The Political Broadcast

In the US and in Britain the political broadcast has progressed from speeches transmitted over radio, through directives from behind a desk, to today where the leaders of political parties and nomination hopefuls, give scripted pieces to the camera whilst walking through scenes of idyllic beauty and prosperity.

Case in point is the recent broadcast from Rick Perry who in a broadcast whilst walking through a serene backdrop of green grass and autumnal leaves. Looking like he’s taking a stroll down the 9th fairway at Augusta, chatting to his golfing buddies between discussion of yardage and club selection.

The reality however is far worse. Perry’s broadcast is filled with ignorance and hate primarily against the idea of homosexuals being able and qualified to fight on the United States behalf. But also ignorance of the values with which the founding fathers established the Union which he desires to lead.

When, with amendments to the constitution, we consider there are clear protections laid down for the rights of people it is amazing that countless movements have been needed to ensure the rights and freedoms of Americans born in a country which calls itself the home of the free.

The interference that peoples faith plays in their plans for governance on the right of American politics is quite stunning. Jefferson stated that their should be a “wall of separation between church and state.” Jefferson also declared that he would “see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights.”

Now when he says to return “to man all his natural rights” I’m sure the religious right in the States, and here in the UK, will claim that those are the rights laid down by God in the Bible. However I ask if these are natural rights why does the Christian right in particular forget the lesson of Jesus, lessons of tolerance and forgiveness. Also that man has existed prior to Christianity with more rights and privileges than those which were stripped from him by the creation of the bible at the council of Nicea, in order to coerce the failing roman state under Constantine.

Now I realise many Christians do not engage in such thoughts as their religion’s ideas of freedom, justice and right and wrong are the ultimate. But if we follow the bible not only do we enlist that courts are persecutory against all of god’s children(christians) and so should not be permitted, but also that executive governance outside of the church is not of Christian values. And so like devout Muslims they seek to destroy, Christians should not be pontificating about the rights of homosexuals whilst lining up their approach shot for the president of a constitutionally secular state.

 

Britain a Police State?

Student protestors got back on the streets on the 9 of November. A year after the temporary occupation of Millbank, and with the Riots only just behind them, it seems the Police have gotten a bit tired of being pushed around by the youth of the nation on London’s streets.

The police accepted the protest but put on enough officers to have a two man escort for each protestor. and a few spare horses. The feeling as the march through the west end was jovial but after a break out at Trafalgar Square and an (ultimately failed) attempt to occupy the square, the police stepped things up. With the feeling going into the square mile more like something from 1984 or a scene from Children of Men.

Now I know this blog is meant to be on images in the media. But how about the images that we see with our own lives.

The sense of foreboding I felt after witnessing a met snatch squad take a protestor in what could easily have been labeled as a political kidnapping in another country labeled as authoritarian by the west.

The image given to protesters is one of complete control over their movements and actions.

On the 30 November during the national Strike called by the TUC over Public sector pension reforms. Trafalgar square was cordoned off by a 7 foot steel fence. Not some flimsy thing you get around building sites but a solid wall.

The suggestion from the government that all protest in and around London during the Olympics will be banned. It is truly chilling that only 4 years ago the national press, the government and opposition of the time condemned the same brutal policing of protest by China.

As a watcher from afar I supported the police during the G20 riots outside the Bank of England in 2009. I thought of the police as hard done by in trying to control a protest which goaded them into action.

After only a few protests attended as a member of the press, there to document events objectively. I find myself becoming amazed at the abuse of power and heavy handedness of the state to protect businesses and organisations complicit in the market collapse from peaceful protest in a public forum.

The hypocrisy of the West, and the manner in which we excuse police and government authoritarianism, because we think we have power through a vote held at the governments request, leaves me in amazement.

PhotoFilm!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/33110280″>Student Protest: November 9 2011</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user3535542″>Laurence Hardy</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

I Have Black Friends Look!

It seems Football and racism are incredibly hard to separate. Especially when the head of FIFA, Sepp Blatter is intent on making ridiculous and prejudiced remarks. In an interview Mr Blatter said: “During a match you may say something to someone who’s not looking exactly like you, but at end of match it’s forgotten.” Claiming that racial abuse, even in the heat of competition on the football pitch can be simply forgotten over a hand shake is ludicrous in its entirety. 

His remarks though show a deeper ignorance, they come only shortly after saying that homosexuals should refrain from being open about their sexuality when the world cup goes to Qatar in 2022.

What was truly amazing though was the image that FIFA used on their press release, Mr Blatter, with Tokyo Sexwale. It was the pictorial equivalent of ‘look I have black friends, I can’t be racist!’ Maybe i’m being cynical, but It seems others have the same thoughts, the joy of the internet is the one trend blog.

