March 31, 2014 in censorship, Citizen journalism, digital cameras, digital literacy, digital media and teaching, digital photo ethics, digitally altered pictures, DSLR photography, First Amendment, image ethics, media accountability, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, Media representation, Moral complexity, national press photographers association, photo digital manipulation, photo digital manipulation survey, photographic ritual, Photographs and Politics, photography, photography and history, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Photoshop, Picture Editing, pictures and emotions, propaganda, public journalism, Social Media, social media, technology | Permalink | Comments (0)
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It's easy to poke fun of politicians and religion -- some news outlets excel at it. In the end, though, cheap shot journalism -- one that is not fair-minded, balanced, or honest -- represents the crumbling of a vital relationship between freedom of expression and democratic civics.
Surveys tell us that distrust of mainstream media remains at the bottom of respectability.
Now, instread of taking the high ground, and treating the public seriously, much of the media stands around wringing its hands. It's business as usual. But making fun of someone's faith is hitting below the belt. In the end, taking on a person's belief system distracts from electing a president with integrity and vision. In the Newsweek article that accompanies the image, the writer even asks if Mormonism is a Christian faith. There is an assumption here based on the image as well as in the reportage that Romney's faith makes him unfit to govern.
The media, like a school yard bully, plays a critical role in giving this nation a president "it" thinks it deserves. Bombast and senstationalism appear tools of the trade.
Trying to understand a complex issue is never easy, but there is no excuse for not giving a candidate a chance to defend themselves. . Not a lot of people understand Mormonism, maye they understand the faith less than they do Islam. Religion is often the target of satire because it is based on differing belief systems. Connecting Romney's faith to his ability to govern undermines the public's ability to assess his competency as a future president.
As many public relations specialists will say, negative press is better than no press at all. But there is something inexpliably wrong here. The digitally altered image of Mitt Romney dancing around is a spin on the current Broadway play "The Book of Mormon." The mash up is supposed to be satrical, and suppose it is. But there is something else at work here. How is possible to make an informed decision about a candidate when the media has already visually defamed them? Yes, it's funny, but selecting a U.S. president is not. The Newsweek cover featuring Romney, the dancing Mormon, deflects from a larger and more critical debate about religion and politics in this country. For decades the media has treated the two forces as separate, but politics and religion are hard wired into our system of discourse and governance.
The first repsonse to a critique such as this one is that wouldn't be the first time politicians have been accosted verbally or visually through media satire. During Obama's campaign he was attacked by the right-wing press as being a Muslim. The smear campaign was aimed planting a seed of doubt -- The attacked attempted to make a connection between the candidate and extremists. Now, Romney's faith is under attack because Mormonism is a mystery for many Americans. When we don't understand something, we make fun of it. That's the way it works. Guilt by association, or in this case faith.
June 07, 2011 in Agenda Setting, altered images, Barack Obama, celebrities, censorship, Dennis Dunleavy, elections, Family Values, First Amendment, iconic images, Journalism, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, Mitt Romney, Mormons, Newsweek, photo fakery, Photography and society, Political pictures, Political satire, politics, Politics and Photography, Press Freedom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: Media and Mitt Romney, media and politics, media criticism, Mitt Romey and politics, Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney and Mormons, Mitt Romney and Newsweek, mormons, Newsweek, Newsweek cover, religion, satire
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It's in the news today. The International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday said it has commitments from seven countries, including the United States, to protect journalists in war zones.
The countries are promising to educate soldiers and security forces about international humanitarian law, which ensures the safety of journalists. Ironically, while the U.S. signed on to the pledge the Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-partisan human right organization, found that the U.S. military is responsible for the deaths of 16 journalists in Iraq. Spain also indicted three U.S. soldiers last April for the 2003 killing of a Spanish journalist in a Baghdad Hotel.
This doesn't mean that the deaths of journalists at the hands of Americans are intentional. After all, journalists are known to get in the way at times.
The big picture question to ask, then, is why now?
Why has the Red Cross pushed for a reaffirmation of Geneva Convention guidelines on the safety of journalists?
Perhaps it is because during the past two years more than 125 journalists have been killed trying to do their jobs.
Perhaps, that because in 2006, The United Nations Security Council forcefully condemned the frequency of violent attacks against journalists in many part of the world.
or (acknowledging the most cynical possibility)
Perhaps, because people just don't give a damn about the press or the media conglomerates that own the news these days. Maybe people are just to busy with their every day lives to care. Where's the public outrage as attacks against journalists escalate? Many people, especially younger Americans, express their distrust in the media because they see journalists as pawns of industry and government. From this perspective, it is easy to see the cynicism seep into public conscious. The truth is that lots of countries will talk a great game about how they want to protect the press in conflict zones. The reality is, unfortunately, that it is very hard for them to really do anything about it.
