Who’d have thought it? Different words have different meanings

It used to be you won an award and people would say nice things, at least to your face; now it’s an excuse for a mob to take to the Internet and vilify you. In the week since Jodi Bieber’s portrait of Bibi Aisha, a young Afghan woman disfigured by her family – who may or may not have been members of the Taliban – arguments have raged over World Press Photo’s decision to award their premier prize to the image.

Of course there’s always an argument about the WPP winner: what made this different was that it was not the usual “wrong choice” wrangle. Instead the controversy had its roots in Time Magazine’s previous use of the image to support the US military presence in Afghanistan. WPP had judged the image, but Bieber’s critics were focused on the use of that image and her part in its use: as a result discussion rapidly descended into a de facto personal attack on Bieber.

The debate’s current terms of engagement were set in World Press Or Propaganda?, a post by Ben Chesterton at DuckRabbit:

1: Jodi Bieber won the World Press Award for an important and eloquent photograph that has done much to highlight the abuse of women and their resilience in the face of unspeakable barbarism.

2: The photograph that won the World Press was used as propaganda that helps justify the billions of pounds of profit made from war. Bieber is not to blame for this and this should not be a consideration in the jury’s mind.

3: The photograph that won the World Press was used as propaganda that helps justify the billions of pounds of profit made from war. Bieber is complicit in the way the image of Aisha has been (ab)used.

If the answer is 1 then we should all be celebrating the award going to Bieber but if it is 2 or 3 then we should be worried.

Logically the World Press jury would opt for 1 or 2; indeed it’s a reasonable assumption that most well informed people would. What drove the DuckRabbit discussion off the rails was that pretty much everyone went for option 3.

The thinking employed was simple in every respect. Bieber photographed Aisha; Time used the Bieber photo for propagandistic war mongering; therefore Bieber is a warmonger. The clincher, so far as the accusers were concerned, is that Bieber has the Time cover on her website; it didn’t seem to occur to them that it would be a very rare photographer indeed – show of hands anyone? – that made a Time cover and didn’t display it in such a way.

The other elementary fact of life that posters seemed unaware of is that neither Time, nor any other publication, gives freelance photographers the power of veto over cover headlines. You deliver the images and…that’s it. You have no further control over the production process. You may not like that. You may think it’s wrong. But none of that matters: that’s just the way it works. Ironically, at the same time that people were attacking Bieber on DuckRabbit, David Campbell was making this very point with an earlier quote from Bieber herself:

‘What Campbell said about our lack of control was quite obvious and very true. As soon as you hand over your work its not yours anymore.’ This means when Bieber’s portrait of Aisha appeared on the 9 August 2010 cover of Time, with the headline ‘What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan,’ its form was beyond her control.

Bieber – probably sensibly – has remained silent, but eventually photographer Maggie Steber intervened at DuckRabbit with some common-sense home truths. Steber’s cry of witch-hunt was pretty much on the mark, but she could have selected a better target than DuckRabbit. A more appropriate choice might have been Bieber’s chief vilifier Jim Johnson, who describes himself as “a political theorist with neither experience as, nor any real aspiration to be, a photographer.” That’s a useful confession since it at least tells us upfront that when it comes to photojournalism Johnson doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Ignorance however hasn’t prevented Johnson developing something of an obsession with the Bieber/Aisha photo: in the little over 6 months since the Time cover he’s churned out no less than four lengthy blog posts of several thousand words on the subject. Along the way he’s made some interesting discoveries: like if the text accompanying a photograph is changed [see above] then the viewer’s perception of the photograph’s meaning is also changed. Thanks for that Jim: photographers would never have guessed.

Many of the concerns expressed at DuckRabbit were valid, but the subject of people’s ire should have been the Time editors, not the photographer; and using Bieber as target practice to express those concerns was simply cowardly. As for Johnson, on his Facebook page he describes his political views as “extreme and more or less unforgiving”. Just like the Taliban then.

Bookmark and Share

18 Responses to “World Press Photo’s Afghan War”

  1. duckrabbit duckrabbit says:

    Hi Jeremy,

    This is an interesting post which I think goes a long way to proving Jodi doesn’t need to sleep with a wooden stake under her pillow and a string of garlic round her neck just yet.

