Sometimes you see something that shouldn’t really be surprising, but it still blows your mind. In a recent tweet, @ThamKhaiMeng shared “every single New York Times front page since 1852.” The more recent pages show an explosion of images. We know it is all about visuals in communication today, but does that mean we don’t have to read anymore?
With print media out of fashion, traditional channels have embraced digital platforms to tell their stories. We don’t even have to get our news from television news channels anymore, we are constantly updated on social media. Digital technology increasingly enables us to tell stories in visually interesting ways. In our own capacities, smart phones and social media allow us to capture emotion and events to instantly share without having to write a word. But when traditional media also resorts to visual storytelling, does that mean that words mean less? Is visual storytelling more accurate?
Even when visual storytelling is not as immediate as social media, it makes an impact and can be very enticing and expressive. But although an image doesn’t lie, it still needs context. What happened just before or after or perhaps just outside of the picture? Are visuals, similar to headlines and intro’s, there to capture your attention, to entice you to learn more or can they tell the whole story? I believe we still need words to give the context and to ask the questions. Just as television and video ask you to listen and not only look at the pictures, written articles are about more than the image and the heading – they ask you to read.
Other than with the visual arts where your own opinion and personal takeway from a photograph or painting are encouraged, facts and news are about more than your own perspective. To get the whole and the real story, you need to be committed somewhat more than the few seconds it takes you to read the headline and see the image. But are we? Do we bother to read the whole story or do we make up our minds with what we’ve seen at first glance?
As much as I enjoy sharing insights and inspirations on my weekly blog, I really appreciate it when people comment on my articles. Sometimes they applaud my opinion and sometimes they can’t disagree more. Often, it is just a thumbs up or a side-remark, nothing serious, but I still appreciate the time they spent to react. One might assume that if someone takes such time to respond, that they’ve actually read the article. But we all know how dangerous assumptions can be and often the remarks and responses clearly show that someone only read the caption or looked at the picture. My articles are only opinions and not reading all my murmurings will not hurt a soul, but it’s a different story when it is about real news.
A picture can speak a thousand words. And today, we have animations and videos and interactive ways of sharing statistics that make research and information much more interesting and engaging. Who can blame us if we’ve become a bit lazy to read? But, don’t just ignore the words, they bring all important context and perspective.