Medium Should Stop Showing Featured Images

Photo of six sheep in a green pasture. Four of the sheep are reflected in a pond in the foreground.

 Photo by author taken in County Sligo, Ireland.

Nobody judges the story by the photo anyway 

Any photo posted on Medium that was not taken by the author is at risk for copyright violation. Plus, the photos are too small to see when browsing for a story to read.

Problems with photos

Stock photos

Most Medium photos from free sources like Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay only tangentially relate to the article. Plus, readers repeatedly see the same photos = boring.

Wikipedia Commons 

Many photos sourced from Wikipedia Commons are not properly attributed and thus violate copyright laws. People are getting sued. With Wikipedia Commons, it is hard to be sure that the attribution is adequate and therefore legal.

AI images

Now writers are using AI to create images for their stories. Often, the results are impressive. However, in many cases, the copyrights of legitimate artists are being violated. Eventually, people will get sued.

What is the point of requiring a photo or image?

I read Medium articles from my phone or tablet. While scrolling for stories to read, the photo images are too small to see clearly. Even on a laptop, the images are only one square inch. Only when you click onto the story, can you see the image clearly. At least on my WordPress blog, the featured images are large enough to clearly see when scrolling for articles.

While some featured images on Medium are clever, interesting, and relevant, most are absolutely pointless. For many writers, the act of including a photo is not about the creative process, it is more about checking a box to meet the requirement of most publications. Unless it is an original photo taken by the author, the image does not interest me or encourage me to read the story.


Photos and images on Medium do add color to the otherwise white background of the platform. Where featured images appear to the right of the story when scrolling, Medium should place the author’s profile photo. The tiny circle to the left of an author’s name is too small to see. By replacing the story’s featured image with the author’s profile photo, the reader will immediately be alerted that the story was written by a favored writer. Even if you go to a Medium writer’s personal page, the author’s profile photo is less than an inch in size – too small to really appreciate.

Bottom line

Unless the featured image elevates the article, there is no need for it. However, personal photos by the author do enrich the reading experience. They can be placed below the subtitle and scattered throughout the story. Forcing authors to include a featured image in order to be accepted by a publication is just going to cause Medium writers aggravation and in some cases a lawsuit.

(C) Joyce O’Day 2023. All Rights Reserved.

AI was NOT used in the creation of this article.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s