    Some difference of opinion.

    1: You imply that a mob has taken to the internet to ‘vilify’ Jodi. To vilify is ‘To make vicious and defamatory statements’. Where is the ‘mob’ you are talking about and where are the multiple ‘vicious and defamatory statements’? On duckrabbit Tom White has been the most critical of Jodi, but he also says:

    ‘I think everyone is actually in agreement that the portrait is a great photograph and part of an important story that needs to be told.’

    2: You say that ‘that pretty much everyone went for option 3.’ Did you actually read the comments? I think most people think that the headline was wrong, but I’m not aware of many that think Jodi wrote it.

    3: You say the simple thinking is that ‘Bieber is a ‘warmonger’. Who says that? It’s not unreasonable to presume, given its prominence on her website, that Jodi supports the use of her image by TIME. Clearly TIME used the image in a pro war context. But I don’t perceive that many have made the jump to suggest that makes Bieber a ‘warmonger.’

    4: You say’ it didn’t seem to occur to them that it would be a very rare photographer indeed – show of hands anyone? – that made a Time cover and didn’t display it in such a way.’

    If the post was knocking a photographer simply for putting any TIME cover on their website then yes the criticism would be as daft as you make out. But it’s not.

    We can turn you question round to ‘How about we have a show of hands for how many photographers have had a TIME cover where their photograph was used to justify a war?

    I’m sure there are a few but let’s be honest we are talking about an extraordinary cover.

    5: You say, Steber’s cry of witch-hunt was pretty much on the mark. That’s a matter of opinion and no doubt lots will agree but Steber herself apologized and asked to withdraw those comments. It also strikes me from my time blogging that ‘a witch-hunt’ is a lazy phrase spat out by people who don’t actually want to debate the issues on the page. The definition of a witch-hunt ‘searching out and harassing dissenters’. I don’t think the case for this has been made. Certainly on all the blogs I have read there has been space for a range of opinions (although I have not read them all).

    6: You say ‘The other elementary fact of life that posters seemed unaware of is that neither TIME, nor any other publication, gives freelance photographers the power of veto over cover headlines.’

    I’m sorry but I think you’re completely wrong. I can’t think of a single poster (off the top of me head) whose words suggested they thought Bieber had actually written the headline. Indeed in an earlier post on this matter I wrote,

    ‘‘I feel sorry for Bieber, she’s done a great job and cannot be faulted, but I feel this photo has been misused. Just as guns did not solve the problems of racism in South Africa, they will not solve the problems of woman’s rights in Afghanistan.’’

    Which is why I agree with your comment and much of what Steber wrote:

    ‘the subject of people’s ire should have been the Time editors, not the photographer’

    I am confused by your use of the word ‘cowardly’. I don’t see any anonymous attacks being written. I also think you’ll find that TIME has had their fair amount of stick.

    My own personal opinion is that whilst there has been criticism, there has also been a number of apologists for Bieber. Why does she need them? She’s a top photographer and IF she was really unhappy with the way the photo was used surely she can say this in a subtle way without burning any bridges?

    If that’s really not possible then we are left with the understanding that photographers who are dedicated to social justice, work in an industry where having an editorial opinion is dangerous. That’s either nuts, or paranoia.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paddy Eden, duckrabbit, duckrabbit, laurence watts, Keith Heneghan and others. Keith Heneghan said: RT @Russian_Photos: World Press Photo’s Afghan War: http://bit.ly/h21kMa #togs #photography #photojournalism #worldpressphoto […]

  3. Bob Markus Bob Markus says:

    Most people are not aware of the other big controversy regarding this cover image. Time Magazine naturally doesn’t want people to know about the other big problem with their cover story.

    http://www.observer.com/2010/media/its-horrifying-cover-story-time-gave-war-boost-did-its-reporter-profit?page=0#

  4. Dear Jeremy;

    I think you go over the top here on a number of points, and I want to put some of your remarks in context, and then draw attention to an element of this issue that you don’t focus much on but is important to my perspective.

