both their stories during the Eddie Adams Workshop XXV–the story of compassion for a burning girl and of forgiveness despite horrible circumstances–and it was incredibly moving. There is more to a picture than what is seen–it represents a story, and as news media is evolving, so will the ability to understand that story as many diverse sources of information are analyzed and interpreted through various contexts, enhancing visual literacy.


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