Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Another case of ethics?

I had thought about chiming in on Allan Detrich's firing from the Toledo Blade after it was discovered that he turned in some altered images as the genuine article, but there was nothing I felt I could add to the debate that hadn't already been said.

And besides, you've got Detrich himself speaking about the incident to Jim Merithew of the San Francisco Chronicle. Why do you need to hear from anyone else?

Word spread fast in the photojournalism community and within mere hours of the news I had already been e-mailed by colleagues with articles and his portfolio.

It's a shame, clearly the man was talented, but I guess the temptation to push it just a little bit was to much. (I've got ideas for ways to avoid the temptation, but that's a topic for another post.)

So why am I bringing it up today? Well, today once again I am reminded that in my career field of choosing, the real world doesn't always live up to the ideals we that we learn and debate in academia.

The Press Club of Dallas today announced that their yearly contest had been tampered with and that awards going back to 2005 may have been acts of fraud.

The entries for the 2006 Katie Awards apparently never went before judges, and competitions from 2004 and 2005 also are under investigation, said club President Tom Stewart.

The Press Club has a nearly 50 year history of honoring journalist and photographers in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico. It's a shame to see this happen and for the pattern of fraud, lies and deceit to continue.

And after a quick visit to Wikipedia it doesn't look like it's anything new or that it's going to end anytime soon.

Just a few off hand:

-1980's Pulitzer Prize winning story on an 8-year-old heroin addict turned out to be a web by lies spun by Janet Cooke of the Washington Post.

-In 1992 The Oregonian admitted to ignoring allegations of sexual harassment charges against Oregon Republican Sen. Robert Packwood, even keeping hush after knowing of his behavior with one of their female reporters

-2006 hit Wired Magazine hard when freelance writer Philip Chien's articals couldn't be varified and it was discovered that he had even tried to mislead fact checkers with planted e-mails.

-Recently it was revealed that one of Katie Couric's online columns had been plagiarized from a Wall Street Journal article (seriously, like no one reads the WSJ!??) Couric survived the discretion unscathed mostly because she doesn't actually write the online columns, just signs her name to them and pretends they are her words.

And of course we all know about Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, Brian Walski and the Lebanon smoke pictures.

I guess as long as jobs are scare and the pressure to rise to the top is great, some people will give in to the temptation and begin their very public fall from grace.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Well, maybe next time...

Thanks for nothing... cold night, hair brained organization (fun crowd however), and no tickets. 13 years! I guess when we've got the longest running NBA playoffs drought, no one really knows how to act in the post season. *tear

Plan B: 2 p.m. on Ticketmaster, no go. Tickets sold out... that morning... nothing left... online dry... Shaminder's haiku mode... activated... *tear

Oh well, I guess I can hold solace in that I can watch it on TV.. oh wait, I can't. *tear

This whole day's been a mess. The Chronicle just called it chaos, prices on Craigslist are through the roof, and apparently NBC 11 forgot they are a broadcast station and put up a screen grab instead of a video for their coverage.

Oh well... we'll be there again... right?


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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech student press presses on

With the news of what happened, why it happened, who to blame and my own circle of friends wondering why the media has latched onto the shooters immigrant status (is this relevant in anyway? That's like saying he liked hats.), it's easy to see how some angles of the story have been overlooked.

Thanks to Ryan for bringing my attention to this story on the Virginia Tech student paper and the editors, writers and photographers that put aside their grief and stepped up like professionals to do the job they set out to do.

It reminds me of my own experience as Executive Editor of my college paper in 2001. We had only been in school 2 weeks and our first issue was to come out soon when we woke up to the news that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center.

We scrapped our finalized paper and scrambled our staff about the campus to get the story out and overnight came up with the completely reworked edition. When the issue was in the boxes around campus a funny thing happened. Many of us started to feel the pain and hurt that everyone else was already feeling. It was as if we had all put it aside and became focused on our task. I imagine the students at Virginia Tech's student paper are experiencing much of the same.

Bravo to The Roanoke Times for digging up an angle on the story that no one else is seeing (and if you are reading this Roanoke Times, take a look at Not Just a Number and The Crossing and make it happen on your website). And I applaud these student journalists for having the fortitude, commitment and willpower to keep going.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My favorite MC is Escher!

I've been a little too serious as of late around here, it's time for some comedy relief.