    While you obviously have strong views, it doesn’t help to begin by casting this debate as a ‘mob’ out to ‘vilify’ a photographer. I’ve just been back to review all the comments on both the original and follow-up duckrabbit posts, and, although I agree with some and disagree with others, I feel your characterisation doesn’t do justice to the substance of the vast majority of those comments. I don’t feel that the discussion there ‘went off the rails’ because the majority supposedly believed option 3, that Jodi Bieber is complicit. I didn’t read the comments that way, and not just because I went for Ben’s option 2! If you feel there are particularly bad examples od commentary you should link to them rather than generalize about them.

    Equally, when Maggie Steber first alleged an ‘hysterical witch hunt’ I thought that was also not a fair reflection, so I am pleased to see she has now clarified and retracted that and applauded duckrabbit for being a debate platform.

    I also have to remark on what I think is a very unfair characterisation of Jim Johnson in your post. I know Jim, have appeared at conferences with him, and while (as I would say in regard to most people) I don’t share all his views, I think to call him “Bieber’s chief vilifier” and, at the end, “just like the Taliban”, is in the first case wrong and the second pretty offensive. Jim has written four posts over six months and they don’t add up “several thousands of words” on Jodi Bieber. Given that he posts many times a week that is not a particular “obsession.” Indeed, his first post in August 2010 is directed squarely at Time, the second and third concern a Susie Linfield essay on the photo and Linfield and Time are the subjects under scrutiny, and in the fourth it is the World Press Jury that is the object of his concern. Your readers who have not gone to Jim’s blog would wrongly conclude from your comments that Jodi Bieber is the “target” when in fact the photographer herself is hardly discussed. I also have to say that if you regard people who are not, or don’t aspire to be, photographers as by definition ignorant about photojournalism then you closing down debate at a time we need it more.

    Finally, to my substantive point. You link to one of the points in my post, about how photographers lose control over their work once it is published. Indeed, my point was that for someone like Jodi Bieber, at the very moment her work enters the public domain it is not in fact her work anymore. She may formally retain copyright, but as far as meaning goes she is no longer in control. I then went on to say, linking to one Jim Johnson’s points on this, that the World Press Photo award process has in effect reasserted some of that lost control:

    “Johnson’s most insightful comment is that the World Press Photo award has performed another decontextualisation and depoliticisation of the Beiber photograph. The award process has extracted the image from the political issues it became associated with, reconstituted the picture as a discrete object, and reattached it to Jodi Bieber as author.”

    I think this is why there has been all this debate, and it is certainly what interested me enough to write about it. To me what this points up is an inherent limitation of awards processes, especially those concerned with press photos. The idea that we can treat images in insolation as discrete objects when they have come to prominence through particular contexts is mistaken in my view. This does NOT mean we judge them on the political meanings beyond the photographer’s control that were attached to them. But in 2011 the portrait of Aisha is no longer just an aesthetic object owned by its maker.

    To me this suggests that there has to be more debate about these issues. I don’t share your view that Jodi has ‘sensibly’ remained silent (even though there are some interviews). I think any photographer who has produced a compelling picture that has had an impact should be prepared to discuss that. I’m not in the least interested in Jodi’s personal politics re Afghanistan or anything else. I’m interested in how she thinks about the use of an image she had to give up control over but for which she will now (rightly) claim an award. Above all else, I think that World Press Photo should be encouraging and hosting these sorts of discussions and debates as part of their general social responsibility.

  5. Hi Jeremy, thanks for your post. I still maintain it’s healthy to have criticism like this. It shows that we are no longer passive audience and it matters. It’s a good thing. World Press Photo is an important award. It is, however, not an Oscar. It’s about real life, real hurt, real people. Like David said – the image is no longer Jodi’s the moment it’s published on TIME. To quote Tom Hunter on making pictures, “You gave birth to it. It lives its life. It abuses people. It upsets people.” There are no witches, no burning smells, just media debate. I think the comments on duckrabbit are informed and well thought-out by the writers.