The U.S. military is confirming that soldiers had deleted media photographs and video after an incident which killed up to 10 civilians on Sunday.
Rahmat Gul, a photographer working for the Associated Press, said U.S. soldiers took his camera from him in order to delete pictures he made showing the wreckage of a destroyed four-wheel drive vehicle. The soldiers then returned the camera. A TV crew covering the same incident also had tape deleted.
Later, a U.S. military spokesperson said "The journalists had gone beyond a security perimeter and had been asked to remove their images to "protect the integrity of the investigation."
Even if the soldiers deleted the pictures, a simple $30 digital picture software recovery program could most likely restore the files. So, why did the soldiers want to stop the press from making pictures of the scene?
Could the Marines have been attempting to cover up the incident?
The Marines say no. In fact, the official response is that the soldiers were trying to keep the images from the world because they feared the scene had been tampered with prior to the arrival of the media. Major William Mitchell later told AFP, "We have reminded our forces in the area that only in extreme circumstances is this practice condoned."
This is an interesting remark coming from a person of power, because in a war zone all circumstances are EXTREME. In a split second, then, how are soldiers, who are caught in the heat of battle or the aftermath of something else terrible, expected to make decisions about what or what not to allow the media to cover?
Given the recent history of this conflict, along with all the bad press the military is getting, Mitchell's logic is fuzzy and may be impossible to carry out in the future. In other words, what the major and others are telling us here is that we'll try really hard not to censor the press, but we can't guarantee it. The big picture reality is that no matter what the truth may be in sorting this mess out, the wrong message has already been sent to the world.
For the U.S. military, another firestorm of criticism may be waiting to erupt as early reports of the incident raise more questions than answers about how the troops dealt with the press on the scene.
It could be that any public relations efforts by the Marines may be already too late to restore public perception and faith in the war effort given the legacy of charges of abuse aimed at U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
March 05, 2007 in Associated Press, Battle-Hardened Troops, censorship, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, images of violence, Iraq, Iraq War, Journalism, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, photographic ritual, photography, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, prisoner abuse, visual culture citicism, visual journalism education, visual perception, visual violence, war photography, ways of seeing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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News about how photography is becoming increasingly diverse in our digital universe in all over the Internet these days. Stories about how our visual culture may be changing how people act in front of and behind the lens of a camera. However, human nature and needs based on fears and desires, remain the same.
People remain obsessed with making and sharing images with each other, but now there is the Internet and digital technologies to make it all that much easier.
This week alone, on the seedier side of life, there are stories about how Scottish troops made mobile phone pictures of each other allegedly taking drugs while on duty, nude photos of actress Jennifer Aniston appearing on the web before the release of her latest movie, a teen prosecuted for taking naughty photos of herself and her teenage beau and e-mailing, the arrest of an Australian man for taking dozen of digital photos up women's skirts, a host of embarrassing and personal photos of a young woman in a dressing room mysteriously appearing online after being dropped off for processing at Wal-Mart.
We hear a lot about how digital photography is helping people become more productive and creative in recording their daily lives, but what we don’t often understand is how the darker side of human behavior is also coming out. We know that citizen journalism is now joining forces with mainstream media, camera phones are being banned from public places, and new laws are prohibiting pictures such as those from Ana Nicole Smith’s autopsy from ever being published.
Are digital cameras enabling deviant behavior more now than in the past with film cameras?
February 12, 2007 in camera phones, celebrities, censorship, Citizen journalism, consumer culture, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, Education, high school life, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, mini-digital video, Mobile Journalists, moblogging, new technologies, observation, Personal Media, photo collage, photo digital manipulation, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, teaching, technology, visual culture citicism, visual journalism education, visual perception, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, ways of seeing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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On Friday, the Associated Press announced it will be working with PublicNow.com to expand access to news as it happens. PublicNow has a membership base of more than 60,000 citizen journalists in 140 countries, while the AP remains the world's largest news gathering operation with more than 4,000 employees.
Potentially the partnership could revolutionize mass media by doing away with the boundaries between amateur and professional content production. It will be interesting to see how PublicNow contributors understand and comply with the conventions, standards, and ethics of mainstream journalistic practice.
According to Managing Editor for Multimedia Lou Ferrera:
"In the early stages of the relationship, AP bureaus will work with NowPublic communities in selected locations on ways to enhance regional news coverage. National AP news desks also may tap the network in breaking news situations where citizen contributors may capture critical information and images. NowPublic also will help AP extend its coverage of virtual communities, such as social networks and contributed content sites."
The collaboration, however, seems to signify a trend in the industry to capture competition for content in an already content-saturated media environment. A few months ago, Yahoo and Reuters joined forces by inviting citizen shutterbugs to submit images of breaking news events.
Although the merger of professional and citizen-sourced content is inevitable in an age of instant communication, the road ahead may be a bit bumpy for an industry already struggling to maintain credibility and public trust.
