Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/09/01

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Subject: Re: [Leica] PJ standards
From: "Jack McLain" <>
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2003 09:25:52 -0700
References: <>

I guess I would be equally concerned about PJ's deciding what is newsworthy
and what is not as I am about politicians deciding.  (nothing personal
intended; I am talking generically here).  I doubt anyone's ability to be
completely objective.  The inclusion of anti-Bush rhetoric in recent threads
on other recent posts on this list, used to reinforce a point of view,
illustrates my point.  I can only nope that photojournalists do as you did
with the example you cited, and shoot honestly with out any personal agenda,
and let the chips fall where they may.

It's not up to reporters to attempt to spin anything, unless of course it's
editorial content.

Jack McLain

- ----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Eric Welch" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, September 01, 2003 7:59 AM
Subject: Re: [Leica] PJ standards

> Having been a photojournalist for 15 years - I even covered John
> Ashcroft for UPI for a year - I guess my experience is that we have to
> force the issue. If politicians think they can get away with simply
> playing up to the camera, and taking powder-puff questions from
> obsequious press, they don't ever have to answer the tough questions.
> I've covered several presidential campaigns. I know how it works from a
> local point of view. There is no substance to it. It's not that the
> public can't tell it's fake, it's that there is no useful information
> being communicated and not only that, but outright lies are being
> spread.
> That may sound cynical, but why do we love to photograph presidents
> reading "Green Eggs and Ham" to school children. Does that help us
> understand how he will handle the war on terrorism? (Would that one
> would use Dr. Seuss' approach!) No, all it does is cause a warm and
> fuzzy feeling about the candidate which might actually be the opposite
> of his true feelings towards children.
> It just seems that photo ops are orchestrated to create an impression,
> regardless of whether they are true reflections of the candidates or
> not. Some are, obviously. Some are obviously not. For example, what
> about when George Bush visited Bob Jones University? Does it mean he's
> a racist?  Maybe, maybe not. When they go to a military base and drive
> a tank, what is the value of that? Why do they avoid debates and spend
> so much effort on photo ops? Becuase they are  deceptive. They are
> cheap ways to create false impressions! I  would go into some specific
> examples, but there are a lot of fans of the current administration who
> would be offended.
> Plenty of editors want to not cover photo ops. But they are afraid to
> miss something that might happen or be said, and then their jobs are on
> the line. That's because the people at the top think they know better
> than the editors who should be making news coverage decisions. And so
> the marketplace of ideas is strewn with the fast food equivalent of
> political debate. The substance is behind closed doors where the public
> can not hear what's really going on. And the politicians like it that
> way.
> Cynical? Yes. But it's not because I underestimate the public. It's
> because I know the politicians!
> I am a photojournalist who one particular politician, with a 16-year
> career in the U.S. House, claims I helped end his career  with one
> photo. How ridiculous is that? It was not a photo that could be
> described as even close to negative. His opponent in the photo (it was
> during a televised debate, and he was off-screen when I took the photo)
> looks like a deer in the headlights. But he had to blame someone for
> his defeat. And he didn't think my photo was flattering. It wasn't, but
> it was darn funny. It showed his frustration with a particularly dumb
> response from his opponent. But he chose to blame me for hurting his
> image with the public. I figure after 16 years, the people knew him
> well enough to put my photo in context. Talk about underestimating the
> public's capability to know what's going on!
> On Monday, September 1, 2003, at 06:31  AM, Jack McLain wrote:
> > But... isn't polititians acting silly also news, and isn't the
> > exposure of
> > this behavior relevent to good decision making by a voter.  It seems
> > to me
> > that you are being a bit elitist and selling short the ability of the
> > public
> > to make the distinction between spontaniety and cynical staging.
> Eric
> Carlsbad, CA
> "Going to war without France is like going
> deer hunting without an accordion. All you
> do is leave behind a lot of noisy baggage."
> --- John and Alma Dunlap
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In reply to: Message from Eric Welch <> (Re: [Leica] PJ standards)