Today’s Daily Mirror front page is a hard-hitting one. Foodbanks have helped feed almost 350,000 children in the space of a year – 930,000 people have been helped in total.
It’s a scandal and it’s growing.
So naturally, it’s a big story and the Mirror is right to highlight it on its front page today.
But has it got it right?
The striking image of a crying child looking directly at you means you have to take a good look at the front page. The headlines suggest that she’s crying because she’s hungry.
So far, so textbook journalism.
But, as has been quickly pointed out by fellow journalists,it’s not a picture taken specially for the article. The clue is in the picture credit on the website version of the story. It’s a stock photo from the Getty/Flickr.
Nick Sutton, a BBC journalist who tweets #tomorrowsfrontpages, revealed that the picture was taken five years ago and was about a little girl crying over the loss of their ‘pet’ earthworm. It’s about as far removed from the subject matter as possible.
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) April 15, 2014
Is it ethical? Is the Mirror just using this to manipulate us into thinking something else?
The Mirror has a history of ‘shock issues’ – back in the 60s and 70s it would run stark, memorable front pages on issues of the day, including seal clubbing and elections. This is a front page that harks back to its glory days.
However, it’s a mistake to use a stock image in this way. They could have called on the services of Griffin, one the best modern cartoonists, or found a way of emphasising the million people helped without resorting to manipulating emotions using a picture of a child upset because of an earthworm.
And don’t even get me started on the Mirror’s use of the typeface Interstate for its headlines… but that’s a whole other blog.