  6. Jenny Lynn Walker Jenny Lynn Walker says:

    Dear Author,

    Any chance you could show the image that won the award – in its pure form as the author Jodi Bieber took it explaining the image in its intended context which is different to the one you have shown. To see it that way would be especially respectful to the subject and would be so welcome. The way you are showing it is now out dated given that it has been presented to WPP in its ‘pure’ form.

    Alternatively, may I suggest you read ALL of the posts on Duckrabbit and The British Journal of Photography and then consider re-writing this post as you are recycling outdated information on a dialogue that is ahead of the information you are sharing.

    Thank you.

  7. Jenny Lynn Walker Jenny Lynn Walker says:

    And by the way, does anyone know of a contest for propaganda? Do we have a ‘Worst Piece of Propaganda’ contest? Because if not, it seems we are in desperate need of one…

  8. Jeremy admin says:

    Firstly, there is no attempt by me to censor or “close down” any debate. Apart from the fact that I don’t have the power to do so, writing a post like the one above, which was pretty much guaranteed to inflame the discussion, would be a very odd way to try to shut that discussion down.

    Jenny Lynn, I’m tempted to agree that it would be preferable to show the image in its pure form and certainly that it would be more respectful to the subject. The problem is firstly that the argument isn’t about the “pure” image, but about the [mis]use of the image; and secondly that many people appear either unwilling or unable to distinguish between the two. I don’t agree that the information is outdated: it’s an ongoing discussion, albeit one that’s going in circles. Just a few days ago – and after my post – David Campbell complained on twitter that a new interview with Bieber didn’t sufficiently address the issue of the Time use of the image.

    David, we’re just going to have to disagree on the perception of photographs as discrete objects vs their use in such contexts as the Time publication. I have no difficulty whatsoever considering the Aisha image without the Time context, and I strongly doubt I’m uniquely gifted in being able to do so; that is after all exactly what the World Press jury does. Further, as time goes by far more people will see the Aisha image in isolation than will see the Time cover; these people will have no choice but to see it as a discrete object, or at least in a different context from the one that has caused the furore. It therefore makes no sense to claim that the image cannot be treated as a discrete object; that simply will happen. For proof you need only consider McCurry’s Afghan Girl, which you have compared to Bieber’s picture. Walk down any high street, show the McCurry picture to people and very many will be familiar with it. Then ask them about the context in which it was first used: the vast majority won’t have a clue.

    I also disagree with your view that a photographer should be compelled to discuss the impact of a particular image. A photographer might choose to do so – I probably would – but it doesn’t follow that they must do so, which is what you seem to demand.

    So far as Jim Johnson is concerned, I agree that my Taliban jibe is probably pretty offensive, but it was meant to be. He earned it with his assertion that the WPP award should have been given for propaganda, a claim that is not only offensive but also makes no sense. If he believes, as you put it, the award process has “reconstituted the picture as a discrete object, and reattached it to Jodi Bieber as author”, then his description of it as propaganda can only be aimed at Bieber. It’s reasonable to believe that is Johnson’s intention given the “here I’m being generous” jibe referring to the Time cover on Bieber’s website. On the other hand he also accuses the WPP jurors of “aiding and abetting the propaganda campaign”. In other words he can’t decide who to blame so he just smears anyone connected with the image.

    Ben, I have two major problems with the DuckRabbit piece. Firstly, there is the presumption of Bieber’s guilt for complicity in the wretched Time cover. I have seen not one shred of serious evidence to support that presumption; please note, I do not regard the presence of the Time cover on Bieber’s website as evidence of anything other than that her photograph was used on the cover of that issue of Time. On a practical level, as I have already pointed out, photographers do not have the power of veto over Time cover headlines; anyone who believes otherwise is being naive in the extreme.

    You’re going to disagree with my claim of the article’s presumption of guilt, but first look at what you have written above: “there has also been a number of apologists for Bieber”. Sorry, but apologist is hardly a neutral term. In everyday language only people regarded as guilty have apologists, and your use of the term clearly illustrates you belief in Bieber’s guilt.