Screen Shot 2011-11-18 at 15.25.45

1st Amendment, right or priviledge?

Americans are very proud of their 1st amendment. I would be too. However there seems an unavoidable gulf in its application. The patriot act which gives and exception to its use in almost any circumstance and the lack of respect by corporate news for factual NEWS reporting.

I fully admit I favour a socialised capitalist state, where private companies are allowed to operate with the minimum of laws ensuring a fair and ethical trading environment. So yes i back the Occupy movement.

However I also passionately believe in the necessity of a free press. A press which as long as they are not obstructing the police, are free to move, free to question and free to report on the actions of all members of society.

When like in the clearing of Zuccotti Park, the police [NYPD] blatantly obstruct the operations and free movement of the press, whilst carrying out such a controversial clearing on behalf of business, the very fabric of the ideals of democracy are called into question.

Four Journalists were reported as being detained on 15th November:

  • Julie Walker[NPR], Arrested in the early hours despite wearing NYPD issued Press ID.
  • Matthew Lysiak[NYDN], Arrested near Trinity Wall Street Church at 12:15[Eastern]
  • Karen Matthews and Seth Wenig[AP] Also at Trinity Wall Street Church, Near Duarte Sq.

The reports of photographers having lenses smashed with batons and press exclusion is truly frightening. More so are videos of journalists declaring who they are and showing press credentials, yet still being arrested.

It all makes one wonder how the USA and NY in particular can claim to be a free liberal societal democracy, rather than a business ruled police state.

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Heavy Policing, But Restrained

Heavy policing but with large amounts of restraint.

 

The video is my own footage, shot at Holborn Circus during the November 9th Student protest. It shows the point that a policeman gets struck by what appears to be a Peroni beer bottle.

 

 

 

Celebration, Justice, or Just Macabre

When the press reported the extrajudicial killing of Osama Bin Laden in February, they were restricted to stock images and archive footage, in their reporting.
Fleet street were left to indulge their sense of humour and ego’s with their headlines rather than use of images. The Sun in their usual crass and low wit form used “Bin Bagged”. In New York the Post went with “GOT HIM!” and the Guardian, as is usual asked a question, “But how could he hide for so long?”

bin-laden-front-pages

When reporting the death or capture of a wanted person the British tabloids are renowned for showing little mercy in the destruction of any possible good memory of the person by their family. or any defense that may have been put in a court of law had they been put to trial in a civilized manner for their ‘crimes’.

When given the chance however the Press will gladly splash their front pages with gore and gloating.

Gathafi

When Gathafi was killed, in what his supporters will attempt to claim was either a blaze of glory as he went out in battle.

Sun
Or as some rebels claim cowering on his knees after being beaten into submission and executed. The papers went on a feeding frenzy, covering their papers in blood, humiliation and bravado. The Sun, ever solemn in its reporting⸘, splashed with “That’s For Lockerbie” seeming to claim responsibility for the event, as the Sun is all powerful and nothing happens without its knowledge or say so⸘

New York Post

The New York Post another from the News Int stable, claimed an American link with its claim of “Khadafy Killed By Yankee Fan” 

Most obvious in the coverage is the free use of death images. Many of the papers used images which were of Gathafi still alive but visibly beaten and very close to death. The major exception to this in the UK is of The Mirror, who printed an image of the despot dead on a mattress.

The Sun’s photographer sent to get images for the follow up stories, spoke of his thoughts about capturing images of himself and Gathafi in a blog post on his site, at the end he asks “I keep thinking I should have had my picture taken with the Colonel himself, but would that have been wrong?” Why would it be wrong to have an image of himself smiling net to the dead dictator but not wrong for the paper to gloat over his death on the front pages?

Mirror

Is it really justified, in the name of showing justice to be done, to display the macabre and brutal end of a man in a judgement against his actions without trial. Why in the act of murder when the act is done from our side, in the name of justice we have no qualms about publishing the gruesome result, about glorifying vengeance, whilst defaming the others for attempting to do the same. The media particularly the red top/tabloid press, engage in extreme hypocrisy on a nearly daily basis. But none more so when it comes to the reporting of war.

Samuel Johnson has had the popular presses number for some time: “Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.” (The Idler, 1758)

“In war, truth is the first casualty,” attributed to Aeschylus (525BC – 456BC).

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In Your Werrity

When a Minister of the British government faces the heat of scrutiny from the national press, It is said that there are only so many days the PM can see their face on the front pages before their hand is forced in writing the letter their aides never wish scribe.

