The social impact of Bin Laden’s recent death has been incredible and it also became an incredible force across blogs and other Web sites. Countless bloggers, even those who usually don’t cover news-related topics, felt the need to peak out on the breaking story and, along the way, dip their toes into news and political blogging.
But with so much attention being focused on how blogging and social media is changing journalism, there are still scant few resources that give bloggers and other webmasters access to the media used by mainstream outlets.
The problem is that, while there are countless great sites on the Web for stock photos and other images, they are more targeted at providing attractive, but generic images for a blog post. If you need a photo to indicate friendship or represent something being locked down, these sites are great. However, if you need a photo of a recent rally in Washington D.C. or of a particular celebrity, they are virtually useless as most of the photos they have are not timely and not related to current events.
However, there are a few sites that offer news-related images for free on your site. All you have to know is where to look and how to search them correctly.
Here are some of the options to consider.
Picapp is less of a site and a search tool and more of a plugin for your site. Working with WordPress, Blogger, TypePad and other sites where you can edit the template, PicaApp automatically looks at your post, finds relevant images for it, and creates a widget that looks somewhat similar to Coverflow on various Apple products.
But what makes Picapp interesting is that it doesn’t merely locate public domain or open-licensed images. Instead, it pulls from a variety of paid stock photo libraries including Getty Images, Newscom and more. In short, these are many of the same photos that newspapers, magazines and mainstream media outlets will be using in their coverage, and likely cost them a decent amount to license, available to you for free.
The big problem with PicApp is that you don’t get to control which images are displayed, PicApp makes the choices for you. It is also worth noting that the embed is in Flash so that there isn’t much hope for SEO benefit from having the content on your site.
Still, if you regularly discuss current events on your site and have a hard time finding good stock photos to use, this may be a good way to add some visuals to your site.
2. Wikimedia Commons
For its images, Wikimedia Commons pulls from a wide variety of sources including public domain images, meaning either they are very old or were taken by the U.S. government, and Creative Commons-licensed images, usually provided by the photographer.
Though nearly all of the images in Wikimedia Commons are available elsewhere, Wikimedia makes it easy to search them and even offers tools for easy inclusion in your site.
The only caveat with Wikimedia Commons is that you have to be careful with the license of the image you are looking to use. Some, namely CC-licensed images, will require attribution and may be limited only to certain uses. As such, take a moment before you put the image in your site and make sure that you can comply with the license.
All in all, it’s a great repository for a variety of images, including many that are related to current events.
Finally, virtually any time a current event unfolds in front of any large group of people, it’s almost assured that they will be taking pictures and video of it and, as they do, they will be uploading those images to Flickr. Even better for you as a blogger, many of those images on Flickr are made available for free reuse via a Creative Commons license.
Though you can easily search for Creative Commons images via Flickr’s advanced search, embedding and attribution can be a bit of a mess. As such, you may want to look at Wylio, a service that makes it easy to search for and embed Creative Commons images into your site.
Since Flickr won’t have images for every news story, you may have to be a bit more creative when using Wylio. For example, if a story you’re writing about involves a celebrity, you may not be able to find an image directly from the event, but you should be able to easily get an image from an appearance by them to use.
That being said, with a few creative searches, you can likely find a good image for any story on a current event.
All in all, if you want to get news and current event-related images into your blog, there are many ways to do it and without paying for a licensing fee or worrying about being sued for copyright infringement.
The only caveat is that you will, in many cases, have to comply with additional licensing rules and make sure that your particular use of the image is allowed under the law.
Still, this is a small price to pay for timely, relevant and powerful images of ongoing or recent news stories. Historically, many of these images have cost quite a good deal to license and to have them available for your site for free is a very powerful and amazing thing.
If you’re a current events bloggers, this is, almost certainly, not an opportunity you want to pass up.
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I am not an attorney and nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice.