The news in pictures

ONE of my favourite ways to access news online, is through picture galleries.

I’ve used Storify to attach my favourite ones into this post. Guardian, Reuters and Mail Online do this particularly well, with week or 24 hours in pictures. Their media galleries are easy to use and the captions tell the story in a nutshell. It also enables them to use striking images which are not associated with a specific news story, which may, otherwise, not be published.

Nick Ut of the Press Association's historic Vietnam War picture -one of the most memorable news images of all time.

This week my two favourite images are of a man taking plastic balls to market in India and a woman stepping off a bus into water in the Thai floods, both of which can be found in more than one of these galleries.
View the story “Fantastic Picture Galleries” on Storify]

I’d love to be able to embed those images into Mused News, or to create my own Week in News gallery which included them.

But if I was to gather the most striking images from other news organisations and picture agencies, I risk falling foul of copyright law and getting sued. Indeed some picture agencies have employed staff whose only job is to trail the interweb looking for pictures nicked without payment.

There are free copyright images out there, but you have to make sure you know what you are looking for, and they are often only useful for generic shots.

Today, I decided to use three databases – FlickrCC , Compfight and Wylio –  which allow searches for copyright free news stories to see if I can create my own, legally safe, Week in Pictures.

These databases are popular with photojournalists – some of whom allow their pictures to be used online for non-commercial purposes (like me – I’m making nowt off this blog)- and as such are a good place  to start.

I decided to be slightly more focused than many of the traditional news outlets, who will go for striking images regardless of their news value, and focus on specific leading stories from this week.

The stories I chose were; the Conrad Murray verdict; the Thai floods; Armistice Day; Syria being suspended from the Arab Nations and Berlusconi’s resignation following the Italian austerity debate.

After two hours and only two images later, I gave up. The truth is, if I was after generic shots rather than time specific, this would be far easier. But getting up to date news pictures is very difficult.

So I had a bit of a rethink and have come up with two plans of action.

1) Long term: I’ve emailed a major picture agency (I won’t name them yet), and asked, as this is a non-commercial enterprise, would they be willing to allow me to use their images.  I reckon it’s worth a go. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

2) Short term: I’ve used twitpic to gather some of the best images posted on twitter in relation to these news stories. In order to follow twitpic’s copyright rules, I’ve had to embed these pictures so when you click on them you are taken back to the twitpic post. I tried to create a gallery with them in Photobucket and using Flash, but using embed code instead of directly uploading the images made this impossible. (Any bright ideas gratefully received.)

So I’ll hand it over to you to decide how successful my exercise has been. I’ve captioned the pictures to give them a more ‘newsy’ slant, instead of using the original tweet.  Some of the pictures are better than others and obviously the usability is pants. However, I’ve also tweeted the people whose pictures they are to ask if they will waive copyright for me, and thus I could put them in to a gallery to compare usability.  Again, I’ll keep you posted.

Bangkok in chaos as flood waters rise. (@msnbcphotos)

Thai floods close factories, threaten Bangkok http://j.mp/oz1gp8 on Twitpic

Commuters leave their poppies on the tomb of the own known soldier after work on Armistice Day. (@cherylfougere)

Just left my poppy at the tomb of the unknown soldier. #remem... on Twitpic

Berlusconi looks tense during Italian austerity debate. (@presstvmobile)

Press TV News: Berlusconi legacy, Rome and abroad  http://bit... on Twitpic

Fans wait anxiously for Conrad Murray manslaughter verdict. (@MrChris82)

 Justice For Michael Jackson #verdict in #ConradMurray #MJ #L... on Twitpic

Syrian government forces continue to target civilians sparking suspension from the Arab Nations. (@Amazigh_Syria)

Government troops kill civilian and then proceed to drag his ... on Twitpic

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