When The News Photographs Twitter


Last week Twitter’s stock dropped precariously on the news that it had millions more people using it now than last year. If you read the business news this is supposed to make sense. I read the business news about this over on Reuters. My imagination was captured by the photograph they used with the article:

An illustration picture shows the log-on icon for the Website Twitter on an Ipad in Bordeaux, Southwestern France, January 30, 2013.

I copied that over because it so delighted me. If I needed to know where and when this photograph of someone’s finger hovering near an iPad screen got taken, I no longer needed to know. I knew. Also I knew I’d want to write about this.

It’s a good thing I copied the caption. I went back to the article to grab the photo so you could marvel at this. But they’d changed the photograph. The one they have now, and this time I saved it, is:

A 3D printed Twitter logo is seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration picture made in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
A 3D printed Twitter logo is seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration picture made in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

A 3D printed Twitter logo is seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration picture made in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 3, 2016.

I have trouble listing all the delightful things about this. There’s that they have more than one photograph to represent the concept of Twitter. There’s that they felt the first photograph of Twitter was inadequate. They changed it to something more dynamic than a three-year-old picture of someone touching an iPad in France. They went to someone who’d not just made a block to look like Twitter’s logo but had 3D-printed it. And there’s that Reuters I guess knew someone in Bosnia and Herzegovina who had a 3D-printed Twitter logo block to set up in front of a stock market chart.

And it’s not like they just knew someone and called her up for this article. The caption dated the photograph to the 3rd of February, about a week before the big Twitter News disappointment. This implies someone at Reuters asked, “Do we have a photo to use with a Twitter stock price drop story?” And got told about this three-year-old photo of a person touching an iPad. “No, no, that won’t do! Who cares that someone had the Twitter app in Bordeaux in 2013? Get me something that’s today!” And they did. For all the troubles there are in the news business today they’re still on top of the “updating file photographs for company stories” game.

Furthermore, it can’t be just Twitter. They have to have photographs for all sorts of companies that might disappoint investors enough to be worth writing about. That means they must decide what companies are worth getting representative photographs ready for. And that implies they have staff meetings in which people debate what companies need updated logo pictures. Some discussions must get heated, with arguments going on and on. Someone argues that “Zoup” is a company prominent enough they’ll need photographic coverage for its financial prospects. Someone else argues that “Zoup” is just the first person having a slip of the tongue while talking about lunch and doubling down on the mistake rather than owning up to the fact that sometimes tongues just don’t. I understand. I’m still trying to recover my dignity from this time in 1992 I named the below-ground floor of the house the “bisement”. The arguments must be glorious.

I grant the possibility they don’t have meetings about this. There might be someone who’s wholly taken the responsibility, and decides on arbitrary grounds. Perhaps there’s someone roaming through the Business News office at Reuters Master Command, ordering: “You! Get me an image of Hasbro’s logo in front of a waterfall! You! Look lively. Get me a Kellogg’s ‘K’ in front of an early-90s cyberpunk-y logo of a bird fluttering off someone’s hand. HEY! LiveJournal! … Never mind. But I’ve got a cream-filled long john for the first person with the Scion logo on-stage at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, wearing a Project Gemini spacesuit and … being stolen by a raccoon!” That’s a thrilling environment in which to work, right up to the point that the person is violently overthrown. Still, there’s some process by which logo photographs are made.

We live in a world filled with wonder and stock images. Also “bisement” should be something.

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

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