Animation and MC Escher... I love this kinda stuff.

The fellow shaving his head has unwittingly created something that every multimedia photographer is striving for: short, sweet, tightly edited, has a perfectly accentuated musical aspect and it holds our attention.

MC Escher is just plain cool, and this video picks up on the line draw craze and uplifts it to an art form.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nachtwey speakes, minds blown

James Nachtwey, the closest thing our industry has to a rock star, gained mainstream recognition after his documentary "War Photographer" captured Oscar voters eyes, but he hasn't always been the most outspoken. So when he speaks, I for one listen.

Accepting his 2007 TED Prize, James Nachtwey talks about his decades as a photojournalist. A slideshow of his photos, beginning in 1981 in Northern Ireland, reveals two parallel themes in his work.

Daniel sent me the link to this video a couple days ago, but it wasn't until tonight that I finally got around to seeing it, and it's well worth it. It is lenghty however and if you stop it, it starts over from the beginning, so I would suggest you do what I did and download it. Yup! You can download it!

(Fan boy side note: I once meet the guy and actually got to share a few words with him... weee!)

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Virginia Tech Reporting

Sometimes horrific events take place and in the interest of the public, journalists do their job and inform.

Today we faced another such event when a man walked onto the Virginia Tech University campus and chaos ensued with shooting in two location, two hours apart and a half mile apart.

Details are still being ironed out, but it appears what began as a domestic dispute escalated into a hostage situation that left 33 dead and hundreds more trying to put the puzzle together.

After I heard the news on the radio as I was driving to work, I logged onto The Roanoke Times just as I walked into the Santa Cruz Sentinel newsroom.

They were on top of their game. Videos, articles and pictures were up and new information was adding to updates throughout the day. And the reporting went much deeper than what I heard on the radio or would see on TV. The Roanoke Times was covering it from every angle in addition to the main news story with stories about student reactions, neighborhood churches mobilizing, the college's reaction, technologies role in students communication and eye witness reports.

As of right now, they're added a guest book, an interactive map of the events complete with a time line and e-mail excerpts and collections of all the videos and photos produced throughout the day.

I hadn't gotten around to looking up the college paper until just now, but it looks as if The Collegiate Times website had crashed under the weight of unexpected traffic, but they didn't let that keep them down.

A note on the temporary site reads, "Notice: The Collegiate Times main server is down. CollegeMedia.com is the website of our parent company." And they've managed to continue reporting the latest developments, and I would say to a better capacity than many reports I've read today.

Away from traditional news, social networking sites like Facebook set up pages for students to let people know they were okay and share accounts of the events, which some news outlets turned to (why not, a wise reporter uses everything, I've had success with Craigslist even) for potential interview subjects.

It's days like today that remind people like me how important protecting the news is and how we can be a true service for the public.

On another note, what is up with some of these leads I'm finding?

In the wake of the recent massacre at Virginia Tech University many college campuses across the U.S. are re-evaluating their security plan and Texas Tech is one of them.

I don't like to single one news source out like this, and I really did try to find similarly dreadful leads (although I did notice everyone was using 'massacre' in the first sentence... will this create a homogeneous consciousness of what we think happened before we learn all the facts?), but this is the only one that I ran across... and with that I ask, who are the editors letting this fly?

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Friday, April 13, 2007

I'm glad Mr, Stewart agrees... whew!

When I posted my reflections on Imus I was afraid that some might miss the point I was trying to make, but thanks to a video a friend sent my way, I'm glad to see my thinking wasn't quite as radical as I first believed.

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At the tone the time will be... an arm and a leg

For thousands of years man has been waking up and going to sleep and in between he has always asked the same question, a question that has pluaged every society, destroyed nations and united strangers, a question that will never die and had no birth.

It is the question that defines us: "when do we eat?"

And in the pursuit of that elusive answer lunchtime was created, and in order to keep track of lunchtime man invented the fourth dimension and 'time' was born. But time can rampant and started talking about 'early birds' and 'magic hour' and 'brunch' and man could not keep track of it all. Fearing that time may leave man for 'space' and 'relativity,' man decided to fashion a cage for time.

At first it was a crude device that depended on the orb in the sky and a pterodactyl that never complained much, only saying "hey it's a living" every now and then. But it was refined and over the years it evolved into a compact space that's often incorporated into microwaves and cell phones.

