12.14.2009

Using graphics to illustrate stories


So I saved a screen grab from Salon.com on my computer, and I was thinking about it today and I just wanted to share it. The graphic goes with a story Salon published about how some pastors are praying for Obama's death.

The graphic's caption says "Albrecht Durer's Praying Hands and AP photo." I know that it's clear to readers that the picture isn't real. But when I looked at it, it just reminded of flag burning, which is a pretty hot-button free speech issue, which many people find disrespectful or offensive. Personally, I thought the graphic was a little disrespectful toward our president. I mean, he's the president. It's bad enough that other countries might be defaming him or burning pictures of him or something - it doesn't exactly set a good example for people to see that we're ok with depicting that as well. Is it ok for journalists to make controversial graphics of important figures like the president, because it's a form of free speech? Or are there certain things that should be off-limits to graphic manipulation?

1 comment:

Esther French said...

I think that the graphic fits the story. Because the graphic shows Obama in a disparaging light, it wakes readers up to the seriousness of the story's content. It's not just that some pastors are praying that our president will change his ways or that he will be impeached--they're praying for his death.

I think Salon was within its limits in creating this graphic. As journalists, I think we should be wary about tightening restrictions on free speech, especially about public officials.

In addition, the graphic isn't editorial; it's just reflecting the news story. So I don't think that it's anywhere close to what people intend when they burn images of him.

Thanks for sharing this, Sophie! Definitely something interesting to think about...