    The second problem is the level of responsibility ascribed to photographers generally – not just Bieber – in their dealings with publications. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect photographers to behave in a responsible and honest fashion with regard to content they have some control over, which in the real world is the images they produce and the associated captions. It’s entirely unrealistic and unfair to hold them responsible for text produced by writers or headlines from sub-editors, yet that is what is being done in this case. It’s also daft and smacks of double standards: this furore has occurred because a large number – or at least a vocal number – took offence at the Time cover. But what would have happened if the Time headline had been different? Say, the alternative above? Would the same people have been applauding the photographer for such a great headline? I think not.

  9. Jeremy admin says:

    I think I very much like the idea of a ‘Worst Piece of Propaganda’ contest. The competition would be fierce.

  10. Jeremy, you do seem to want to provoke things. Where exactly did I say photographers should be “compelled” to discuss the use of their images? Me, above: “I think any photographer who has produced a compelling picture that has had an impact should be prepared to discuss that.” Should. Its not really “compelled” is it? I would like to try and keep the nuances in debate.

    I also would like you to respect the nuance of my original position on this. Above you say “many people appear either unwilling or unable to distinguish between the two…it’s an ongoing discussion, albeit one that’s going in circles. Just a few days ago – and after my post – David Campbell complained on twitter that a new interview with Bieber didn’t sufficiently address the issue of the Time use of the image.”

    Yes, I think that interview was disappointing. Given all the debate I would have liked Jodi to offer a more sustained reflection. BUT, I have been very careful from the beginning to distinguish between the Aisha portrait and the particular Time usage, and between Beiber’s intentions and her thoughts about the use. I do not regard Beiber’s portrait as inherently ‘propaganda’ and I do not make judgements about what she thinks based on what she does or does not display on her web site (see my response to Tom White’s comment on my post for example). I don’t think your comment above, linking to a subsequent point about the Jo’berg interview, gives sufficient weight to what I have actually said on this matter. This debate cannot be cast as a simple “propaganda: yes or no?” exercise.

    Finally, it seems we will continue to disagree over photos as discrete objects vs their use in contexts. But I would be interested in where you think the wider public ever gets to see images alone without a context? I think that’s a practical impossibility. I can like you can think about the Aisha image without the specific Time context, but its impossible to think about it without some context.

  11. duckrabbit duckrabbit says:

    Hi Jeremy

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apologist

    ‘Apologist’ – one who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something ‘

    In the absence of Jodi saying anything those that defend the use of her photo are by definition apologists. Lots of people agree with its usage and fair play to them. It’s important to hear those voices.

    In contrast here is the definition of ‘mob’, the word you used to describe those commenting on this matter:

    ‘A large or disorderly crowd; especially : one bent on riotous or destructive action’

    It seems to our disagreement centers on one thing, how you read Jodi putting the TIME cover on the front page of her website (because I don’t agree that many, if any, think that Jodi had anything to do with headline and I’m perplexed as to why you are arguing as if they did?).

    Putting aside what you or I think, it’s a safe bet that the majority of people would read it as an endorsement of the use of the image by TIME. Again fair play to Jodi, that’s her choice, and she will know many people will read it that way.

    I also don’t understand as why you seem to keep saying that the ‘mob’ is arguing that the photo is in itself propaganda?

    I think people are commenting on the use of the photo, not the photo itself.

  12. Jeremy admin says:

    Hi David, I’m genuinely not trying to provoke anything; I’m simply trying to get some clarity. There’s quite a lot of misunderstanding here, so I’ll go through you comments point by point; I think that will help.

    Where exactly did I say photographers should be “compelled” to discuss the use of their images? Me, above: “I think any photographer who has produced a compelling picture that has had an impact should be prepared to discuss that.” Should. Its not really “compelled” is it? I would like to try and keep the nuances in debate.

    Fair enough. You didn’t say compelled”, you said “should”; however I wouldn’t even agree with that, because to me there is an element of compulsion involved. I simply don’t believe that a photographer has an obligation to be involved in such a discussion just because other people think he or she should. Some photographers might choose to do so – I probably would – others might choose not to: I think they’re entitled to that position.