As images and events continue to flood into the newsrooms of AP, Reuters, and other organization from citizen-sources, what is to prevent public relations firms and the government from trying to make propaganda appear more legitimate. If I worked for a company that wanted to get on the news wires to sell a product or brand a name, I would be thinking really hard right now how to take advantage of the collaborative trends.
Already, news seems so saturated with an array of pseudo-events that stretch the definition of what constitutes relevant and significant information.
Ultimately, wire services and Websites will be challenged to ensure that citizen-sourced media is legitimate and credible. At the same time, maybe the prevailing public perception of mass media as a trustworthy source of information is so low, that it won't really make much of a difference.
Michael Tippett founder of PublicNow.com write in a recent post about the Anna Nicole Smith notes that many people are becoming concerned that the news is increasingly sensationalist and celebrity driven.
What really struck home was Tippett's comment on how news has changed in recent years.
"Where news goes wrong is when it goes from being the messenger to being the message. Where people get bored is when news produces celebrity instead of reporting on it."
February 11, 2007 in blogging, censorship, Citizen journalism, Copyright, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, diffusion of innovation, digital cameras, early adopters, Education, Fair Use , First Amendment, Internet Learning, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, media consolidation, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, Mobile Journalists, Personal Media, Photo-ops, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, point and shoot cameras, Press Freedom, propaganda, public domain, public journalism, PublicNow, Reuters, ritual, semiotics, signification, Southern Oregon University, technology, visual culture citicism, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Yahoo News photos | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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The Carnegie-Knight Inititative for the Future of Journalism has recently released a manifesto challenging educators to be at the frontiers journalism.
As the manifesto argues, "It is hard to think of a profession of greater public importance than journalism. What journalists publish and broadcast constitutes the chief means whereby citizens inform themselves about public life in their societies, enabling them to play the role of active participants in democratic life."
It is imperative that higher education responds to training the next generation of journalists in a way that fosters and protects democratic values.
"In today's changing world of news consumption, journalism schools should be exploring the technological, intellectual, artistic, and literary possibilities of journalism to the fullest extent, and should be leading a constant expansion and improvement in the ability of the press to inform the public as fully, deeply, and interestingly as it can about matters of the highest importance and complexity."
As social institutions, public higher education and journalism have been under attack from privatizing forces, cultural changes, and market demands.
Despite the challenges, journalism and higher education have an enormous role to play in an open and respresentative democracy. We must work relentlessly to train our students "to operate at a higher ethical and intellectual standard."
Most of the educators I know epitomize this mission. They are not only committment to teaching basic skill sets, but also the social, economic, ethical, and therotical contexts in which news is produced. As the manifesto suggests, it is incumbent upon educators, who are at the frontiers of journalism, to create, "well-trained, well-educated, honest, trustworthy, curious, intelligent people who have devoted their lives to their profession."
January 29, 2007 in Broadcast Journalism, Carnegie-Knight initiative for the future of journalism, censorship, Citizen journalism, Civil Rights, Dennis Dunleavy, Education, First Amendment, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, media consolidation, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, Photojournalism, photojournalism education, Southern Oregon University, teaching, visual journalism education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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llustration by Dennis Dunleavy
A posting on the Democratic Media.org website called “The Internet: Democracy or Ad System?” raises some serious concerns over how the Internet is being taken over by mega-corporations run by people such as Rupert Murdoch.
Jeff Chester, Executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy contends: "The Internet's potential to serve as a diverse and democratic medium in the U.S. is now threatened by largely invisible, but powerful, political and economic forces. The nation's largest telephone and cable companies have lobbied the Bush Federal Communications Commission to eliminate the key federal rule that has enabled the Internet to flourish as a dynamic medium of expression and commerce."
For Mark Cooper, Director of research at the Consumer Federation of America, "There is a race to claim the soul of cyberspace between a democratic, public sphere inhabited by citizen journalists, independent artists, and open social networks, and the corporate mega-corporation websites streaming their product over exclusive high speed connections.”
The potential of the camera phone image to speak truth to power cannot be underestimated. As James Fallows observes, "History is driven by ideas and passions, and by unforeseeable events....History is also driven by science and technology."
When technology slams headlong into inhumane and unjustice acts, people begin to take notice. Today, we are on the verge of a digital revolution with the emergence of cell phone technologies -- one that can be seen as a positive force used to promote democracy or one that may eventually be used to destroy it.
Pictures from Abu Ghraib of U.S. soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners,the tsunami disaster, the subway bombings in London, the execution of Saddam Hussein, the massacre of Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines in Haditha, and more recently the photographs of Egyptian police torturing suspects suggests the emergence of a hyper-mediated surveillance society.
