Propaganda and Photojournalism

 

Stop what you’re doing and watch this pretty incredible video on photojournalism and propaganda, from Ruben Salvadori.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ph64vPINE0Y

There’s more on this project, and the controversy it has caused, in this article. Particularly timely given that 2011 was “the year of the protester.”

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @NathanielWright

    During the Occupy protests, Peter Tilden often had reports from the Occupy Wall Street camp. These were typically interviews with a young WABC reporter in New York City. During one of these interviews, Tilden asked the young woman if her parents were worried for her safety. He framed the question with the caveat that the group possibly included free riders who might present a danger to a young woman, especially late at night.

    The reporter’s response was enlightening. She informed Tilden that she new many of the people there and that she had participated in other protests with them when she was in school. She said that these were “her people” and that she was safe, and that her parents would praise her for being there because they had been protesters in their youth as well.

    It was a beautiful moment. I only wish I had been recording the show.

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  2. Profile Photo Inactive
    @FordPenney

    As a brand designer we have a saying at the office, “Everything is marketing”. From Procter and Gamble to national politics, marketing is the message. How we ‘dress’, how we look, what we say and especially what we don’t say.

    My original background was in television and the ‘message’ was crafted well before anyone left the building and if that ‘message’ didn’t pan out then there was no story. Meaning if reality didn’t reflect the ‘message’ and couldn’t be ‘made to fit’ then find one that did.

    Its easy to become a bit of a cynic when people like me and the monster machine of software and talent can carefully craft a message/image to exactly reflect a point of view. So does anyone actually think this isn’t being done by Code Pink as well as the PLO? Beware the story if you don’t know the ‘storyteller’ and especially if you do know the storyteller, remember the ‘story’ part.

    BTW- Ben, thanks for the efforts you put into ‘Coffee & Markets’, Brad is great fun and Cianfrocca is a dangerously insightful and intelligent!

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  3. Profile Photo Member
    @flownover

    green-helmet.jpg

    This man was photographed frequently by the Reuters/AFP/AP crowd . He became known as the “man in the Green Helmet” from his many unexplained appearances. In this grisly shot, it was said that he brought the dead child from a nearby hospital with him for purposes of dramatic intensity. The PLO has some of the world’s most evil handmaidens in their quest to drain money from other countries coffers while they build a prison for their people.

    The man in the Green Helmet has a name and the story is all here.

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  4. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CrowsNest

    While this video exposes some outright media manipulation and propaganda and we need more work like it that sheds light on deliberate efforts to misrepresent the truth for some ulterior agenda, we shouldn’t lose sight of the other more nuanced and subtle lesson that this particular video also teaches.

    And that is: in addition to outright and dishonest manipulation by some reporters, there is another, more subtle and insidious kind of distortion that occurs merely by bringing a camera into any situation. Just the presence of a reporter with a camera changes the situation because it changes the behavior of the participants once they know they are on film.

    This latter kind of distortion is independent of the reporter’s intention and cut’s across all media of this kind regardless of ideology. It is a flaw within the medium itself.

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  5. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlueAnt

    You don’t have to go to Palestine to see this effect. Months ago, when an Occupy movement hit a brand new city, their first march was often outnumbered by the cameramen covering it. Even among themselves, the Occupiers were outnumbered by their own cameras and cell phone cameras.

    Find out when your local Occupy yokels are staging an official march. Go down to watch one in its entirety, and stick around for 20 min after they finish. You will see most of them posing for other protesters, waving signs and fists, striking the defiant pose on an otherwise isolated street corner.

    (My current theory is the signs are irrelevant as messaging devices, they are simply invitations to strike up conversations with other protesters. The ones with the most interesting signs tend to get the biggest impromptu circle of friends.)

    Maybe citizen journalism is something to be celebrated. But it’s still journalism, and still subject to the traps of journalistic bias.

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  6. Profile Photo Inactive
    @barbaralydick
    Robb Penney: the ‘message’ was crafted well before anyone left the building and if that ‘message’ didn’t pan out then there was no story. Meaning if reality didn’t reflect the ‘message’ and couldn’t be ‘made to fit’ then find one that did.

    A friend of mine was a photojournalist for PBS during the race riots of the mid-60’s. That is, until he could no longer participate in sham reporting. He was sent out to film one cold night in Pittsburgh, but because there was no activity, decided to go back to the station. He was told to stay there and to follow the lead of one of the other journalists – who then proceeded to set up a shot of a fire in a large steel drum some had lit to stay warm. The resulting TV story showed a close-up shot behind the drum with the flames appearing quite high in the foreground, with the accompanying report the station wanted to tell. He turned in his resignation the next day.

    Sad to say, over the following 50 years, the techniques and accompanying reporting (read: propaganda) have only gotten more sophisticated and even more insidious.

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  7. Profile Photo Inactive
    @HVTs

    This cover shot almost makes reading the book superfluous, but buy it anyway to support honest journalism.

    The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy by Stephanie Gutmann (2005 Encounter Books)

    PS: Newt Gingrich was correct in saying this is a propaganda war.

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  8. Profile Photo Member
    @Misthiocracy

    Back when I was a Communication Studies student (no laughter, please), even before the Internet and inexpensive digital photo manipulation, textbooks were full of examples of the ways that evil, right-wing, corporate hegemons manipulate news images to fit their preferred narrative.

    Sigh…

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DocJay

    Wow to Flownover and all these examples. Thanks for the articles Ben.

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @wilberforge

    Reminds one of how the Marx Brothers could capture attention so well. Save that took some real filmaking get folks to buy swampland in Florida.