One minister has dodged the sword of the press when armed with innuendo. Mr Hague only dodged speculation about his sexuality when, with rumors fierce about his relationship with an aide, the aide was pushed into the papers guillotine.

guardian131011

The use of imagery by the press which shall be the attempted focus of this blog, was intriguing for those who claimed to know the back ally rumors of the Fox story, the phrasing of “close personal friend”, the initial tight lipped conservative support.

When enlightened with the nature of gossip, the imagery used by the press even the quality sheets, becomes highly charged.

Independent

The guardian’s front page image of Fox arriving at St. Pancras, conjures memories of comedy clowns. The over whitened grin and stretched cheeks like some kind of Spitting Image puppet or Bell/Brown caricature. The aim clearly being to bring ridicule on the man charged with high office for his supposed indecency in diplomacy.

The Independent’s image lends to suggestions of a carry on character, with the wide angle distortion and sly grin, the illusion of comedy and camp is unavoidable and inseparable from the mind when accompanied by the rumor and speculation around the reality of the relationship shared between Mr Fox and Mr Werrity.

Innuendo has been such a staple method of communication for British media that publications such as Private Eye have hewn their entire house style with it.

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Private Eye, whilst illustrating this story, on its front page didn’t hold back as much as the dailies, most likely due to Ian Hislop’s undying stubbornness against libel suits. With the loaded statement from Liam Fox’s mouth of “We’re just friends” it brings the idea of a relationship beyond that held between two heterosexual men, into clear resonance around the debated sense of impropriety and lack of reasoning for the constant presence of Werrity at meetings and on trips abroad.

The use of innuendo in the press suffered a laughable attack from Tory MP Louise Mensch on Have I Got News For Youwhen she tried to claim the press had been harsh in their reporting and suggestiveness of the articles commenting on the affair. Mrs Mensch challenges Hislop saying “There was some rather cheap innuendo, wasn’t there?”
Which allowed Hislop to reply in his usual dry flip with “If Werrity had been a young girl 17 years younger than a minister, who they met at a University, put in his own house, given a job, stuck with her and taken on holiday to a 4 star hotel. Then you’d have seen some proper innuendo!”

Innuendo is a simple way of allowing the reader of papers to feel they are in the know on the undercurrent of the story. You allow those readers who are aware, to feel the smugness of knowing, without letting the secret out the bag and opening yourself to libel suits.

For your entertainment and as a reward for having read my blog post here is the video of the exchange between Louise Mensch and Ian Hislop. Enjoy!

New Media Economy

Image

What follows is an abridged version of my essay for History, Theory and Practice a module of my second year studies in Photojournalism. It’s a long one but hope you enjoy the read.

In the late 1930’s the photo magazine was king and principle earner for photojournalists and photographers. As the magazines grew and then died in the 60’s and 70’s, photographers have steadily struggled to maintain a demand for their work alongside growing costs of business and falling newspaper circulations.

Through from the late 80’s people like Anne-Marie Willis, have suggested that the digital world would create the death of photography. They saw the digitisation and seemingly easier manipulation of images as corrupting the form.

However the internet is only really continuing from a trend first started by television in the 50’s, in getting the blame for the self inflicted demise of print media. Christian Caljoulle in her afterword inThings As They Are suggests papers were frightened by the new medium of television and competition for advertising papers “responded by gradually reducing their space reserved for news and photo stories, and competed with each other by according more and more prominence to ‘celebrities’.” (Cajoulle, 2005)

Then in 1997 with the creation of Getty Images, photographic imagery shot specifically for the agency market became easier to get hold of for publications and so it has become the norm in print media. This however has lead to a shrinking of the market with a few select photographers who work for agencies getting most of the work available. So in 2011 how has the internet affected the individual photographers ability to advertise themselves and share their work?

Ultimately photojournalism and journalism will always be intrinsically linked through revenue generation in some manner as newspapers will always need to illustrate their written reports. But how has the internet changed this in the last 20 years?

In his article for EPUK, “For God’s sake somebody call it!” Neil Burgess(http://www.epuk.org/Opinion/961/for-gods-sake-somebody-call-it) suggests that any photography not funded by “magazines or newspapers is not photojournalism.” However there is a flaw in his argument in that he forgets the agency format and if he did would he consider such prestigious organisations as Magnum, for whom he was the first London Bureau chief, and Getty, legitimate commissioners of journalistic work. If your work is initially commissioned by such an agency can it really be said that its un-journalistic purely by the state of the commissioner.

