Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Creative Cropping

This kind of misrepresentation in the media happens disturbingly often. I saw the coverage of this story on Channel 2 (CBS) last night.

In covering a story, the media ask the family for a photograph of the person involved. In the case of a 13-year-old boy shot by police the other night, the family provided this. Channel 2's coverage showed just the square of his face, while the complete photo shows the boy flashing gang signs.

  • The media excuse will probably be that they didn't want to show gang signs on TV. But when those gang signs are being flashed by someone you portray as an innocent victim of over-zealous police, doesn't cropping that photo change the entire tenor of the story? Shouldn't you at least mention that the kid was flashing gang signs in the photo even if you don't want to show the whole photo?
  • Channel 2 also showed the mother carrying on about how she never saw her kid with a BB gun. Of course, a kid would never hide a BB gun from his parents... especially if he probably used the gun to shoot out windows at the local school.
  • What was this kid doing out on the streets after 11 PM anyway?
  • And while I'm ripping on the mother, what kind of parent's only photo of her kid shows him flashing gang signs? (Surely if she had a different photo, she would have provided that instead, right?)
Kudos to Walter Jacobson whose "Perspective" piece noted that attacks on police have more than doubled in the past ten years. With stats like that, police aren't to wait until they can get close enough to tell a BB gun from a real gun.

When a police officer shoots someone, particularly a teenager, it's a given that people will get upset and put 100% of the blame on the police. They often try to portray the victim as a model citizen or an "honor roll student" (I remember one supposed "honor roll student" who had actually dropped out of school 14 months earlier!). Amid the neighbors and family members moaning about how a shooting victim was "a good kid", keep in mind that a significant part of the back-story may have been cropped out.

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