Columns & Blogs

Importance of captions

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but not in the newspaper industry.

Our photography staff can’t afford to let a picture speak for itself; an important part of their job is the crafting of captions that fill in any missing Five W’s (Who, What, When, Where and Why).

They double-check the jersey numbers of in-frame, in-focus players against available rosters.

They triple-check whether or not the given sports arena has recently redubbed itself in recognition of corporate sponsorship.

And so on. And squeeze it all into space the size of a Tweet.

A picture in the paper without the correct name and location, etcetera, can be a damning failure, not only to present readers, but also to future researchers — some of whom wouldn’t think to check for correction notifications in the upper left hand corner of page A2 in subsequent editions.

Which brings us to the an ongoing project at the Clark County Museum in Vancouver, Wash. — definitely outside the Mid-Columbia region, yes, but just a click or two away on your computer.

They’ve got 28 pages online of old-time photographs that have survived the ages, but lost their context.

So, the museum has found itself the custodian of photographs entitled (for now) Unidentified Group of People in Front of a Building, Unidentified House — you get the idea — as well as a few sports-related photographs.

Now, here’s where it gets interactive — the museum is offering a modest reward for identifying the who, what, where, when and why of its treasury of photographic memories.

Basic steps:

— Go to http://www.cchmuseum.org

— Click on the Contribute tab

— Click on the Most Wanted link

— On the faux wanted poster, halfway down the page, is a red Click Here. Click there.

Items of interest for the sports-minded will include photograph No. 10, a baseball team, smiles aglow with American optimism; and Nos. 13 and 14, both boxing matches — 13 has that unsettling Prohibition Era ambiance, 14 takes place at an outdoor location.

Want more?

Click on Advanced Search beneath the Clark County Historical Museum Photograph Collection banner and do a search on keyword sports.

You can also feast your eyes on the Herald’s own storehouse of sports photography at http://www.tri-cityherald.com/1418/ and enjoy any of the 75 galleries available at present.

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