Newsrooms see unlimited value of free wire pictures

NEW YORK: Tighter budgets coupled with expanded business coverage

may be why newsrooms are using more free photos than ever, agree photo

experts at the major press release wire services.

At PR Newswire, downloads have jumped from under 2,000 downloads a month

two years ago to an all-time high of 4,500 photos downloaded in

September 2001. Rival BusinessWire said 25,000 photos were downloaded to

date in 2001.

At smaller, niche wires, the trend is even more pronounced. Jim Sulley,

president of the wire pictures division at Medialink, said downloads for

September and October were up 600% over an average month, with 962 and

963 downloads, respectively. Even discounting photos of the World Trade

Center collapse, each month is still up 300%.

Because Internet Wire releases are transmitted in XML, which means all

elements are visible and photos do not require a separate download, the

company was unable to provide photo download figures. But Michael

Terpin, chairman and chief marketing officer, said that over the past 60

days, Internet Wire releases that included photos were accessed 10% more

than usual.

Hal Buell, PR Newswire's photo services director, said mug shots and

product shots are often downloaded as free, small graphic additions to

larger articles. Buell, who spent 25 years at the AP picture service,

said the next big bump in free photo use will come when agencies and

corporate communications department improve picture quality.

"The move now will have to be toward pictures that are more interesting,

candid, and real or photojournalistic," said Buell.

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