One of this week’s readings that I found particularly interesting was the NPR article, “People Wonder: ‘If They Gunned Me Down,’ What Photo Would Media Use?” by Bill Chappell.
A blog called “Which Picture Would They Use?” displays a variety of photos of several young black adults. Each of them posted two pictures of themselves: one that showed them in a respectful setting and another that was a little bit less appropriate. For example, one girl posted a picture of herself smiling and looking proud in a cap and gown next to a selfie where she doesn’t look as proud or happy.
The people shared these photos with the question: which one would the media use?
Would media choose to show an unflattering photo along with the headline “Shot by police…” Doesn’t that sort of tell the readers, ‘well, she didn’t have the best track record to begin with…’ An obvious and unsympathetic argument could be: don’t post a photo to the Internet that you wouldn’t want on the front page of The New York Times. But that’s ridiculous. Maybe a friend posted a picture and you hid it from your timeline, but it’s still out there on the Internet. Would media go so far as to use it?
The argument here is that the photos shared of Michael Brown by the media seem to portray him as a bad kid. Why not choose a photo of his grinning face?
Since multimedia journalism is still fairly new, I find this topic to be a very important discussion to have. Does choosing a certain picture to go along with a story alter the interpretations of readers? And, if so, is this bad?