Two different news organizations chose two different photos to
illustrate the same event: href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_carter" rel="tag">Jimmy
Carter speaking at href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandeis_University"
rel="tag">Brandeis University, in response to
criticism of his boook: href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine_Peace_Not_Apartheid"
rel="tag">Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.
The top photo is from the New York Times,
Brandeis, Carter Responds to Critics. The bottom is
from Fox News, href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,245920,00.html">Carter
Defends Book on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
Notice in the NYT photo, a woman — presumably with some authority –
smailing at him. His skin tone is good, the lines on his face
are less evident. With his arm raised, he looks strong, yet
friendly. The Fox News photo has higher contrast, highlighing
the lines in his face, and washing out the skin tone somewhat.
Plus, his gesture is ambiguous. It could be
defensive, as suggested in the title “Carter Defends Book…” Or, it
could be a gesture of moderation. Without knowing the
context, it is impossible to tell.
In an era of “headline news” when news comes in quick bursts, sometimes
the titles and images are all the viewer remembers.
There is more to say about this.
For example, the Fox article
included this quote from a student:
Other students demanded an apology.
“I hope to hear an apology for his book, but that’s
what I don’t expect to hear,” said Alan Meyerson, a politics junior…
While the NYT included this quote:
But he said a sentence in which he seemed to suggest
that Palestinians would not have to end their suicide bombings and acts
of terrorism until Israel withdraws from the territories “was
worded in a completely improper and stupid way,” adding:
“I have written my publisher to change that sentence
immediately. I apologize to you personally, to everyone here.”
For additional perspectives on the Carter book, see his op-ed piece in
the Washington Post, href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/17/AR2007011701712.html?referrer=email">A
New Chance for Peace? and a “blog” post on the Jerusalem Post
site, writtten by Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, href="http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467804208&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull">Land-for-recognition?
A rather different view is presented in an article on Socialist Worker
for telling the truth.
Is there a point to this? Sure. The point is that
important to resist the natural temptation to draw conclusions on
important matters, based upon quick impressions.
I could try to make a point about media bias, but that subject has been
hashed over many times. Of course there is
media bias. Some
of it is systematic, some sporadic, some attributable to particular
companies, or particular editors, or particular reporters.
Although it certainly is possible to complain about media
it is more useful for individuals to be alert to it, expose themselves
to a variety of viewpoints (as painful as that may be), and to be
cautious about drawing conclusions too quickly.