Why We Get Media Memes we Get

Ok, here is a question for people. I want you to play editor for a moment, photo editor to be more specific. Here is a choice of two photos from the Port Shutdown a few years back in San Diego.

Photo number one


Now there is photo number two.


Be honest, which photo would you run? I know the answer is photo number two. It shows conflict, and tension. But it also does something else. The first photo was a peaceful talk between a driver and an Occupier. The second has Harbor Police in line, while marchers go about their business. It helps to create that image of the outsider, and the event happened, but without context…

This is why many folks have this idea that Occupy, or other social justice groups, look for confrontation. When consuming media it is critical to understand how the sausage is made. Good photo journalism will portray that conflict. This is story telling 101. Conflict is the source of good story. Why when planning a short story, you have conflict, same goes for a novel. It would be a very boring story to write about tea time, and crumpets quite frankly. Now add to that tea time some salacious events like a divorce and a fight, there you go.

Does that mean that Occupiers were only engaged in confrontations with the police? Hardly. I have photos of them serving food to the homeless downtown. That makes for a good feature or photo essay, but sucks for a breaking news story. i have photos of drum circles, I have photos of people peacefully discussing Sartre or the latest in the politics of the United States, at times from two very different sides of the political spectrum (and finding common ground, gasp I know), but none of them make compelling breaking news photos.

So it is also important to consume media intelligently and understand how the sausage is made.

Categories: media analysis

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