The motivation to photograph atrocities by the perpetrators, such as in Abu Ghraib prison, Haditha, and in Egypt indicates how people in positions of power and control blindly operate by a code of conduct that is beyond any law -- human or devine. The soldiers and police making these images possess a sense superiority and impunity toward those they deem to be the enemy. The pictures they make may be made as evidence, entertain, or propaganda.
When 21-year-old Egytian minibus driver Imad Kabir was hung upside down and sodomized, his torturers recorded the proceedings with a camera phone and then transmitted the video to the Kabir's co- workers as a warning. The pictures eventually made their way onto the Internet and two police offers were jailed in the incident.
Originally conceived as an act of oppression against those opposing the government's authority, the Egyptian camera phone images reveal the often rumored and insidious truth about the mistreatment of prisoners. It is extremely difficult for any government to deny such cases of abuse when the evidence appears so indisputable.
The camera phone images we have seen in recent years are glimpses of a world we have heard about but have seldom seen. Images of atrocity and abuse, revealing the darkest side of humanity, speak truth to power as history unfolds before our eyes.
January 19, 2007 in Canon EOS Digital Cameras, censorship, Citizen journalism, Civil Rights, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, diffusion of innovation, digital cameras, Education, Family Values, First Amendment, images of violence, Internet Learning, Iraq, Iraq War, Israeli Lebanon conflict, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Mobile Journalists, moblogging, Moral complexity, new technologies, photo digital manipulation, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, pictures of the year, point and shoot cameras, prisoner abuse, propaganda, public domain, public journalism, Saddam Hussein exectuion , signification, Southern Oregon University, technology, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, visual violence, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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July 07, 2006 in censorship, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, Education, Internet Learning, Iraq, Iraq War, Jarhead, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, visual journalism education, war photography | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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Two years have come and gone since the pictures of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq opened our eyes to what may be one of the most critical and defining moments of this conflict.
The graphic scenes of humiliation and torture that began to appear in April 2004 subvert any claims to a moral victory in Iraq by U.S. and coalition forces. More than 275 images and nearly two-dozen videos made by guards at the prison are now part of our national collective memory of the war.
Reduced to grainy snapshots depicting the horror and deprivation of prisoners of war, a simple truth reveals how capable we are of inflicting injustice on humanity.
The reality recorded here, of course, is not new in the history of so-called civilization, but it does provide “hard” evidence of our ability to do great harm in the name of all that is good about our country.
What these images signify for me may upset many people, but I feel compelled to speak my mind.
Naturally, the actions of a few do not represent the majority. Yet, pictures like those from Abu Ghraib send a strong message to the rest of the world -- a picture that paints a very sobering and despicable characterization of America as the so-called leader of the free world.
The Abu Ghraib images represent far more than the brutality depicted.
These pictures contradict the image we hold about ourselves as a fair-minded and good-hearted people. In a sense, we reject what these images tell the rest of the world about us as a people because we do not believe that we could ever commit such heinous acts.
The pictures signify a mockery of everything we are taught to believe in about our nation. For me, the reality of these images destroys any illusion I may have had about America as peaceful, tolerant, and just nation. These pictures shock me into a realization of how callous and inhumane we can be under the pretext of liberation, democracy and freedom. The shame of these images will haunt future generations of Americans and it is a legacy that I am not prepare to ever get comfortable with.
Has anything changed in the time since the release of the first set of prison abuse pictures?
Has justice been served?
A few people are now in jail and forgotten in the eyes of the media. A few people have been demoted in rank and have returned to obscurity.
Through the lens, a central narrative in this conflict has been dutifully recorded for prosperity -- it’s not a pretty picture.
How can we look at these images of tortured prisoners and see human beings?
One reading of these images is that they are not pictures of people at all. These are pictures of things.
Once pictured, people are reduced to objects of possession and personal property. Those who dare to understand the implications of such images are singed with grief.
Something insidiously evil is at work in the world today and we’ve got pictures to prove it.
These images – a naked truth revealing how human beings are strapped, bloodied, humiliated, and stripped of dignity – signify a larger tragedy in the cultural pathology of a society saturated with visual messages. We may look at these pictures and remain unmoved. We may see them but still be blinded by apathy and what can only be called the propaganda of mass distraction.
Does the insistent bombardment of visually mediated messages depicting suffering and deprivation reduce our capacity to feel?
Sontag observed, “In a modern life – a life in which there is a superfluity of things to which we are invited to pay attention – it seems normal to turn away from images that simply make us feel bad.”
Among the pile of images that emerged from the cameras of prison guards at Abu Ghraib, a few have become emblematic of the human rights scandal.
I would like to discuss the power of one of these images as a social artifact of our times. More importantly, I would like to explore how picture editing plays a significant role in the construction of public perceptions of events.
When the New Yorker, and later CBS’ 60 minutes, brought the images to light in April 2004, a picture showing a prisoner standing on a box in a Christ-like pose, captivated the imagination of millions.