    I also would like you to respect the nuance of my original position on this. Above you say “many people appear either unwilling or unable to distinguish between the two…it’s an ongoing discussion, albeit one that’s going in circles. Just a few days ago – and after my post – David Campbell complained on twitter that a new interview with Bieber didn’t sufficiently address the issue of the Time use of the image.”

    At most what we have here is a disagreement over grammar. Read again what I wrote, not your abbreviation, which has conflated two separate points and changed my intended meaning. I was making 2 points to Jenny Lynn: firstly the “unable to distinguish” issue. End of point 1: that’s why there’s a full stop and sentence end. The second point is that it’s an ongoing debate, which I illustrate by the fact that you have recently commented on twitter. The two points are entirely unrelated in my original, and intended to be so. There is no implication in the original, as there is in your abbreviated version, that “David Campbell is unable to distinguish, and here’s the proof, his post on twitter.”

    Yes, I think that interview was disappointing. Given all the debate I would have liked Jodi to offer a more sustained reflection. BUT, I have been very careful from the beginning to distinguish between the Aisha portrait and the particular Time usage, and between Bieber’s intentions and her thoughts about the use. I do not regard Bieber’s portrait as inherently ‘propaganda’ and I do not make judgements about what she thinks based on what she does or does not display on her web site (see my response to Tom White’s comment on my post for example). I don’t think your comment above, linking to a subsequent point about the Jo’berg interview, gives sufficient weight to what I have actually said on this matter. This debate cannot be cast as a simple “propaganda: yes or no?” exercise.

    Lots of confusion and misunderstanding here: you seem to mistakenly believe that points I was making about Johnson were about you. Please go back and read what I actually wrote, not what you think I wrote. For the absolute avoidance of doubt I’ll expand and break the argument down into its component parts:

    You have written: “Johnson’s most insightful comment is that the World Press Photo award has performed another decontextualisation and depoliticisation of the Bieber photograph. The award process has extracted the image from the political issues it became associated with, reconstituted the picture as a discrete object, and reattached it to Jodi Bieber as author.” That’s a reasonable assessment and I’ll buy it. But it comes with a price. If WPP have done as you say, and more importantly IF JOHNSON BELIEVES THAT TO BE THE CASE, then his “propaganda” charge can ONLY apply to Bieber’s original image, NOT to Time’s usage of the image. After all Time’s usage is no longer part of the picture, so to speak: in which case Johnson is clearly charging that the image itself is inherently propaganda.

    Johnson goes on to say:
    “The category mistake is that, perhaps despite the photographer’s intention*, this image was an integral part of a TIME Magazine propaganda piece last summer.” Followed by:
    “* Here I am being generous. On the front page Bieber’s web site this evening you will find not the simple image but the TIME cover.”

    That looks like a pretty clear case of someone making “judgements about what she thinks based on what she does or does not display on her web site”. But again, these are Johnson’s judgements, not yours, and I have never claimed anything different.

    Finally, it seems we will continue to disagree over photos as discrete objects vs their use in contexts. But I would be interested in where you think the wider public ever gets to see images alone without a context? I think that’s a practical impossibility. I can like you can think about the Aisha image without the specific Time context, but its impossible to think about it without some context.

    The wider public as opposed to whom? I don’t really see the need for a distinction. I agree that pretty much any viewing situation has some kind of context, those contexts will vary greatly, and their effect on the individual viewer will depend on a number of factors, not least who the viewer happens to be. The question isn’t whether a context exists, but the nature of that context and how it impinges on the image.

    I agree with your assertion that the debate cannot be cast as a simple “propaganda: yes or no?” exercise. The problem is that is EXACTLY how it has been cast, both at DuckRabbit and by Johnson: just read the two headlines. DR at least made it a question, but nonetheless the reader is being asked to choose: is this world press or propaganda? Johnson however is worse: he doesn’t even give readers the choice.

  13. Jeremy admin says:

    Hi Ben, I’ll go through the relevant points one at a time.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apologist

    ‘Apologist’ – one who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something ‘

    Dictionary-tossing notwithstanding, I maintain that in everyday use “apologist” is not a neutral term in the way that, for example, “defender” is. But if apologist is your preferred term then fair enough: my skin is able to withstand assault by dictionary. However:

    In the absence of Jodi saying anything those that defend the use of her photo are by definition apologists.

