It really is true that a picture tells a thousand words.
Well actually, nowadays it's more likely a picture fills a hole in your paper a thousand words would have gone if you had the staff to write it.
Early on I learned (was mercilessly beaten) to realise that pictures in this job are worth far more than words.
After all who wants to read about a spectacular event when they can hopefully see it in an image (yes, ok, I now include video into this blog - just don't ask me to embed anything).
Who wants to read about a dead mum/kid/scoutmaster without seeing what they looked like before their awful newsworthy demise.
A good pic can make a shit story sing. A page with nothing worth reading on it look can look like you actually have some tales with a clever use of a pic.
Nationals understand the power of the pic. Most decent pictures in the nats don't have anything resembling a story to go with, but who cares. It is why most of the red tops have an equal or bigger budget for pics than news.
It's why freelance snappers earn more on day rate than hacks - despite the fact most sit in their cars scratching their arses when you are door knocking like a mad-man for a collect.
If news is king. Pictures are the emperor.
I reinforce the pictures, pictures, pictures mantra into my guys every day. It's gradually getting through.
If something explodes in the High Street I call my snapper before my reporter. I shout 'don't forget to ask for pictures' on every death knock.
Punters are getting more media savvy. We pick up an increasingly amount of reader pics on our breaking news stories.
On a ring-in, and if they are nearer than my lot, I ask them to whip out their mobile and take some snaps.
Mostly shit, but I like choice and we have had some front pagers from them.
I want images on every lead or it ain't a lead. Front page pic must be worthy of front page.
It doesn't happen every week and I know it can't but why strive for second best?
First call should be to get your snapper rolling, you can always call him back when if it's a false alarm. No harm in sending early because that extra five minutes could mean getting your guy to the scene before the tape goes up.
Words you can get on the phone.
Pictures show you were there.