More than a thousand words

The Pulitzer Prize photographs in the Newseum feature decades of winning photography.

The Pulitzer Prize photographs in the Newseum feature decades of award-winning photography.

When a news story breaks 5,000 miles across the world, a journalist is there to cover it. Armed with questions, a smartphone and a quick tongue, journalists ensure the news reaches the public within several minutes or hours.

But long after the reader skims the text, the pictures remain, the powerful ones forever embedded and seared into the memory.

The best and most stunning photos we remember are awarded with the Pulitzer Prize, the most prestigious prize in photography. Pictures of humans in their most vulnerable states, with raw and extreme emotion, are what capture our attention and move us to action.

The Newseum’s Pulitzer Prize exhibit captures the range of human emotion: imbibing the sheer number of photos in the gallery is an awe-inspiring experience.


Spurring laughs and tears

As a public relations student, I’ve learned the value of social media and aesthetics, as well as appeal to the emotion. There is nothing as powerful as photos of people at the height of euphoria, depression, anxiety or worry to accompany blocks of text.

After my visit to the Newseum this Sunday, what I’ve been taught in the classroom rang true in the real world. As I watched laughing groups of people enter the exhibit, they quieted as they began to absorb the photos. Some brushed away tears and others sighed, and I realized the power of a fellow human’s facial expression forever embedded in ink.

Eddie Adams' words are the introduction visitors receive to the Pulitzer Prize photography exhibit.

Eddie Adams’ words are the introduction visitors receive to the Pulitzer Prize photography exhibit.

Approaching the competitive workforce of professionals safeguarding reputations that we call public relations, I want to incorporate powerful photography into what I do. Crisis management should be a prime recipient of this trend, as people want to see what is happening. Photos of people’s homes singed by wildfires or buried under banks of snow speak volumes and quiet dissent.

In a world where human interaction is rapidly declining, the plight of strangers still holds an eerie sway over us and contains the potential to spur laughs, tears and calls to action.


Copy editors for world peace

Noam Chomsky was accidentally credited online with being the gravest threat to world peace.

Noam Chomsky is the gravest threat to world peace, according to the headline of an article republished from the New York Times on

The website could use some better and more thorough copy editors. What most people don’t realize is that the copy editor’s role extends far beyond correcting grammar and punctuation. While these tasks are important, “Creative Editing” asserts that duties of the copy editor include:

  • Making dull copy interesting and concise
  • Guarding against libel and legal issues
  • Writing catchy headlines
  • Keeping up with the newest technology

In fact, copy editors must be better writers than journalists, because they must know what pieces to tweak to captivate people and keep them interested. They are proficient in enhancing the style of a piece while keeping its unique tone.

But their jobs don’t end there. Good copy editors’ roles extend into the artistic arena, too.

Their jobs may include:

  • selecting and cropping photographs and art
  • page layout
  • designating headline and body type style, size, width and leading

Guilty until proven innocent

Where were Alternet’s copy editors when they published “Noam Chomsky: The Gravest Threat to World Peace”?

The editors meant to attribute Chomsky’s detailed analysis of the Middle East conflict to its rightful author, but instead they attributed the Gravest Threat to World Peace to a pacifist cognitive scientist.

While the headline is grammatically correct, the copy editors made a critical error in judgment. Semicolons should be used sparingly, and one simple word could have made all the difference. What if the headline read, “Noam Chomsky on the Gravest Threat to World Peace”?

A line like that is simple, concise and straightforward. Copy editors need to constantly ask themselves, “what would the reader think?”

The “big six” are shrinking, and so are your news sources

The media is exploding with blogs, social networking and alternative forms of media, but a select few hold the keys to the information and news distributed daily to the American people.

In 1983, approximately 50 corporations dominated the news media, according to the book “Copyright’s Paradox“. Today, the “big six” companies virtually control all the news media in the United States:

  • Time Warner
  • Walt Disney
  • Viacom
  • News Corporation
  • CBS Corporation
  • NBC Universal

These companies comprise the media industry’s oligopoly, a term which means that analog and digital media are controlled by a few rich and powerful owners. The trend of media organization consolidation will likely continue, as history has proven, despite the proliferation of media type changes and citizen journalism.

Graphic courtesy of the Emerging Media Research Council

The rich get richer

Because of the current economic state in the U.S., media organizations will likely commercialize and centralize. In tough economic times, people make choices about their consumer and spending habits. They choose to cancel their newspaper subscriptions and to search for free news venues. They may choose to cancel their cable TV and instead only watch free programs. These actions result in less revenue for many media organizations, which can’t keep up with free or more appealing alternative media options. These organizations are then bought out or merge with larger corporations, resulting in centralized media companies and less choice for the American public.

Disney offers a case study in media oligopoly. In 2006, the corporation bought Pixar for $7.4 billion in a highly publicized purchase. In 2009, Disney announced a deal to acquire Marvel Entertainment, and in 2012, Disney announced plans to acquire Lucasfilm, the producer of Star Wars and the Indiana Jones films, for more than $4 billion.

Graphic courtesy of

Graphic courtesy of

The large companies who hold the money also create the latest and greatest technology that fuels the cycle of oligopoly. For example, General Electric, which used to own NBC Universal, merged with Comcast in 2009 in a $30 billion deal.

Hope springs eternal

There will always be checks and balances in the media industry, however, because of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Part of the FCC’s goal is to “ensure the media marketplace remains vibrant, robust and competitive.” The last word is key here – the FCC is partially an antitrust organization – it monitors and prevents trusts and monopolies in the media industry.

Although it is likely the media consolidation trends will continue, consumers shouldn’t fear they will read Disney’s newspaper over morning toast and coffee or pay Time Warner their phone bills. Unfortunately for media corporations, they can’t buy every organization their eyes desire, due to the FCC’s regulations. But, perhaps for once, old rules are a good thing for everyone.