Friday, August 31, 2007

You Can't Do That in Iowa

THIS PHOTO, taken by a photographer from the Carroll Daily Times Herald in Iowa, was altered by the editors and published this week as it appears above.

The team photo, which ran with the annual fall sports preview, contains three players who were making what the editors deemed to be offensive hand gestures. A fourth player was not acting in a "respectable manner" and therefore blurred as well.

Ann Wilson, general manager and co-owner of the Daily Times Herald, told the Omaha World News that the players' action "was disrespectful to the team, to us and to women, which means mothers, sisters and girlfriends."

She continued: "Why cover it up? I think young people need to learn to take responsibility for their actions."

Did the editors over step their boundaries?

One columnist for the Daily Times Herald wrote this comment when explaining why the paper was right to censor the photo: "One interesting punishment for the offending players would have been to have them explain what it means to their grandmothers."

Are they protecting the community? Are they doing a service to the public, and to women specifically? Are they teaching these punks a lesson?

Or is this a case of righteous indignation?

Is this a newspaper simply acting as a standard-bearer for society at large? Is there anything wrong with that?


Donnie said...

If you want to run a photo, i feel it should be done as is, with no editing. Otherwise, get a different picture. Journalists are there to represent the facts, not to become the moral decision makers for the world. If they were not comfortable running the picture in whole, its like saying "We will tell you this story, but omit a couple points." Its not lying..... not REALLY.....

Come on. If you want to run a story, you present as many facts as possible. If you want to use a picture, you present it as is, or find another.

Crystal Hawkins said...

I'd like to know what the gesture was. But either way, I would not have blurred the players out. If the photo was so offensive, why print it at all? Or, why not have the school take another photo?

It seems to me that the editors are getting too personally involved with the incident, trying to make an example out of the players by showing all of their teammates but keeping them out.

I think the editors were a bit uptight. Especially where Douglas Burns suggests a fair punishment of making the three players explain what the gesture means to their grandmothers. Give me a break! I can't remember how many vulgar gestures I make in one day; kids shouldn't be punished for such a small offense. And if there is a punishment, that's what parents are for.

Geo said...

I think the two articles pretty much explain the nature of the gesture, and if you Google the name "the shocker," you might change your mind about wanting that sort of thing published.

Then again, by publishing the gesture, maybe it will become so commonplace that it loses its meaning. Everyone will start doing it, including those grandmothers the columnist wrote about. Maybe it will become a new greeting - instead of waving, everyone will start throwing shockers. Just like we in Philly say "Yo" instead of "hello."

The point is that culture and society evolves. Is it the media's role to present such gestures and ideas since it is "real," or do we try to maintain some semblance of civility (as defined by the gatekeepers at the media outlets)?

Do we simply cover society or do we try to make society better?

- George (the teacher)

Matthew Daddona said...

The issue presented here is very much related to the debate we're seeing in radio. The truth is, if you don't want to listen, change the dial. Probably the hardest thing in today's society is the notion of pleasing everyone. It's impossible. While the picture may be deemed offensive it is only reporting what took place at the time the picture was taken. Editing the picture is not teaching a moral lesson to society. It's placing boundaries and restrictions on journalistic nature.

-Matthew Daddona

Geo said...

The team posed for the photographer, so to say that this is what happened at that time the photo was taken is a little too easy. It's not like this was a spot news event or game action.

These kids made these gestures because they were being photographed. They wanted to see themselves in the newspaper flashing those gestures.

Does that change things?

- George (the teacher)

Michel'Le Daughtry said...

I agree with crystal hawkins, if the editor thought the gestures were too offensive, the photo should not have been run at all. Unfortunately it is up to the editor to do what they choose with the photo. If it had of been my decision, i would of ran the photo. I'm sure if the parents or coach felt it was inappropriate, it would have been handled accordingly. I do not think if was right of the editor to decide and blur their photos.

---Michel'Le Daughtry

John D. said...

I say the image should be run as is, no editing what so ever.
People today are too uptight about what goes into papers and on TV. I mean, to a degree, yeah, the paper shouldn't be filled with explicatives or people brandishing their nether regions on every page, but look at the way the common man speaks; If you claim you've never said a curse or made a rude gesture, the chances are, your probably a lier. I don't think this picture should be ushered to the front page exactly, but maybe tucking it away towards the middle so impressionable children can't see it wouldn't be so terrible.
Censoring the news it just as bad as lying, because your doctoring the truth and taking away people's ability to forge their own conclusion about the particular person/event.

Matthew Breen said...

The blame not only should fall on the players, but the school and the photographer. Both should have been able to make sure everyone was acting in a respectful matter, especially in such a closed environment as a team photo. Did the photographer really walk away from the shoot believing that he had a good shot? Team photos are supposed to be just the team sitting/standing in an upright matter, it's not that hard. Also, if you're going to run the photo, why bother bluring it? They shouldn't have run the photo at all, it just downgrades the look and quality of the publication.

DaVonne said...