The clock has served humanity well, but the internet, as it often does, has decided that's boring and I'm inclined to agree.

Humanclock merges photography, community and technology into a fun applet for your computer desktop. The idea is simple, anybody can submit a picture of a minute of a 24 hour day and the Humanclock rotates through them in sequential order to display the correct time.

It's a creative project and a fun way of using old technology with new.

And if you prefer you can forgo Digital:

and go old skool with analog:

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TV News is a bussiness, here's some funny that proves it

As I reflect on today's events, from Fox News' treatment of Kurt Vonnegut's death to the endless Anna Nicole Smith updates to the stories that never go beyond the ink of newspapers to today's events at Virginia Tech University I find myself once again comparing TV News to Newspapers.

Those that know me will tell you, every time I get on this topic I reach the same conclusion. TV News has become too much of a business and isn't allowed to practice news gathering and reporting the correct way.

I don't believe that TV folks don't want to deliver the news that matters, they just aren't allowed to. And as new people step into the economically driven corporate run news system they are forced to report on the news that brings in viewers.

Think about it, how can we possibly have let the Smith story take precedence over the story of an astronaut in a diaper that got past NASA security and threated to kill a jilted lover? Not only is it much more sensational (come'on diapers!) but it has more to do with national issues of security, the space program, mental health angles and such views that effect the public much more than the passing of a G-List celebrity.

This is why I mourned the loss of Ted Koppel from the daily news cycle.

Anyway, it's time to laugh now...

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Multimedia Shooter contest winners

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but someone cruel once decided that humans need sleep.

If you're like me you're always looking for inspiration and one of the places I've found it was in looking over the winners of Multimedia Shooter's first anything-goes contest held last March.

There's a couple of really good pieces, some just off the wall (and just my type of humor), one very short Mark II envy-inducing clip (Canon are you listening?) and even one from some friends to the north.


Here's hoping Richard has a chance to thrown another one of these. I'd love to see what my peers and "photo gods" are cooking up.

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Light bent on itself?!

According to a report by Scientific America, researchers have developed a method of refracting light back on itself in the opposite direction than how it wants to natural bounce off a surface.

What's this mean, it's means there's some crazy stuff going on with the study of light and adjusant to that is the way we see.

The obvious application for this would be a cloaking devices for military applications, but I'm not interested in that.

I wonder what, if anything, this means for photography?

Another area of research involved the ability of certain materials to amplify light to make even the faintest of objects come in more clearly.

Given enough research and development this could mean greater ISO sensitivity and sharper images, and if adapted properly it could mean more accurate replication of film ISO, because in everything I have seen digital ISO and film ISO are not 1:1 equivalents and as great as high ISOs appear from a Mark II, it's never quite looked like the film counterparts that I learned with.

It could also mean better performance in low light situations. It's all very experimental and as of now the research is not aimed at photography, although I am sure it will be used in astronomy very soon.

Light fascinates me, so maybe I'm stretching to relate it to photography (why did I call this blog 'SLR'.. oh right, I thought it was clever), but this is some interesting research. Maybe we'll get some sort of new film stock out of this that will let us capture the world in new ways.

Even infrared was first developed as a scientific tool, and look at where that went. (Which reminds me, is solarizing a print a lost art?)

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus Firing May Create a Slippery Slope

Today Don Imus, who unless you've been under a rock, you know has been at the center of a media storm involving the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers basketball team and some comments he made to his producer at "Imus in the Morning," was fired.

Imus made the statements before Easter weekend and there was a small groundswell, but it wasn't until he appeared on Al Sharpton's radio program that a louder voice was heard. By the end of the show, Imus and his words were everywhere and everyone was talking.

At first it seemed CBS was content with a suspension and the issue would blow over, but the protest grew more vocal and when advertisers started to pull their support (the same thing that triggered ABC to drop Bill Maher's late night show after the events of 9-11) Imus was also dropped by CBS.

Isn't it interesting that as vocal as protesters and critics were, it all came down to advertisers and the money. It's the American way.

Al Sharpton declared a small victory after the CBS verdict to fire Imus came down, calling it an example of hatred that should not and will not be tolerated. News camera were on hand for the response (and while you're at it, check it out, The Spartan Daily now has videos!)

