The use of technical metadata in still digital imaging by the newspaper industry

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Title: The use of technical metadata in still digital imaging by the newspaper industry
Author: Vogl, Howard
Abstract: Newspapers are increasingly capturing images digitally. Included with these digital files is technical information about the conditions of the image and the conditions surrounding image capture. Technical metadata has the potential to be a valuable resource in image reproduction, management, and archiving. Nevertheless, even though digital devices capture a large amount of technical metadata, the use of such data in the digital imaging workflow is not widespread. The use of technical metadata requires a uniform set of technical metadata standards and an open encoding scheme to embed data. From their inception, image file formats, such as TIFF and JPEG, have allowed the inclusion of technical metadata tags. The Exif schema has extended the metadata inclusion capabilities of both of these formats. Additionally, XML has emerged as a standard for users to add metadata to image files. Consequently, organizations such as the World Wide Web Consortium and Adobe Systems all support XML. Moreover, organizations such as the Digital Imaging Group (DIG35) and the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) are defining standards for technical metadata inclusion. The purpose of this study was to answer two fundamental questions about technical metadata in the newspaper industry. First, it assessed the ability of technical metadata to improve the newspaper digital imaging workflow; and second, it determined how technical metadata could be used to preserve the integrity of newspaper digital images. This study examined five large newspaper organizations: The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, USA Today, and The Washington Post. Based on interviews and questionnaire responses, each organization?s use of technical metadata in the digital imaging workflow was examined through case studies. Interviews were conducted with those individuals responsible for image capture, adjustment, database management, and output. Furthermore, participants were asked to rank the importance of selected fields of technical metadata through a questionnaire. It was found that the use of technical metadata classified by NISO as Basic Image Parameters, which includes file size, type, and compression, was universal in newspaper organizations. The use of Image Creation metadata was not widespread with the exception of two fields that established date and time of capture and assigned each image a unique identifier. Image Performance Assessment metadata, such as test targets, was not widely used except by The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. Change History fell victim to the short cycle time in the newspaper industry, and for the most part, a history of change was kept at various handoffs in the digital workflow through versioning. The use of technical metadata to improve the digital workflow, to an extent, was at cross-purposes with newspapers? need to visually examine each image to determine its usefulness. However, software designed to visually present technical metadata through a well designed graphic user interface was popular. It appeared that technical metadata had the potential to benefit newspapers when repurposing images for other media. Additionally, large newspaper organizations were creating their own image databases; while the use of technical metadata in these archives was unclear, it would be prudent to include too much technical metadata, rather than too little. The foremost concern of all organizations was preservation of the editorial integrity of the image. Newspapers defined editorial integrity as the ability to capture as much detail of an event as possible, and then present that information to their readers in a truthful, unambiguous way. Research pointed out that image reproduction quality was only one of a series of variables that determined newspaper image quality. With the advent of digital photography, photographers are editing more in the field, and as a result they are making decisions regarding image content. The use of technical metadata has the potential to provide greater tractability of these outtakes. Additionally, the industry is moving toward the Camera Raw file format to acquire image data that is unprocessed by camera software. The adjustment of Camera Raw files through a GUI, and their subsequent conversion to another file format, represented a de facto use of technical metadata to preserve editorial integrity.
Record URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1850/1108
Date: 2005-07

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