    Someone once said there is a Brightness Dial on the TV.

    Why does it not work !!!! Applies elsewhere and takes more time than anyone wants to commit to.

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  11. Profile Photo Inactive
    @HenryScanlon

    In my experience photo journalists possess one or several of the following qualities:

    #1: A desire to make a living taking pictures.

    #2: A willingness to undergo discomfort.

    All of the conflict-zone paparazzi being discussed in this thread have those first two.

    #3: A tolerance for (and sometimes an attraction to) very significant amounts of personal danger.

    Now the number is dwindling considerably.

    #4: An aesthetic sensibility. You’d be surprised how few photojournalists have this. For them it’s about being in the right place and grabbing the shot. Tim Page, the infamous Vietnam era photographer is a good example. He was notoriously willing put himself in a greater degree of danger than most of his colleagues and was thereby able to capture some extraordinary images, but this without (IMHO) any artistic sensibility at all.

    (continued next comment)

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  12. Profile Photo Inactive
    @HenryScanlon

    #5: An obsessive desire to discover, capture and reveal truth. The camera becomes the instrument of the “visual voice”, and finding that voice is a lifetime endeavor. Those having all five are extremely rare. James Nachtway and Don McCullin come to mind, off the top of my head.

    My point is this: All kinds of people, including many photographers, become “captured” by the propagandists. But some do not, and you will not see them lined up with the others, because they are elsewhere, and, on occasion they produce images that possess the kind of eloquence that can make a difference, and for which we can be grateful.

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  13. Profile Photo Thatcher
    @JamesGawron

    Ben thank you very much for this,

    Israel must deal every day with huge surronding heavily armed states. One such state Iran has openly stated intent to destroy Israel and one presumes murder all of the Jews (perhaps they would afford conversion by the sword but that remains to be seen). Next Israel faces every day armed terrorist mini-states, Gaza, the West Bank, and Southern Lebanon, where rocketing of Israeli civilians is constant and full terrorist commando mini-attacks are launched against civilians. Finally, the internal Islamic population of Israel, although treated better in this advanced, socialized democracy then almost all of the Arab states, is incited to violence constantly. There are many Islamic members of the Knesset (Israeli Parliment) and the extremely liberal Israeli Supreme Court defends their rights in a ludicrously overt fashion.

    These propagandistic parasites foment hatred of Israel world wide. The plot is to pressure Israel in the General Assembly of the United Nations. Obama has been aiding this conspiracy. Bebe Netanyahu was just too tough for them. They failed but probably only with the help of Gd. Who knows what next time will be like. Let’s remove President Zero in 2012 ASAP!

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  14. Profile Photo Member
    @StuartCreque

    When Frederic Remington cabled W.R. Hearst to tell him there was nothing interesting to illustrate in the Cuban-American War because there wasn’t any war fighting going on, Hearst is supposed to have replied, “You furnish the pictures – I’ll furnish the war.” Glad to see that nothing has changed since 1897: the agenda of the media outlet drives what story they tell, and they consider merely reporting facts accurately as an abrogation of their duty to shape our opinions.

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  15. Profile Photo Inactive
    @KCMulville

    It’s more than propaganda: in some cases, it’s the foundation of national defense.

    When I was touring in Central America, the Nicaraguan government was quite open and honest about their strategy: they called it the “body-bag” strategy. They wanted American journalists, especially those with cameras, to go right to the front – safe and unimpeded.

    They said themselves that their army could not repel an American attack, but they could inflict heavy casualties in the first wave. If the cameras sent back pictures of dead American soldiers – in body bags – then the American public would be so upset that they’d pressure the government to call off the attack. They were counting on American cameras as a crucial part of their defense plan.

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  16. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @EJHill

    Why we’re lucky to have the nation founded in the media dark ages:

    Modern-Washington.jpg by Robert Upshur Woodward

    Even as he strode to his place on the balcony of Federal Hall, George Washington began to have his doubts about his ability to lead the nation, close staffers of the new President tell The Courant.

    Almost from the time his unanimous election by the Electoral College was announced, Washington has been forced to defend his positions on slavery, whether or not his first cabinet picks truly reflected the makeup of this new nation and his reluctance to initiate a peace process in the growing conflict in Paris.

    Even as the new Vice-President, John Adams, was being sworn in, CNN began showing live images streaming in from the streets of Paris with the growing discontent indicating that the reign of Louis XVI could be becoming to an end. The Franc trended downward on the currency exchanges, as did the Pound Sterling on fears that a “European Spring” could spread to the streets of London…

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  17. Profile Photo Thatcher
    @JamesGawron
    EJHill: Why we’re lucky to have the nation founded in the media dark ages:

    by Robert Upshur Woodward

    Even as he strode to his place on the balcony of Federal Hall, George Washington began to have his doubts about his ability to lead the nation…

    …Even as the new Vice-President, John Adams, was being sworn in, CNN began showing live images streaming in from the streets of Paris with the growing discontent indicating that the reign of Louis XVI could be becoming to an end. The Franc trended downward on the currency exchanges, as did the Pound Sterling on fears that a “European Spring” could spread to the streets of London… · Jan 2 at 11:57am

    Edited on Jan 02 at 12:37 pm

    EJ, Oh are you ever right. Can you imagine these pampered and perverse media idiots at Valley Forge. Can you imagine these media monkeys crossing the Delaware with Washington as he attacks the Hessians in the dead of Winter.

    Wouldn’t you just like to throw some of them into the freezing Delware

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