Friday, February 27, 2015

Captions tell the truth but not what they already know to be true

"Awaiting President Obama's arrival in me," a questionable caption written in the article "Top 20 News Caption Fails of All Time."
What most readers usually look at when reading any news article are the photos first. Then they look at the captions and then the actual articles.
Captions, also called cutlines, are the only descriptors we have when it comes to photographs in the news. Yes we can look at the picture and guess what is occurring but to really know what is happening we must look at the cutlines.
For cutlines to really be helpful they have to tell you at least five things: who, what, when, where, why and sometimes how.  It is like writing a mini article for a photo.  Cutlines are also short and get right to the point.
To really understand what a caption is you have to first look at what it does. Cutlines give you more information; therefor, it makes no sense to write a caption that says what we can already see in the photo. Cutlines tell the story of the photo and without it there is just a picture left with no further description as to its importance.
         Cutlines are an important part of any photo in a news article. With out the cutline people will make assumptions about what is occurring in the photos and those assumptions may not be relevant to the story that is actually written.

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