Wires had been attached to the hooded man’s hands, and he was told that if he moved he would be electrocuted. In the picture originally released by the mainstream media, there is an aesthetic balance to the frame. The prisoner is centered against a background of yellowed tile.
The hood, poncho, and outstretched arms of the man provide a sense of symmetry. This geometric composition contributes to the viewer’s reading by directing the eye to the dominant subject. The composition is compelling and appeals to our imagination and emotions.
Sarah Boxer of the New York Times contends, “Of all the photographs of American soldiers tormenting Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison, one alone [the hooded man] has become the icon of the abuse.”
Boxer’s analysis of the image suggests the power of photography to evoke deep emotions. Boxer writes:
“As a symbolic shape, the hood is almost as strong as a cross. The difference is that the hood has generally been the sign of the persecutor, not of the victim. It is the uniform of the executioner, the sheet of the Klansman, the mask of Death. Until now. In these images, you can see the hood's meaning begin to change and take root.”
Theorist Barry Brummett observes that audiences expect “the world to be mediated to them dramatically…. because the media do so by calling up standard, recurrent, culturally ingrained types of dramas.”
It is not clear to me that the image of the “hooded man” was cropped intentionally to solicit more immediate reaction and pity from viewers. If the picture was cropped it was probably done more out of routine than overt censorship of other seemingly less important elements in the frame.
This is where the tale of the two images comes into conflict, because it is the extraneous elements cropped from the frame that reveal another reality – one that shows the amateurish competence as well as the indifference of the photographers.
Within the past year, a second uncropped version of the “hooded man” image has surfaced.
In this frame, a guard is show to the far right of the image. The prisoner remains centered but the space on either side of him provides a context that is missing from the cropped version.
According to Salon, the Criminal Investigation Command (CID) caption on the picture states that it was “11:04 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2003 and placed in this position by Spc. Sabrina Harman and Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick II. Both took pictures as a joke. Instructed if moved would be electrocuted. Staff Sgt. Frederick is depicted with a Cyber Shot camera in his hands.”
This caption becomes important when compared to same image released by anti-war groups on the Internet, which suggest that Frederick is clipping his nails.
What are the ethics of cropping an image in a case like the hooded man?
It is important to note that I am assuming the two images come from the same source here. I am only guessing that the first tightly cropped frame is version of the second, more loosely composed image. Nevertheless, my speculation brings up an important issue for students of photojournalism.
Can a crop change the meaning of an image? If so, can the crop be considered to be unethical by contemporary standards and practices?
For Jason Fithian, a senior photojournalism student at San Jose State University, “I totally think cropping out the Sargent changed the whole perception of the image. While it is closely cropped, it gives a sense of isolation, as if nobody is around.
“I think cropping the image does change the integrity of the image and gives the viewer another story. Closely cropping the image can mislead readers and is clearly a violation of ethics.”
Fithian researched some of the National Press Photographers Association and Associated Press guidelines governing photographic manipulation to make a strong case for manipulation.
Fithian suggests that cropping may be considered a form of manipulation since it significantly changes the meaning of the image.
Looking at ethical guidelines, NPPA's ethical policies, number six states, "Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images' content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects."
One of AP's guidelines state, "Minor adjustments in Photoshop are acceptable. These include cropping, dodging and burning, conversion into grayscale, and normal toning and color adjustments that should be limited to those minimally necessary for clear and accurate reproduction (analogous to the burning and dodging often used in darkroom processing of images) and that restore the authentic nature of the photograph." Again, cropping out the Sargent takes away from the authenticity of the photograph and does not give the audience an accurate portrayal of what is actually occurring.
One could possibly believe wartime censorship is at hand for the elimination of the Sargent While these images are a few years old, it was at a time when there was more support for the war. As more and more people began to find out what is really going on overseas and how the US participates in torture and in violation of UN Human Rights, opinions change.
I believe the public does have a right to know what is going on overseas and to crop out the Sargent in the image is clearly not giving the citizens an accurate portrayal.
May 17, 2006 in America's Army, censorship, Civil Rights, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, Documentary Photography, Education, Freedom of Information Act FOIA, images of violence, Internet Learning, Iraq, Iraq War, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, photo digital manipulation, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, point and shoot cameras, Press Freedom, prisoner abuse, propaganda, public domain, Southern Oregon University, Susan Sontag, teaching, technology, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, war photography | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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People have always been known to get a little grumpy around photographers, but since 9-11, something akin to a New Cold War on civility and civil rights has erupted in our society.
Just ask Thomas Hawk, a shutterbug living in the Bay Area. Hawk is an active blogger and posts his pictures and words on different sites such as blogspot and flickrnation. The other day while Hawk was making pictures of a building in San Francisco, a security guard came rushing out waving his middle finger at him.