Both David Campbell(http://www.david-campbell.org/2010/10/05/dead-or-alive-the-state-of-photojournalism/) and James Estrin(http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/if-photojournalism-is-dead-whats-luceo/) also disagree with Burgess’ conclusion from the current market. Campbell commented on Burgess’ article saying “Photojournalism – or documentary photography, or whatever name we want to give visual story telling about the world – is not defined by its paymaster and mode of distribution.” and to this end I agree. However Estrin goes further to say that the example of Luceo(www.luceoimages.com) a new kind of Magnum is proof of how concerned photojournalismcan exist and be self-sustaining and profitable to the photographer or agency, in the new internet economy.

We can look at the explosion of the agencies and stock imaging libraries, and declare this as destroying true photojournalism but ultimately the internet is a tool which has to be manipulated by the individual to ensure involvement and just reward.

Luceo as mentioned before is a Magnum for the modern age it has been born in. The photographers work as a co-operative, like magnum to market and fund themselves. However the internet has been the lynch pin of the agency from the outset, and much to their advantage. 

David Walter Banks, the leader or instigator in the creation of Luceo Images said to Estrin “It is absolutely ridiculous to say that photojournalism is dead. It’s definitely changing, but I think that’s exciting. The modes of delivery and consumption are changing, but there’s a lot of great work being done.”(http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/if-photojournalism-is-dead-whats-luceo/)

I feel the main difference between the photographers like Burgess and Banks, is that Banks has grown up with the internet as a source and distribution device. I’m sorry to say but it seems very much a generational thing. Those that know the internet as their main source of consumption and distribution don’t understand the old Guard’s fear of the internet and resolute stubbornness over the use of physical ink/silver and paper to create, develop and sell their work.

So how does this new media economy extend to my chosen photographer, Chase Jarvis? The internet has been seen very much kindlier as a manner to advertise a method of working as well as work previously embarked upon, and Chase is most definately of the generation most at home with the internet. Chase’s unique approach to the internet with open sharing and mass involvement, is an almost perfect example of the democratisation of content that the internet allows. The financial impact of this manipulation and creative use of the mode of distribution available in the internet is clear in the increase in scale of projects being undertaken by chase and his ever growing team.

Chase who as a self taught photographer was highly involved in the creative community of friends he had around him whilst studying and then after graduation. this is likely an experience which has lead Jarvis’ push for a social creative community. 

Chase first started to work in social media with his blog, which has been running since 2006. Throughout Jarvis’ philosophy has been one of community inclusion and the creating of a cooperative. Aware that having a prominent following and community on the web will increase the interest from advertisers and companies for employment. Through his blog he has progressed from listing shoot breakdowns, the obligatory gear video’s on youtube, to now hosting webinars, and day by day break downs of commercial shoots.

Chase has used the captive audience and finance he has gained from twitter and his blog to pioneer online tutorials and creative sessions using his creative live website, Creativelive.com launched on 7th april 2010. The main process behind Creative Live website is to invite leading photographers and videographers from around America and have them give a live video webinar. He has had HDSLR tutorials from Vincent Laforet and studio photography from Zach Arias amongst others. The way Creative Live has been inventive in its financing is exceptional. It streams the seminars live for free and a rerun which starts nearly immediately afterward. However they finance the project by then charging for the download of the video. This opt-in structure has so far succeeded with multiple big names in the industry adding to the back catalogue of classes included on the website.

So what can we learn from Chase Jarvis to apply to the photojournalism industry and its counterparts. 

I feel Chase’s approach to community and creative inclusion is a valuable lesson for newspapers and photo-magazines. In the current market, newspapers are still dependent on traditional delivery and tone. With online and blog delivery opinion is golden and people pay more for a person than a paper. The rise of the celebrity journalist/commentator, proves this. Many a consumer will buy a particular paper more for a particular columnist than the papers editorial content. 

The person we are as a photographer will determine our successes and more pertinently our ability to comment through words as well as pictures will be more crucial than who we shoot or where. If the “golden age in photojournalism” was with the photo magazines the diamond age and rebirth will be through the seizing of opportunities the internet gives to widen reach and inclusion in the photographic illustration and comment of the world today.

In 1936 Henry R. Luce outlined his vision for a magazine to TIME. This was his vision:

“THE PURPOSE: To see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud; to see strange things – machines, armies, multitudes, shadows in the jungle and on the moon; to see our work – our paintings, towers and discoveries; to see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to: the women that men love and many children; to see and to take pleasure in seeing; to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed; Thus to see, and to be shown, is now the will and new expectancy of half of humankind. To see, and to show, is the mission now undertaken by a new kind of publication, THE SHOW-BOOK OF THE WORLD.”

The magazine was LIFE. I believe we are in a more privileged position today with the aid of the internet to see through Luce’s vision, using the example set by Chase Jarvis of community involvement and open comment.

The Internet has resurrected the kind of photojournalism, that television and celebrity culture almost destroyed.