Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Print media watch (online edition)

What, offhand, would you say was the subliminal message behind this conjunction of text, image and caption?

I want to know who chose that photo to illustrate that story. I want to know why he (or she) (hah) chose it, and from how many available images. And I want to know how many people it got past to make it online, and I want to know who they were, too.

And then I want to know how many of these people have wives, mothers, sisters, girlfriends or daughters, and I want to know how they'd feel if one of these women were sexually assaulted by a mob, and if there were a press story about it, and if that press story were accompanied by the most revealing photo of the victim that could possibly be found.

And if anyone says 'Oh they're just doing their job to sell their product,' I will remind that person of the phrase 'Nuremberg defence'.

UPDATE: The photograph originally used to illustrate the article to which I've linked has now been removed. It was a large photograph of the journalist from the waist up, looking particularly glamorous in a white evening dress that showed a great deal of tanned cleavage. I assume the Age got a lot of flak about it. If so, good.


Nicole said...

Where to start? Fairfax's print and web editions are run by different parts of the empire.
The people running the websites don't seem to have a clue about the photos they run.
Why isn't there an editor who says no to pictures like this?
As in: ''no, you're implying she's wandering around Egypt with her tits on show and no wonder she got raped.''

It's hard to believe the person who subbed that story and/or chose that photograph read the story or understood what it meant.

The drive to get tits on the page over-rides all.

Stephanie Trigg said...

Yes, I had the same response. Fascinatingly horrible. Let's see a picture of the editor in his bathers while he responds...

May have to write stern letter suggesting the same.

Nicole said...

The photo has been replaced with a Reuters pic apparently taken just the assault took place.

One of my 18-year-old sons said he thought it was ''a really nice photo.''

I told him what I thought the problem was and his response was: oh, I see, yeah.

That's the problem we're dealing with here.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Nicole, I thought they might do that. I bet they got a lot of flak. Would love to see Stephanie's stern letter.

Your nephew is right, of course, it is a really nice photo. However.

The Elephant's Child said...

And the concerns about her relationships raised at the tail end of the story are tacky too. And have nothing to do with the assault. Aaargh and Grrr.

Stephanie Trigg said...

To The Age,

I was shocked by your initial choice of a photograph to illustrate your story about the sexual assault on US reporter, Lara Logan, on your website (Feb. 16). I see you have now replaced that image with a more appropriate professional photograph, but I am curious about the process that led to the initial decision.

Why would you think it appropriate to illustrate a story about a professional woman injured in her workplace with a picture of her in a revealing and low-cut evening gown? Are you trying to suggest that women are most newsworthy when they are so dressed? Perhaps you still think, against all the evidence, that violent sexual assault has something to do with sexual desirability? I suppose you think that pictures of women’s breasts will sell newspapers. That may be so, but does that make it good journalism?

I’d be inclined to suggest you appear in your bathers to explain the decision, except that we know that this kind of reciprocity is only ever tokenistic, and never truly reciprocal. Whatever the reason, your decision further naturalises the old-fashioned sexualised objectification of women. This might be the world in which you live: it is not the world we want our children to inherit.

Yours sincerely,

Stephanie Trigg

We'll see if they print. I'm sure there are punchier ways to make the point, and I bet they have received a bunch.

Lord Sedgwick said...

As the editor of the Fairfax online edition might well have said, "The News of the World and I are just good friends."

KJ401 said...

Still reeling from Media Watch on Monday night pointing out that a regional newspaper used a shot of Auschwitz's railway entrance to illustrate a story about line closures....

Who is making these decisions?

Lucytartan said...

'Some previous luncher had left the lunch edition of the evening paper on a chair, and, waiting to be served, I began idly reading the headlines. A ribbon of very large letters ran across the page. Somebody had made a big score in South Africa. Lesser ribbons announced that Sir Austen Chamberlain was at Geneva. A meat axe with human hair on it had been found in a cellar. Mr justice —— commented in the Divorce Courts upon the Shamelessness of Women. Sprinkled about the paper were other pieces of news. A film actress had been lowered from a peak in California and hung suspended in mid-air. The weather was going to be foggy. The most transient visitor to this planet, I thought, who picked up this paper could not fail to be aware, even from this scattered testimony, that England is under the rule of a patriarchy.'.
From, of course, 'A Room of One's Own'.


I have far too many occasions to think of this passage.

Link said...

I'd guess it was the first photograph of Ms Logan some probably male came across and he probably thought nothing of the fact that it was fairly revealing. He (?) probably just thought it was a nice photo. (The white dress with the deep cleavage shot--the one I originaly saw too and thought hmmm.)

I don't tend to think there was any intended malice. Just the normal LCD kind of mindlessness of a young man who thinks photo of blonde with lots of cleavage=good. That to my mind is even more of a travesty than the intended evil of a calculating editor who can be shown to understand his corrupted thought processess. The dumbfuck is just the dumbfuck and it doesn't even occur to him that there is anything wrong in the first place. I'd say the original photo was the work of one of these and more's the pity.

I somehow doubt that Ms Logan would have herself objected all that much. I do hope it wasn't a kind of 'poster shot' image.

OT but why were the press so bloody unpopular in Cairo? Its not altogether impossible to speculate as to why they might be a bit on the nose, but they were afterall pretty important in broadcasting what was going on to the heaving masses. It wouldn't have been much of a revolution with no media reporting it.

Ann O'Dyne said...

Ms Logan was wearing an overcoat when she was bashed in Egypt.
The cleavage was at a Los Angeles gala evening awards event, and
probably not the most remarkable.

It has always concerned me that a person suffering a trauma has no control over their own privacy.
When Gabrielle Giffords was shot recently she would be mortified to know that the world saw her pantyhose completely exposed.
If I am ever unconscious and in deshabille and bloodshed, I don't want it on the 6pm news.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean, Ann O`Dyne, speaking as one who by gender could never be in an analogous situation.

However, to my mind the most poignant aspect of that photo is the third black-shirted fellow from the left: the spectacled one holding her hands. Very matter-of-fact, but its a totally human moment.


Mary Bennet said...


and to think I got all huffy because the Daily Telegraph captioned that photo (in such a way that the cleavage wasn't visible) with "60 Minutes Girl Raped".