There's nothing wrong with this paper setting the standard for society. After all isn't that one of our descriptions of a journalist? My question is were the players making "offensive hand gestures" punished by their school, coaches, or a combonation of both? If not that's where the action to correct the issue should have taken place. In addition if i was the editor of the paper and i felt the picture was offensive i would have sent the enitre photo back and asked to have it retaken without said gestures, rather than blur out the offenders and risk accidently removing another players face.

To answer the general question of protecting the community and the respect of women, they really arent protecting the community from anyone. I'm sure these players run around their community making the same gestures on a daily basis. As far as this question is concerned the Herald merely inforced that these actions were unacceptable and disrespectful to women.

Melanie said...

I believe that this photo shouldn't have been published in the paper because the students may receive the paddle from their parents, but they would probably receive a pat on the back from their friends. These teenagers obviously wanted attention when they made these gestures. Maybe not from the World, but attention never the less. I think that they should have sent this photo out to their parents only. Perhaps as a lovely Christmas greetings card.

Melodie Carter said...

In a situation like this it is difficult to decide on whether or not the editors were justified. Whatever gestures these boys made in the photo could be taken offensively and effect the topic of the initial article. Now if the focus of the article was to criticize the youth and their influences then this picture would be valiable. In a case of team wins big game... this picture wouldn't fit very well.

Aimee said...

I can't really make up my mind about this one.
I can say 100% that the newspaper should not have censored the photograph for sure.
Yet, a part of me thinks they should publish the photograph as is. Like said in previous comments, these kids knew they were being photographed, and that is the pose they chose to portray for themselves. So why not let the world see it? That is what they wanted, or they would have never given "the shocker." Also, like George said, maybe if "the shocker" gets out to the mainstream, it will lose it's meaning. Are we trying to make society better by pretending like no one on this earth gives this gesture to anyone?
However, another part of me just thinks they shouldn't have shown the picture at all. Was the picture necessary for the article? It's just a team shot. The photographer should have noticed these kids were giving the gesture and made them take another team shot. Or, maybe there is a better team shot, and they chose to use this one to make a statement that this kids are not respectful in photographs. Really, I don't think this is an important picture that needs to get out in the media. If I never saw this picture, I don't think I would be missing out on anything.
For George's question, "do we cover society, or do we try to make society better," I think it's a toss up. We should try to make society better, because maybe if they just didn't show this picture at all, it wouldn't have caused a commotion, and kids wouldn't be asking what they are censoring in the picture. Maybe it hides this negative gesture from some people, limiting it's use. But, in another way, it's the media's job to cover society. I want to know what's going on. Not like I need to be informed of the new fad gesture hitting the streets, but I don't think the media should hide things from the public that they all ready know about. It isn't their job to necessarily shield me from bad things.
It's kind of like how on the radio they bleep out curse words, when everyone knows what they are saying anyway. They don't need to censor the photo if everyone knows what is happening in the picture anyway,
But, to put all my thoughts together, the newspaper didn't need that photograph for their story anyway. And if they really felt the need to use it, then don't censor it. Young kids are acting like adults now from the media anyway, I'm sure they know what "the shocker" is, and it's their parents that should be shielding them from that sort of stuff if they deem necessary, not the media.

Katie Harrelson said...

I think that by blurring the players it's just drawing more attention to it-which was the kids' intentions in the first place. They wanted to be funny and by focusing on it they have acheived their goal. Does anyone know what the real story was supposed to be about? No-all we see is these stupid kids blurred out. I agree with Melanie- why reward them by giving them the attention they want? Run the story that the photo was taken for and forget about the idiots who thought it would be funny to "disrespect" their fellow teammates.
I also, personally, do not feel that these gestures are disrespectful towards women-I just think these kids need to grow up.

Emily W said...

I think this is an example of the media overstepping its bounds, though the situation is definitely a sticky one. It seems to me that the editors wanted a certain picture for the story, one they didn't have, so they edited what they had to serve their purpose. While I agree and understand that the alleged gestures are inappropriate for a wide range of readers who may have picked up the paper (as they were demeaning to women, and inappropriate for children to see), the media is supposed to report things objectively, as they are. In editing this picture, I almost felt as though the editors were misrepresenting the team; creating a false identity for them. It seems like the editors were trying to make the team fit the mold of their story (which, being a sports preview, was probably trying to paint the team in a positive, support-rallying light) rather than letting the team's actions speak for the team itself. While I see why there was a need for the picture to be edited, I think that the editors essentially ended up lying to the public in doing so.

Anonymous said...

Enea said...

I think that the photographer should take the picture again. The guys who were not acting in a "respectable manner" should have had a punishment. The people who will see this picture might be puzzled about the guys who were blurred.

Anonymous said...

I agree with a couple people on this board that said that they should have either run the full picture or not at all. It looks lazy on the part of the journalist. He or she should have taken the picture over. Journalists portray 'truths', they're not suppose do DECIDE them.

Interestingly enough, in our highschool cheering section, their was a habit of "throwing up the shocker" sign.. which is incredibly offensive, if you know what it is. The funny thing is, are games were run live and we were notoriously known through the area for being very rowdy and spirited. We gained a lot of attention and were on live tv a lot during the games. Somehow, broadcasters never caught on, and their are images of students with shocker symbols in photographs and clips on tv.

-emily hooper.
red headed girl in first row.