Dan Barkin

Visual reporting in focus

Staff WriterJanuary 12, 2008 

In the old days, when newspaper photographers went out on an assignment, they would shoot a bunch of pictures using film. Then they would come back to the office and process the film and make one or two prints.

I'm not a photographer, as anyone who has seen my blurry, out-of-focus pictures will attest.

But I've known and worked with plenty of them, enough to have seen what a cumbersome process this used to be. You would go into the newspaper darkroom and get knocked back by the smell of the chemicals that were being used in this work.

No matter how many images the photographers shot, the space limitations of the printed page meant that only a couple of pictures could be used per story, most of the time. It would be a big deal to have a photo essay spread over one or two pages. All this meant that some of our best journalists -- the photographers -- were rarely able to fully display their talents.

Boy, has this changed. The convergence of the Internet and really good digital cameras has made it possible to realize the potential of visual storytelling.

That's one of the reasons we ran the 10 most viewed online photo galleries of 2007 on this page Friday. You can see them at newsobserver.com/top10.

The top gallery in terms of page views was published online last Feb. 3; it was the N.C. State-UNC basketball game, and it got more than 210,000 clicks.

Martin Luther King Day

If you'd like to get a look at some of the main events being planned for Martin Luther King Day, go to share.triangle.com/node/6216, which is the group page on share.triangle.com for The Martin Luther King Celebration Committee of Raleigh.

Businessman and community activist Bruce Lightner, the committee's leader, set up the page on Share. There's also a link to the organization's Web site, www.king -raleigh.org. We will be running a calendar of events soon in the paper. And on the front of this section today, we are asking people to go to share.triangle.com/mlk to discuss how far we've come and how far we have to go to make King's dream come true.

Citizen Q

We are looking for folks to write 250 words or less about what they would tell the presidential candidate of their choice if they had 15 minutes, say, in the limo to the airport. What would you ask the candidate? What advice would you give? Maybe it's your favorite contender, or maybe it's the one you can't stand.

We want these for our next citizen Q, which runs Feb. 3, just before nearly two dozen states hold primaries and caucuses.

We figured we'd run it the Sunday before Super-Duper Tuesday because some of the candidates will be flying back home in the middle seat of coach Tuesday night after the votes are tallied.

Send them via e-mail to Q@newsobserver.com, or mail them to Q editor, The N&O, 215 S. McDowell St., Raleigh, NC 27601. We need them by Jan. 21. Please include your contact information and political affiliation.

Please, please, please include your photo. We love photos.

And, look, everybody's a little self-conscious about spelling and grammar since they used to get those red marks on their essays in high school. Carole Tanzer Miller, the Q editor, is great at fixing those things.

Pet Contest

Speaking of elections, the Adorable Pet Contest submission deadline is Wednesday. Last week, I wrote that the count was about 250 pictures. As I finished writing this Friday afternoon, the count was at 560. First round of voting starts Jan. 21.

dan.barkin@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4562

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