IMPACT OF PHOTOGRAPHS IN GRAPHICAL DETAILS OF AN EVENTS (A case study of Newspaper Photographs of the Bombing of the United Nations Office in Abuja)


1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

Print media are over the years compete and struggling to survive. One basic tactic newspapers and magazines have often used to propel their media is the physical appeal of their product, and that is often driven by photographic visuals and design.

The word photography comes from two ancient Greek words: photo, for light, and graph, for “drawing.’ “Drawing with light” is a way of describing photography. When a photograph is made, light or some other form of radiant energy, such as X rays, is used to record a picture of an object or scene on a light- sensitive surface. Early photographs were called sun pictures, because sunlight itself was used to create the image.

Mankind has been a maker of images at least since the cave paintings of

some 20,000 years ago. With the invention of photography, a realistic image that would have taken a skilled artist hours or even days to draw could be recorded in exact detail within a fraction of a second.

Today, photography has become a powerful means of communication and a mode of visual expression that touches human life in many ways. For example, photography has become popular as a means of crystallizing memories. Most of the billions of photographs taken today are snapshots–casual records to document personal events such as vacations, birthdays, and weddings.

Photographs are used extensively by newspapers and magazines to convey information and advertise products and services.

Practical applications of photography are found in nearly every human endeavor from astronomy to medical diagnosis to industrial quality control.

Photography extends human vision into the realm of objects that are invisible because they are too small or too distant, or events that occur too rapidly for the naked eye to detect. A camera can be used in locations too dangerous for humans.

Photographs can also be objects of art that explore the human condition and provide aesthetic pleasure. For millions of people, photography is a satisfying hobby or a rewarding career.

The public wants to spend more time with pictures than text, and the immediacy and availability of photography makes that possible. Consumers want a photo with every story they read, but that it can cause strong emotions since a photograph can tell an entire story.

However, the focus of this research is on how photographs give graphical details of an events with a specific reference to the photographs of the Bombing United Nations Building in Abuja on 26 August 2011.

The 2011 Abuja bombing was a car bomb explosion on Friday, 26 August 2011 in the Nigerian capital Abuja UN building that killed at least 21 and wounded 72. A spokesperson from the violent Sunni Islamist group Boko Haram later claimed responsibility.

At about 1 1:00 am in the diplomatic zone in the centre of the city the car bomb vehicle broke through two security barriers. Then its driver detonated the bomb after crashing it into the UN reception area. The bomb caused devastation to the buildings lower floors. The building is said to be the headquarters for about 400 UN employees but it is not clear how many were inside the building at the time of the attack.

A wing of the building collapsed and the ground floor of the building was badly damaged. Emergency services were quickly on the scene removing dead bodies from the building and rushing the wounded to hospital. Cranes have been brought to the blast site to move the mass of rubble and ensure that no-one is trapped there.

The blast killed at least 21 people and injured 73. The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Viola Onwuliri, said: This is not an attack on Nigeria but on the global community. An attack on the world.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the attack as an ‘assault on those who devote themselves to helping others the attack is the first suicide bombing in Nigeria to attack an international organization.

In September 2011 the Nigerian Department of State Security alleged that Mamman Nur was the mastermind behind the attack and offered a 26 million ($160,000) bounty. Also four men appeared in an Abuja magistrates’ court charged with organizing the bombing, and were remanded in custody to a federal high court hearing.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

It is important to realize that for information or photographs to have any substantial impact, influence and effect on the society, also to make people perform, accept, or reject certain innovations, the medium through which such information comes must possess credibility. Also, the audience of the mass media is diverged, anonymous, and widespread and comprises of various political, social, economic and interest groups.

Despite the fact that photojournalists using their camera to tell stories by bring the source of the events closest to their readers, yet it needs to be interpreted most of the time even the STAND ALONE PHOTO need some wording to accompany it, called caption. However, a good photograph without caption may mean little or no meaning to some people.

Therefore, in this research, efforts shall be made on how photographs can converge message either with or without caption in reporting tragic and other events, especially how newspaper photographs tell details of the 26 August 2011 Bombing of the United Nations Office in Abuja.

1.3 Objective of the Study

1.       To show the important of photographs in newspapers production.

2.       To examine the effect of bombing photograph on general public

3.       To study how pictures converged more message than a thousand    words

4.       To x- ray the power of photographs in news report.

5.       To know the important and origin of photojournalism.


1.4 Research Questions

1.       To what extent does photographs tell story?

2.       To what extent photojournalists capture the bombing of United  States Building in Abuja and other important incidents.

3.       To what extent does newspaper houses use photograph in reporting an events?

4.       To what extent does readers find photograph interesting?

5.       To what extent does photograph capture and retain the attention of  newspaper readers.

6.       To what extent can photo complement text in news reporting?

7.       To what extent does headlines and photo scanners find photograph interesting and holding their attention?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The significant of this study aims at revealing to the media practitioners and broadcast students, the role of photographs in newspaper news reporting especially as newspapers captured the last bombing of the United Nations Building in Abuja.

The study will assist the media practitioners to know their role in keeping public informed through their camera.

It will further enable other researchers to continue from the area this study is not covered.

1.6 Scope of the Study

Although, the primary aim and objective of the project is to examine the role of photographs in newspaper reporting and production. This topic itself has limited the scope of this study through the use of United Nations Building bombing in Abuja as a case study. However, this research cannot be fully studied without considering some of the angles through which some of the national newspapers captured the incident.


1.7 Limitation to the Study

Wide research of this nature cannot be carried out without some constrains, this constrains pose a lot of limitations to this work.

¨    Duration for the research work is relatively short.

¨    Stress emanated from other academic activities is also another constrain.

¨    Little materials are also available because the work is relatively new.

¨    Financial constrain poses another challenges.

¨    Most information are gathered through newspapers and internet.

 1.8 Definition of the Terms

Photograph: A photograph or photo is an image created by light falling on a light- sensitive surface, and used in newspapers and magazines to complement stories.

Newspaper: This is a periodic publication usually daily for dissemination of information to wider readers.

News: This is timely and factual event usually of public interest reported by journalist.

Photojournalist: Photo journalists is one that report an event with the use of camera, it helps create images in order to tell a news story.

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