So today there I was minding my own business shooting 45 Fremont in downtown San Francisco when all of a sudden a Shorenstein Company employee security guard decides to give me the finger in my photographs of the building. Next thing you know I get the typical hassle. Except normally when the guards come out all polite like and all this guy instead comes out middle finger a blazing and telling me that I'm not allowed to photograph the building from the public space.
Marshall McLuhan’s saying that “the medium is the message” pretty much sums up this encounter. In this case, the guard is the medium and message.
No needs for words any more. If you don’t like someone taking a picture, even when they have every right to do so, just ward them off with a one-finger salute.
Jack Anderson spoke about our constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Anderson contends:
" Our Founding Fathers understood that government by its nature tends to oppress those it has power over. Our Founding Fathers decided that there must be, there had to be, there should be and there is, an institution that keeps an eye on government. That is what we do. There is nothing in the Constitution about the freedom to practice law.
There is nothing in the Constitution about the freedom to practice medicine.
There is nothing in the Constitution about the freedom to engage in commerce.
There is nothing in the Constitution about teaching or learning. But there is something in the Constitution about the freedom of the press.
Our Founding Fathers understood that it would be necessary to have a watchdog on government, and that is our role: to keep a watch out."
--Jack Anderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, in 1999 speech at Utah State University.
Thanks to Ted Pease for the Anderson Quote!
In response to this situation I sent an email to the public relations office of the Shorenstein Company who manages the property and hires the building's security services. I wanted to share my letter on my blog because I think it raises some interesting questions about human visual behavior and the blogosphere.
Dear Press Relations:
I am a journalism professor investigating human visual behavior, especially in photography and society.
I found this blog post on April 17, showing a Shorenstein employee intimidating a photographer with what is considered in our culture a rude gesture. I am absolutely confident that you train your security people to act professionally and I find this behavior not only offensive personally but also indicative of the times in which we live.
The blog is called Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection and has generated interesting feedback from the photojournalism community about the issues raised by the guard's perception of the photographer's activity as criminal. As an instructor who teaches public journalism, blogging and visual culture, I find this case to be very interesting. Do you think the guard would have acted this way if he had known that his picture would been broadcast over the Internet within hours? There are several things that we can learn from this incident:
1) Technology democratizes communication to a global audience in an instant.
2) Since 9-11 we have entered a sort of New Cold War on civil rights and civility in this country.
3) We are all stakeholders in a representative democracy, which becomes ever more significant during a time when the lines between private and public are seemingly being redrawn for us in a digital age.
My final suggestion here:
Your employees should know the laws of this land, because if they don't they may make your company look silly on someone's blog.
Dennis Dunleavy, Ph.D.
April 19, 2006 in blogging, censorship, Dennis Dunleavy, Education, Family Values, Internet Learning, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Mobile Journalists, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism education, Press Freedom, Southern Oregon University, teaching, Thomas Hawk, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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Freelance photographer Ben Hider got more than he bargained for when he tried to make a few photographs of some courthouse flags recently. Raising his camera to makes a few snaps, Hider quickly found himself surrounded by three police officers who demanded he stop taking pictures immediately. Hider did as he was told, but ended up sitting through a couple of hours of intense questioning for his slight transgressions.
According to a WABC-TV report, Hider recounted his story for the media: [They} "Emptied my pockets, searched me, frisked me, started telling me about the recent terrorist threats in America over the past five years and 'haven't I been watching the news?'"
Since 9/11 photographing anything in public has become increasingly problematic for legitimate photographers reporting on life in America. People have become ever-more paranoid about having their picture made in public and authorities are ever-more reactionary to anything different. I guess taking pictures is considered an act of terrorism these days, at least maybe it is in New York.
Apparently the slightest suspicion of activity that hints of "terrorism" can now trump an individual's constitutional rights.
Terror is an enemy that lives in the hearts and minds of people because it is an abstraction. Terrorism, as an act of terrorists, is a tactic used by groups and individuals to disrupt daily life as well as organized systems of governance. Once we begin to live in fear of one another out of the suspicion that someone is out to do us harm, those that use use terrorism as a tactic have won.
Ben Hider found out the hard way. Even though he has a right to photograph in public, other folks -- those holding authority -- see otherwise. For these individuals, Hider's innocent picture-making exercise was an act of terrorism.
It's not especially difficult to imagine the sense of danger police must have to live with in a post-9/11 world. For police and other public service employees, the days of giving citizens the "benefit of the doubt" may be over. We live in a "better safe than sorry" reality now -- one that impinges, at times, on our personal liberties and freedoms -- whether we like it or not.
Her name maybe not be the subject of banter around the dinner table, but she has not been forgotten. Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter working for the Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped in Iraq on Jan. 7.
While the world waits, mostly in silence, for news of her fate, the campaign to secure her freedom continues.
