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Oct 28, 2004

Unequal TIME (Or: Dairy State Low Light)

Here's my latest example of photojournalistic character assassination. This composition was the lead feature in Time Magazine's Wednesday on-line campaign photo gallery.

Notice how Bush is always on top in these juxtapositions?


(If you're familiar with my system, I score it: Bush 5, Kerry -7.)



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Okay, for a long time I was skeptical of your questions about the Times photo coverage... but I think this one is the straw that broke the camel's back for me. This really is friggin' ridiculous.

Recommendation: compile these little montages together (including the reasonable ones, so no one can charge you with bias) and publish them into a cohesive unit. Then start spamming the Times forum with it (j/k, maybe).

I like your analysis of the Times photo coverage. As a photojournalist almost out of school it's good to see this kind of thing. I know why photographers take photos like the ones you say are biased against Kerry. They take those photos because they look different or have an interesting graphic element that standard campaign photos (like the Bush photos) don't have. But when an editor consistently uses these off-the-wall kinds of photos for one candidate over the other it, to me, points to a bias, as you have studied.

I wonder if Bush simply has a better PR team? Maybe photographers at Bush rallies aren't allowed the kind of access as the photographers at Kerry rallies? If you're a photographer and can't come within 50 feet of a stage, the kinds of images you make aren't going to be very diverse.

That shot of Kerry is totally absurd. Did the photographer get trampled by Kerry's supporters and end up lying on the ground to take his photos? I'm all for artistic photography but this one's a bit extreme.

Did you see the paper today? Front page, two photos. One of the massive Kerry rallyin Wisconsin, featuring 80,000 attractively framed before the state captiol. Next to it, and much larger (and closer to the Greek golden mean, in terms of pleasing proportions) a shot from a Bush rally in Ohio. In the Bush photo, we have large "W" and a cheering and adorable baby. How many in attendance? Well, there's really no story ON the Bush rally; it was an ordinary campaign stop. I extrapolate from a story inside that there were 10,000 supporters there. Now...
Is this truly biased against Kerry? I think you could find a reading that would argue either way. Simply, though, the Bush shot lends power to an ordinary event and the Kerry shot diminishes a singular moment.
Please discuss.


In choosing what to post, I get worried that I am becoming a little redundant with certain themes. I certainly saw the Times front page on Friday. The Wisconsin rally was probably one of the biggest of the election. I didn't see stats on the Bush rally either, but it was one of about four stops that day and didn't seem that huge. Nonetheless, the Times gave Bush about 2/3 more space. Would they argue it was because of the dimension of the shots? That they needed a more narrow shot to capture the size of the Kerry crowd, and still maintain equal height between the two pictures. Regardless of layout concerns, however, the apportioning of space definitely communicates a particular message about each event. And, if you didn't know differently, these images signify that Bush's was larger or, at least, comparable.

Thanks for the pick up.

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