ICE blogs

July 22, 2008

picturing racism

Filed under: News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, photojournalism — news_editor @ 9:39 pm

An image from an Italian beach of two dead Roma children surrounded by relaxing, apparently unconcerned, holidaygoers confronted readers of the Independent. The photograph has sparked ‘mounting disquiet’, the newspaper says, and comments left by its readers accuse Italy of becoming more fascist. A case of the power of an image to confront society with what it would rather not see. Also, of course, a case of the rhetoric of photojournalism - there’s quite a claim in the image that people are indifferent to the tragedies of such racialised underclases.

It’s another balmy weekend on the beach in Naples. By the rocks, a couple soak up the southern Italian sun. A few metres away, their feet poking from under beach towels that cover their faces and bodies, lie two drowned Roma children. The girls, Cristina, aged 16, and Violetta, 14, were buried as the fallout from the circumstances of their death reverberated throughout Italy. It is an image that has crystallised the mounting disquiet in the country over the treatment of Roma, coming after camps have been burnt and the government has embarked on a bid to fingerprint every member of the minority. Two young Roma sisters had drowned at Torregaveta beach after taking a dip in treacherous waters. Their corpses were recovered from the sea - then left on the beach for hours while holidaymakers continued to sunbathe and picnic around them. As the bodies of the two girls were laid on the sand, their sister and cousin were taken away by the police to identify and contact the parents. Some pious soul donated a couple of towels to preserve the most basic decencies. Then beach life resumed. The indifference was taken as shocking proof that many Italians no longer have human feelings for the Roma, even though the communities have lived side by side for generations.

March 1, 2008

Acclaimed photo was fake

Filed under: News, Headlines, journalism, professional ethics, photojournalism — news_editor @ 1:47 am

Nature reports that an award-winning photograph of a herd of endangered Tibetan antelopes apparently undisturbed by a passing train on the controversial Qinghai–Tibet railway has been exposed as a fake. The image was widely hailed in China as a symbol of harmonious co-existence between man and nature and strong testimony against any adverse effect of the new railway on the animals. Photographer Liu Wei-qiang admitted the fabrication last week after comments on the Chinese online photography forum Without Fear questioned the picture’s authenticity. Liu was promptly dismissed from the Daqing Evening News, based in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, where he was the deputy director of its photography department. The newspaper has also issued a public statement apologizing for the incident and announcing the resignation of its chief editor. ‘The train was real, and so were the antelopes,’ said Liu in a posting on the photography forum. ‘But the magic moment just didn’t happen even after I had waited for two weeks.’ Therefore, he decided to merge together one picture of a passing train with another of the migrating animals ‘to raise the public awareness of antelope protection’. The merged picture was published by more than 200 media outlets around the world and won Liu a bronze medal in the 2006 Most Influential News Photos of the Year competition, sponsored by CCTV, China’s state television. ‘The truth is probably the opposite of what the picture was trying to claim,’ says Su Jian-ping, a zoologist at the Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Xining, Qinghai province. (Nature)

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