The Commitee to Protect Bloggers has begun a campaign to circulate a video produced by the Christian Science Monitor asking the Arab world to help free Jill Carroll. The campaign is aksing bloggers to post the link to the video so that it can be circulated as widely as possible.
Why should we care what happens to Jill Carroll?
Carroll is not some bit player in this drama called Operation Iraqi Freedom? Carroll's abduction, and Daniel Pearl's before her, signifies the dangers of war for people dedicated to reporting the truth as best they can report it. Journalists who venture into the dark times of war understand the risks they take. Why do they do it? For the fame, for the money? Most are either famous or rich, but they continue to go so that we can see the world, in all its horror and glory, through their eyes.
Carroll's fate lies in the hands of individuals who are blinded by a singular hatred of all-things Western. Carroll is not being held against her will because she is Jill Carroll, she is being held because in the eyes of her captors she represents the West in its war against Iraq and Islam.
Carroll and other journalists are easy targets in places like Iraq. They don't carry guns, just cameras and notepads. They place themselves in harm's way so that others can see the harm we are doing to ourselves and others. Anything bloggers can do to keep Carroll's kidknapping in the spotlight is a small victory for humanity.
If you've been wondering what is happening to mainstream journalism these days you'll have to read G. Pascal Zachary's piece "A Journalism Manifesto" for an interesting perspective on this field.
Zachary challenges some of the myths about journalistic tenets such as objectivity, fairness, balance, and credibility. In an age of "instant" everything, Zachary argues that in, "trying to be fair and balanced, journalists have failed their subjects and themselves."
With the increasing use of the Internet as the flashpoint for information and misinformation the days of pack journalism are pretty much over, Zachary contends and I concur.
I think Zachary is on target when he comments:
The internet demolished the journalism herd, driving holes into the fraternity's defenses and exposing most journalists as poorly prepared, fearful of making grievous errors and reading from a brief and superficial script. Blogs and other forms of "citizen" journalism can never replace the breadth and quality of professional journalism, but the immediate effect of this torrent reportage has been to destroy the credibility of mainstream journalism.
Today, we stand at a fork in the road of journalistic practice, as technological innovation allows for more participatory communication. Zachary's fear of blogs and "citizen" journalism may be unfounded in that ultimately it is for the reader to decide how much trust they place in the information they receive.
The direction journalists decide to go in these days depends largely on the enormous commercial pressures being placed on the industry. Responsible journalism, unfortunately, has increasingly succumbed to explicit and implicit forces governed by management directives that favor shareholder interests over the public's good and well-being.
Perhaps, like those other buzz words such as "fair", balanced", and "objective" journalism, the lofty ideals of socially responsibility can be also added to the list of modern mythologies.
February 11, 2006 in Broadcast Journalism, censorship, Education, G. Pascal Zachary, Journalism, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, new technologies, photography, Photojournalism, Press Freedom, sustainability, teaching, technology, visual journalism education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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The Joint Chiefs of Staff have an interesting way of interpreting taste in art. This week they fired off a letter to the Washington Post criticizing a cartoon that puts the human costs of the war in Iraq under a microscope.
On Sunday, the Washington Post ran a political cartoon by Tom Toles depicting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld writing a prescription for a heavily bandaged soldier without arms or legs.
The cartoon got the goat of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who responded with a letter to the editor condemning the cartoon. Writing for the Joint Chiefs, General Pace complained that Toles’ cartoon was “beyond tasteless” and “reprehensible.” Unfortunately, the Joint Chief's comments are unsubstantiated and knee-jerk. The cartoon is not picking on U.S. soldiers wounded in combat, it takes to task the political interests who put these men and women there.
It is hard to imagine how the Joint Chiefs could have missed the signification of this cartoon. In art, as in life, there is always a certain tolerance of ambiguity in making sense of anything, but Toles’ message is crystalline.
Toles’ role as a political cartoonist is to draw attention to abuses of power and social injustices. Toles’ message brings into focus the very human and very high price Americans are paying for this war.
Toles is not responsible for the more than 16, 500 wounded U.S. troops in this war. Toles did not send 2,449 coalition forces to their deaths in Iraq. That honor must be firmly placed on the shoulders of Mr. Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration.
Toles’ drawing uses metaphor, symbolism, overstatement and exaggeration to make an important point -- one that tosses the government’s flippant “battle-hardened” rhetoric back in its face. The immediacy of political cartoons, with their simple lines, often triumph over words. I would challenge any opinion writer to articulate Toles' message as concisely and clearly.
