A look at photo editing
This photo appeared on the front page of The Oklahoman: Marching to chants of “Free, Free Palestine,” about 200 people gathered at the Oklahoma state Capitol Monday, Jan. 5, 2009, to protest Israel’s attack on the Gaza strip. Some protesters carried signs, some waved flags and some held small children as they shouted their support of a Palestine free of Israeli intervention at the noon rally. BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN
Staff photographer Jim Beckel contributes this look at the process of how pictures get picked for the newspaper and some of the concerns of the profession:
A question I am frequently asked is “Do you choose the photos that go in the paper?” I always answer the same, “Yes and No.” Let me explain. At The Oklahoman, photographers edit their own images from a shoot. If I shoot 50 images at an event, I have the opportunity to select the images that I want to submit to the editors to be considered for publication. The editor(s) and page designers in charge of layout make the final determination as to which photo(s) will run. I bring this up because of a photo I took Jan. 5, 2009.
I had been assigned to cover a rally at the state capitol. Supporters of a free Palestine would gather at noon on the building’s south plaza to voice their concerns about recent attacks by Israel’s military in the Gaza Strip. At the peak of the protest, around 200 people had gathered; most carried hand printed signs. The protest was peaceful. Lots of signs, lots of chanting, group prayer at the end of the rally. Lots of opportunities for photos. I returned to the paper, edited my images and turned in eight photos to my editors.
Late in the afternoon, editors from each department gather in a large conference room just off the main area of the newsroom where they examine stories, photos and graphics available for the next day’s newspaper. I don’t attend that meeting. Doug Hoke, the paper’s director of photography, represents the photo department.
When the meeting had ended, I learned one of my photos from the rally had generated a spirited discussion regarding the photograph’s appropriateness for use on the front page. The photo shows a man marching, shouting while he leads a group of protestors carrying signs. Behind him is a sign held high with a graphic depiction of a swastika printed atop the Star of David. It was decided this photo was too inflammatory and another image was selected for the front page. The photo that appeared the next morning, seen at the top of this post, shows a wider view with more protestors and more signs. The sign in question can be seen, but it is obscured somewhat by another banner. The newspaper’s website, NewsOK.com, did use the photo in question that very day with reporter Michael McNutt’s coverage. The photo can now be seen as part of a gallery of photos posted from that event.
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