Posts tagged ‘journalism’


Naturally, a profile piece that I found so impressive comes from The New Yorker. It may not just be the writing, though David Grann never leaves me bored (and it’s a very long piece). The story, “The Chameleon,” is about a con artist, who didn’t con for money.


Continue Reading Aug 12, 2008 at 5:41 pm 1 comment


This question is certainly interesting from a journalistic perspective, but at the same time the question seems invalid. Jeff Winbush, a freelance journalist, writes that he is a black man first and a journalist last, and so he supports Obama first rather than maintaining complete objectivity as a journalist. But there are two arguments that I propose that makes this question obsolete.

Continue Reading Aug 9, 2008 at 10:45 am Leave a comment


I really enjoyed this article by war photographer Warren Zinn, who was embedded in Iraq for almost two years. He tells his story about a famous photograph that he took of a U.S. army soldier and wonders if his photo had anything to do with the soldiers death recently in the U.S.

Jul 14, 2008 at 6:17 pm Leave a comment


Last week the bloggers at finally announced the winner of their unretouched cover photo image contest. The winner was Redbook’s July cover of Faith Hill. Check out this link to see exactly how much is changed:

Wrinkles under her eyes were removed, her right arm entirely disappears, her neck and back is made much skinnier, her left arm and cheeks are thinned out, even her earlobe is changed slightly.

The thing that really bothers me, and I’m convinced should bother everyone else, is the effect of retouching images like this. Women magazines make profits by including stories about how to look like models and celebrities when the celebrities don’t even look like that! People over exercise, over diet, have eating disorders and plastic surgery all to look like someone that nobody really looks like. No photo should be retouched for those reasons, and Hill’s photo never needed to be retouched because she still manages to look gorgeous in the real photo.

Jezebel tells another story about a “cover lie.” One featuring Oprah who extreme diets just to look great on the cover of Vogue. Oprah justified her dieting by telling the BBC that, “if you want to be on the cover of Vogue and Anna Wintour says you have to be down to 150 lbs – that’s what you gotta do… I didn’t think for one moment, ‘Now I’m going to be a Vogue model’ nore even did I think I could hold that weight.” Jezebel explains perfectly why this story, and the image lies that most magazines perpetuate, is so disturbing:

“…there was someting spooky beneath the Vogue image… namely, the idea that even a woman who had made her fortunate validating women’s strengths, hopes and dreams – and becoming one of the most powerful people on the planet in the process – would so eagerly and willingly help to perpetuate the ‘cover lie’ of a medium that has made its mark by invalidating women’s strenghts, hopes and dreams with an endless parade of stories on how to be thinner, sexier, trendier and – ughh – better in bed.”

Don’t think this stops with only women’s beauty magazines. My first post on this blog was of Andy Roddick on the cover of Men’s Health whose arms were not his own. Major newspapers and newsweeklies do this, too, in order to make pictures more dramatic or more sensational to grab readers attention. Perhaps a resurgence of yellow journalism? It certainly sounds similar, “little” exaggerations within stories versus “little” changes in photos. Either way it’s lying.

Remember that famous National Geographic pyramid picture? Digitally manipulated, too. Take a look – ( The two pyramids could never be pictured in a vertical frame in real life, so editors took the liberty of simply moving one pyramid closer to the other for the cover. Not such a big deal perhaps, but if a major national magazine that is (supposedly) dedicated to its reporting and photography can manipulate their photos, why wouldn’t every other news source if it might mean more profits and better photographs?

Or how about that Time OJ Simpson cover? ( The cover was Simpson’s mug shot, which appeared unaltered on Newsweek, but was changed on Time in order to make OJ appear darker and more sinister. In a country with African Americans comprise over 40% of prisoners (Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2002), Time’s deliberate decision to make OJ blacker plays directly into the unconsious stereotypes of many Americans.

Frankly, we are on a slippery slope when news is no longer credible to the public. Pictures are worth a thousand words, which makes tampering with images in magazines that much worse.

Check out this site for a listing of a bunch of the more famous doctored photographs starting in 1860! Also pick up a copy of Fred Ritchin’s “In Our Own Image” written in 1999. Though outdated, the book describes the history of doctoring images, how and why it is done and the social implications of such practices. Even glancing through the book will show you just how “normal” doctoring photos has become.

Jul 21, 2007 at 11:08 pm Leave a comment


This past Tuesday England’s Prime Minister Tony Blair gave one of his last speeches before he leaves office at the end of June. He said a few things in particular that I feel hit the issue right on the head, and I would argue that the media in the US is much worse than England and Europe. Here’s the excerpt:

Blair discusses the negatives of recent changes in the media industry, including 24 hour news, the rise of internet news and its affect on traditional news.

Here’s the excerpt (from the International Herald Tribune):

“The [media] are not the masters of this change but its victims… The result is a media that increasingly and to a dangerous degree is driven by ‘impact.’ Impact is what matters. It is all that can distinguish, can rise above the clamor, can get noticed. Impact gives competitive edge. Of course, the accuracy of a story counts. But it is secondary to impact.”

This is the reason why I refuse to watch TV news in the US. Even CNN has become all about ratings, and if news is on 24 hours a day the channel resorts to sensationalism in order to attract enough viewers. The whole Paris Hilton in jail saga has really exposed this issue. (Even Conan O’Brien discussed this with his guest last night, Tim Russet from Meet the Press.) CNN spent more time on Paris Hilton than any other news story. Any story about Paris will probably bring in more viewers, but shouldn’t there be one news channel that is committed to reporting real news?

Jun 13, 2007 at 7:10 pm Leave a comment


Rolling Stone recently announced that its magazine will now be printed on paper that has less of a negative impact on the environment. The magazine will be printing on paper supplied by Catalyst Paper, ( a Canadian paper mill, that plants the same amount of trees that it cuts down. The newly planted trees will not be cut down in the future. Though this certainly is a step in the right direction, the move is drawing criticism for not being green enough because the mill does not use recycled paper. Using recycled paper is certainly the most green step any magazine can take, yet no national magazine has committed to this. Magazine editors are concerned that the quality of recycled paper is not good enough, particularly for photos, but others argue that the technology of recycled paper has increased and has made the quality as good as non-recycled paper. As of now, the decision to switch to recycled paper is based on balancing green issues and the quality of the magazine.

Jun 11, 2007 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment


Check out the latest issue of Men’s Fitness featuring Andy Roddick on the cover with some new arms. Men’s Fitness decided to Photoshop Andy’s arms to make them appear bigger and noticeably not his own. Andy Roddick admitted that he laughed at the photos, which are what most bloggers are doing as well. Most reactions from the public are disappointingly apathetic. It seems no one cares about doctored photos. While making someone’s arms look a little bigger to sell some magazines may not be such a big deal to an average citizen, but if doctoring photos becomes common practice throughout the media, as it has already become with celebrity magazines, it will slowly errode away the credibility of all journalism. When the media is no longer credible or transparent, can the public believe anything they are told by journalists?

Jun 11, 2007 at 8:30 pm Leave a comment

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