    Excuse me, but if you’re going cast misleading slurs you’ll have to step outside. I have never “defended the use of her photo”; on the contrary I earlier described the Time cover as wretched. I haven’t looked very hard, but I’m unaware of anyone – other than Time suits, and they don’t count – defending the use of the photo. What a few people have done is defend the photographer against unreasonable and unfounded allegations. That’s a very long way from defending the use the photo by a publication: how do you manage that connection?

    It seems to our disagreement centers on one thing, how you read Jodi putting the TIME cover on the front page of her website (because I don’t agree that many, if any, think that Jodi had anything to do with headline and I’m perplexed as to why you are arguing as if they did?).

    The 3rd interpretation on offer in your original piece was as follows:
    “The photograph that won the World Press was used as propaganda that helps justify the billions of pounds of profit made from war. Bieber is complicit in the way the image of Aisha has been (ab)used.”

    Here you go: http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/complicit
    “Complicit” – helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way.
    My objection has always been to the idea, promoted in your option 3, that a photographer be held responsible for actions over which they could not possibly have any control. Because Bieber has declined to say what some people would like her to say, and because she has the Time cover on her website, these people conclude that she is in some way complicit. That is a line of thinking devoid of both logic and evidence.

    Putting aside what you or I think, it’s a safe bet that the majority of people would read it as an endorsement of the use of the image by TIME.

    I don’t think that’s a safe bet at all: on what grounds do you reach that conclusion? Have you conducted a poll? Bieber recently described the headline as “misleading”: that’s not much of an endorsement.

    I also don’t understand as why you seem to keep saying that the ‘mob’ is arguing that the photo is in itself propaganda?

    Because that’s exactly what Jim Johnson has argued. See my reply to David Campbell above.

    I think people are commenting on the use of the photo, not the photo itself.

    I’d like that to be the case, although it’s obviously not with Johnson. A very large part of the problem is the way the discussion has been structured in the wake of the WPP award. WPP awarded the image, not the usage, but the DuckRabbit headline invites readers, within the context of the WPP award, to make a choice: is this press or propaganda? That serves to confuse the image with its use: I don’t think that was the intention, but I do think it’s very unhelpful.

  14. duckrabbit duckrabbit says:

    ‘Misleading slurs? (lol)’

    ‘The clincher, so far as the accusers were concerned, is that Bieber has the Time cover on her website; it didn’t seem to occur to them that it would be a very rare photographer indeed – show of hands anyone? – that made a Time cover and didn’t display it in such a way.’

    I’m confused. You’re saying you are not defending the use of the photo? But its the same on her website as it is on TIME. Your saying that it was wrong to use it that way on the front cover of TIME but right on the front page of her website?

    ‘Because Bieber has declined to say what some people would like her to say, and because she has the Time cover on her website, these people conclude that she is in some way complicit. That is a line of thinking devoid of both logic and evidence.’

    If I take a picture of David Cameron which is used in a Tory campaign poster and then put the Campain poster on the front page of my website I’d be a bit daft not to realise that some people might ‘logically’ believe that to be evidence of me being a Tory supporter.

  15. […] World Press Photo’s Afghan War (jeremynicholl.com) […]

  16. […] – Jeremy Nicholl: World Press Photo’s Afghan War (Jeremy Nicholl blog: February […]

  17. […] NYT Lens: Unveiling the Pictures of the Year (NYT Lens: Februry 2011)Articles – Jeremy Nicholl: World Press Photo’s Afghan War (Jeremy Nicholl blog: February 2011)Articles / Tutorials – PDN: How to Distribute Your […]

  18. […] World Press Photo's Afghan War В» The Russian Photos Blog Feb 21, 2011 … It used to be you won an award and people would say nice things, at least to your face; … […]

Leave a reply: usual Marquess of Queensberry rules apply.

(required)

(required: will not be published)

What I’m thinking…

    Translate this Page