The story dominating the news this week is the slightly cringey punch-up between media moguls James Packer and David Gyngell. The fact that the fight was between billionaires fails to make the story anymore remarkable, but what is interesting, is that News Corp managed to make national headlines just through their use of watermarking!

Apparently they paid in excess of $200,000 for the images, and to be sure that no one else used them, they used extremely enthusiastic watermarking across the photos, effectively blocking the vision. Within 30 minutes of the images being published online both #NewsCorp and #watermark were trending on Twitter, panel shows on TV were discussing it and it became a story in its own right. A good thing for News Corp? The watermark story dilutes the focus of the original story and prompts the nation to mock, but at the same time they’ve created publicity, and all pr is good pr or so they say…

So if a picture paints a thousand words, what have people read into it…? Not only has it led to a number of spoof images being created, but it’s sparked huge social media banter:

“When will #watermark have its own Twitter account?” “Has anyone seen the News corp water mark with Packer and Gyngell fighting in the background?” etc. And even one of News Corp’s own publications got in on the action:


“A picture paints a thousand words” is a quote coined in 1921 by Frederick R. Barnard. He was commenting on the value of graphics in an article. So even back in the Gatsby era people knew the effectiveness of an image. So why as media leaders did News Corp think it was a good idea to ironically distort their $200,000 images when the intent was to dominate headlines with them? It seems they have maybe forgotten the photo’s purpose entirely and their key story was made a joke of across the media industry as a result.

Pictures are so important in communication, whether it’s through creative photography or video. The demand is high, because as time goes on, businesses understand the importance of telling a story, whether it’s through a video newsletter; promotional video or marketing campaign. Maybe News Corp won’t be quite so protective next time and let the photo do its job and tell the story…

Lucy Helliwell