This has been a pet peeve of mine for years so I’m thankful that Jeff Sonderman at Poynter is taking a look at the use of stock photographs on news web sites. They are misleading to the viewers, essentially visual lies – would you ever use a stock story to go along with an actual photograph?
Seems absurd, doesn’t it?
So, if your CMS or design standards require you to have a visual, how about a simple map? I can’t tell you how badly I want my local publications to use maps so I can see where something happened. Since I don’t spend all my time driving around anymore, there are lots of street names I don’t recognize – why not give me a quickie locator? It’s not hard and it adds a lot more information than a generic, stock image.