February 02, 2006 in censorship, Current Affairs, Education, George W. Bush, Howard Kurtz, Iraq, Iraq War, Journalism, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Political Cartoons, President Bush, Press Freedom, teaching, Tom Toles, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, Washington Post | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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More journalists died in the line of duty in 2005 than in any other time in modern history. Headlines such as "Media Death Toll 'Worst' in 2005" and "2005 A Record Year for Journalist Death" herald the somber news today from the the International Federation of Journalists which reported 150 journalists died last year. Of note, more than 45 Iranian journalists were killed in a plane crash Dec. 6, 2005 in Tehran.
According to the International News Safety Institute, "Most of the journalists died
violently - at least 68 by gunfire, 7 by bombs, three by beatings and
two, in Iraq, reportedly beheaded. More than 70 of the dead may have
been targeted because of their work. Others died in crossfire or other
random incidents of violence."
The Committee to Project Journalists found that the Philippines, Iraq, Colombia and Bangladesh were the most murderous places on earth for journalists.
In May, 2005, a CPJ study noted that beginning in 2000 a majority of journalists killed on duty who died on duty "were hunted down and murdered in retaliation for their work." According to CPJ, more than 120 of the 190 journalists killed since 2000 were targeted.
Perhaps we will never see such news in the United States since the majority of journalists killed were not American. Most of the journalists were native to the countries they reported on, placing themselves and their families even more in harm's way. Some of these individuals sacrificed their lives for U.S.-based wire services and news organizations, but we will never know their names or the circumstances of their deaths.
What is the price of news around the world these days? News gathering can be a bloody business at times, that's the risks journalists face. Unfortunately, based on this recent trend, it appears that it is certain to get even bloodier.
There are many wonderful things about this brave new world of increasingly cheaper and faster modes of communication. New technologies provide us with the potential to connect smaller communities with larger communities of like-minded souls.
At the same time, there is this feeling that these same modes of communication are also fragmenting groups of people according to niches and special interests. Traditional mass audiences – one that mainstream advertising and big media has used to sell us products and presidents – are splintering.
Control over content on the Internet is, at present, no longer entirely predictable or guaranteed to be authentic. Reliability of content verifiability and veracity is critical.
In fact, the new technologies that allow us to keep connected and expand our communities is much more susceptible to surveillance and tampering from outside, often anonymous sources. Nevertheless, the convergence from analog to digital is well underway; with it, however, comes this present period of sociological adjustment, insecurity, and vulnerability.
It is reasonable to be suspicious of our virtual environments.
With every new opportunity on the Internet for learning and building community, serious challenges emerge. Because the realm of the Internet is a public space, the best and worst of human nature will prevail.
Weblogging or blogging provides an excellent example of how susceptible our emerging communication platform is.
Recently, a teacher who was conducting some research on the Internet contacted me about my blog, which she claims contained pornographic material on it. She discovered my blog during a search and was shocked to find advertisements for male reproductive organ failures and other such things.
Can people hack into a blog and post offensive material without the author’s permission or knowledge?
Yes, unfortunately they can. Absolutely. There are several ways people can manipulate the content of a blog, even if there is the author believes the material to be secure.
One way is to hack around passwords and security, and another way is to use special software that inserts ads and content automatically through a third-party.
According to Kasia Trapszo, a very informed blogger who writes about new technology, “It's most likely that the person visiting your weblog had adware installed on their computer which inserted pornographic ads into the web page.”
This type of pernicious behavior has been around for a while and will clearly accelerate as traditional forms of communication increasingly give way to the online environment.
Although this is obviously an embarrassing situation to be burdened with, there may be some important lessons to be learned.
The socially responsible things to do in this situation are to: (1) not overreact; (2) fix the problem as quickly as possible; and (3) investigate the cause of the problem.
In this case, I sent a note of apology to the teacher, deleted my blog from the Internet completely, and started exploring how these things happen. What I discovered was sobering. Blogs are susceptible to attack and defacement. In this case, my blog became the target of an individual (some malicious cretin) with too much time on their hands.
We live in a world now where data-mining, aggressive advertising, Trojans, dialers, malware, browser hijackers, government surveillance and info-tracking has become part of everyday life. This, unfortunately, is a much darker side to the silver-lined blogging cloud we have come to know. It is a brave new world on the Internet and it is far from risk-free.
December 24, 2005 in advertising, blogging, censorship, Current Affairs, data-mining, Education, Google, hacking, Internet Learning, Media Ethics, moblogging, new technologies, podcasting, Press Freedom, sustainability, teaching, technology, typepad, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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After calling into question the reliability of using WikiPedia as an online reference resource, a study conducted by the journal Nature found only minor differences in the accuracy of information when comparing Wikipedia's science references to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
The study is significant for the open-source software concern, which depends on more than 13,000 volunteer editors around the globe, many of them experts in his/her field.
The AP reports that two of Poland's leading newspapers joined Amnesty International in protest against censorship in neighboring Belarus by blacking out their front pages.
The ad from Amnesty International on the bottom of this page reads: "This is what freedom of speech looks like in Belarus."