So when a news story on two political candidates shows one like this
and the other like this
they are not providing news, they are campaigning for one candidate over the other. Those images are from real local news stories (from philly.com) covering the NJ senate campaign of Steve Lonegan vs. Cory Booker. Guess who won, by the way.
In video, there are even more tricks you can use to subtly influence public opinion. You can intersperse footage with vignettes of people's reactions of how you want the audience to feel. You can use handheld camera shots on the parts you want people to dislike, resulting in wobbly footage that makes people uncomfortable to watch. You can have distracting background noise present in clips you don't want the viewer to engage in. Or a visually cluttered background. You can add subtle pleasant (or unpleasant) background music. You can manipulate people off camera to look happy or sad, and then film them.
The thing is that most of these things can be attributed to "chance" rather than "will" ("oh, that's just where 'X' happened to be standing"). But the truth is, a good photographer can control all of these variables, and when professional news reporters do it in stories, they are not reporting news, they are providing propaganda.
And so I am critical of "news" stories, especially "special reports." Last night I watched the ABC 20/20 special "Young Guns" - I was not disappointed. In addition to using faulty and false statistics, conflating one set of statistics with another, and devising "experiments" to "prove" guns are bad, the camera work and mood music were as expected, complete with little girls crying and clueless looking gun owners. Certainly the topic is something we should have a national conversation about, but this was not a conversation, this was a propaganda flick.
Just something to think about, the next time you watch the news.