Tonawanda News — They say a picture is worth a thousand words. As usual, “they” are idiots.
If a picture was really worth a thousand words then rather than a 700-word column and half-column head shot this page would be taken up with a four-column picture of my face frozen in some emotive expression, accompanied only by my byline — and I’d still owe the picture a couple hundred words in change.
And you would have no idea what I’m talking about, just some vague sense of whether it was happy or sad or angry. And there would be a disturbingly large picture of my head. I’m pleased to say pictures are in fact not worth a thousand words, if for this reason alone.
Truth be told, I have no idea what the picture-to-words exchange rate is these days. There seems to be a glut of photos floating around, of landscapes, buildings, people smiling with their arms around each other at a bar. They call it Facebook, after all, not Wordbook.
I suppose the latter would be redundant.
But if we’re applying economic principles to the words-versus-pictures equation, as the cliche encourages, we’re way over on the picture supply — and demand for meaningful words is soaring.
The truth is, at least as far as newspapers are concerned, words and pictures are of equal, though different importance. Some stories require strong photography to make the words relevant. Some stories require no photos at all. Some scenes — the pretty summertime sunset, the kids sledding in Niawanda Park — require no words at all. We print people’s names in the captions mostly in the hope they’ll buy the paper and so you can answer that internal question “I wonder if that’s Jim’s kid, he looks just like him.” But really, these kinds of photos are a snapshot — that’s a photography pun — of life here on a given day.