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Is this worth it...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by DGRollins, Oct 11, 2007.

  1. DGRollins

    DGRollins Member

    We had a photograph sent to us anonymously that shows three men standing beside an effigy of a native Canadian. It's clear what the effigy is, as it is dressed in Mohawk Warrior gear.

    The men were at a rally that was held Monday, that took place in a town near Hamilton, Ont. (Caledonia, Ont.) where a native land occupation has been ongoing since last year. The rally was "pro-Canada" and was attended by a few people that are identified with the white supremacist group the Heritage Front (although organizers are careful to distance themselves from the Heritage Front participants). The rally got ugly at times, with one arrest and no shortage of racist comments flying throughout.

    It isn't really news that someone at this rally would have an effigy (although it would piss off a lot of my aboriginal readership). However, what makes this photograph interesting is that one of the men--all clearly smiling and appearing to be laughing--is a reporter for one of the region's papers. He's seen holding his notepad while smiling beside the effigy. This individual reports on this issue. He is not a columnist.

    Is it newsworthy that he's in the photo? My initial reaction to it is yes and no. Yes, a reporter should, obviously, not put themselves into a position where his or her credibility is questioned. There is already a widespread belief that the "MSM" is biased in its coverage of native issues and this photo seems to give credence to that.

    Seems. That's the no. I wasn't there, I don't know if it was a nervous laugh (although I suspect it wasn't, judging by what I've read of his work...). No one can be inside anyone's head and I wonder if running the photo isn't opening ourselves up to more problems (legal and otherwise) than it's worth.
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    It's not news. The guy has a notepad and presumably is interviewing the clods.

    You have no idea what he is laughing about.

    Beyond not being newsworthy, it doesn't sound like it's an interesting photo in the least.
  3. DGRollins

    DGRollins Member

    Actually, it's an interesting photo...but that's not the point.

    Thanks for responding.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Sorry. When I hear the word "standing" used in a description of a photo, that's usually not a good thing.
  5. Flash

    Flash Guest

    DG, one question ... as a journalist, should you not get the individual's side of the story first? Sure, you could run the photo for sheer shock value but you also stand the chance of ruining a man's career and life over a photo which has a potentially suspect context. That's not responsible journalism.
  6. DGRollins

    DGRollins Member

    Of course. At this point, I'm deciding whether I should pursue this at all. I'm not going to make a call to the reporter at all if I decide not to do anything about it. I see no point in causing undue stress if I decide that this is nothing.
  7. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    Having covered a similar dispute, I could just imagine the reaction if I was in such a photo... it wouldn't be pretty. That person obviously has put himself in an interesting position, and if he is as high-profile as you say, that's probably a severe lack of judgment. To me, also, any effigy could be interesting - people standing around or not.

    I agree strongly with Flash here though. If it's news, you'd need to find out the circumstances surrounding the photo and also I'd question why you're receiving an anonymous photo and what the motive is behind someone sending it. If it's a competing reporter, I'd also be cautious that you're not seen as doing this just to score petty points.
  8. Flash

    Flash Guest

    Do you know this person, other than just a guy at the newspaper? Is it worth telling him that someone is circulating this photo of him? You may not be the only person to have received it.
  9. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I guess effigie's are a big deal in Canada. The only effigies we have are of bad football coaches -- oh and a pinata that looks like Summer Wheatly.
  10. Flash

    Flash Guest

    Change 'native Canadian' to 'black guy,' Ace, and see if it's any more meaningful.
  11. rpmmutant

    rpmmutant Member

    If it's worth it to you, investigate. If you know the reporter, show him the picture and ask him about it. Responsible journalism would dictate that you get both sides of the story. Start with the reporter in the picture, if that is the story. And try to find out who sent you the photo. Pretty chicken shit to send it anonymously and I would question the intent. But you do not have enough right now to write a story or publish that photo responsibily. There are a lot of questions and a lot of people who will be lying to you if you pursue it. Good luck. Doesn't sound like this has an easy resolution.
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