The comments as we've all heard were derogatory and sexist in nature and he was rightfully taken to task for it and with the comments having been played again and again pretty much everyone has heard them and responded in some fashion.

Which brings up another interesting questions, why is it acceptable to repeat the statements on every cable channel and airwave?

How is it that we bleep out the N-word, but no one has batted an eye at this when everyone is claiming that it is just as unacceptable? You'll notice I haven't repeated them here.

And while I'm at it, why did every news front that covered the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers press conference use this picture:

The team has players that are not African-American, and the conference had these other players in attendance, yet their faces are not the ones on the cover of our nations newspapers. Instead we are given an image of what we want to see, because in a way, we want to see racism because that makes for a sexier story.

We are practicing visual racism as a culture, without even saying it we have all agreed that these insults are only for the black athletes, and if you really think about the words, are they really directed at any race? When rappers call women "hoes" are they directing them at any race? If they are, there there are some women in the wrong video.

And I believe nappy hair is not connected to race, I have nappy hair. So then why did the protesters, Rainbow Push (an organization I have volunteered and contributed to) in particular and the media snap onto the idea and why did society accept that this term was only specific to the Black players?

It would seem to me that not only was he wrong for saying what he said, but their is something wrong with us if automatically we assume that he only directed his comments to the African-American players.

I agree that Imus should have been punished, but I'm afraid that by firing him we are heading down a slippery slope. Most people are glad that a hate spewing radio personality will be off the air (but really, is what he said any different than what Howard Stern says?) but this opens a door that allows anyone that doesn't agree with what someone says to harm their livelihood.

For example, let's say tomorrow Regis Philbin comes out in support of gay marriage and decides to marry 50 couples on his show and starts advocating for same-sex nuptials. Before you know it, the opposition is picketing and demanding that Philbin be fired for his actions because they feel he is corrupting America.

Sure at first, ABC will refuse to act and defend his actions, but then the boycott continues and the religious right mobilizes and the state of New York dissolves all the marriages and the voices grow louder and pretty soon advertisers get antsy and start dropping support. The show can't go on without advertisers and ABC decides to let Regis go.

Is that fair? And if you're saying it'll never happen, oh it will happen, afterall they re-elected Bush (zing!).

This was unacceptable behavior and but perhaps we may have gone to far?

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

Let's not be fooled, this firing was a response to the advertisers and not the protester on CBS' part. The advertisers would not have pulled out if not for the bad publicity spurred by protests, but if you boil it down, it's about the ad rates.

It's an ugly mess all around... sometimes serious situations call for some light hearted ribbing. Send in the clowns!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I ran across a blurb that author Kurt Vonnegut had died.

I don't often feel moved enough to feel I have to write about someone, I did it when Ted Koppel left ABC and I did it when Gordan Parks died, but not that often.

Kurt holds a special place on my bookshelf. I've often gone back to his words for inspiration in writing features (when I decide to write that is), as his descriptive style was very similar to the best pieces of journalism. His writing style gelled with me, he could always turn a phrase on its ear and I always thought he was a little crazy in the head like myself.

In many ways he was the slightly nutty companion to the Hemingway and Steinbeck on my floor.

Kurt was a man with the razor edged wit to satirize even the harshest, most vile and most horrific of events with the ease of a Joey Chestnut at a Costco free sample stand.

A man who very well may have employed the work 'pecker' more than any other writer ever has.

A man who pondered the purpose of life and was less interested to the answer of why we are here and more so to what the punchline will be.

I discovered Vonnegut where most people discover him, in high school English. And like most high school English students, I groaned at the prospect of having to read another book.

But a funny thing happened as I flipped my way through; in between thoughts of, "I wonder if this has anything to do with SplatterHouse," I found myself engrossed in Billy Pilgrim's journey through war, space, his psyche and time as he seemingly bounced around his life, as if he had control over his fate yet at the same time was a victim to the cruelty of man to each other and the situations it creates.

There's something sardonic about Kurt's final chapter, like his most famous creation he to suffered a brain injury... and perhaps in another universe Kurt is in a book seeing his own death and flashing back to a better time.

Kurt was 84, and he still has a home between "A Farewell to Arms" and "A Russian Journal" on my shelf.

The New York Times has a nicely balanced retrospective. It's also where I found the excellent portrait.

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