Monday, July 05, 2010

Bending the facts

One of the major stories in U.S. politics today has been the Economist's manipulation of a photo of Barack Obama on its cover to make him appear more solitary. And particularly considering that the source image itself reflects Obama's willingness to be photographed by media outlets in an environment that wasn't image-sanitized for his benefit, there's plenty of reason for concern about the tactic.

But based on Canada's experience with the Harper Cons, it's worth noting that there may be some circumstances where that's exactly the best way to make up for the dishonest presentation of a leader by an all-controlling government. Keep in mind what the media is up against in trying to pick up any semblance of "reality" from the Cons:
Ms. Buzzetti pointed to one incident in which a group of smiling Cabinet ministers were snapped by the Prime Minister's official photographer when they were about to chow down on seal meat during a trip to the Arctic.

Journalists on the trip were prevented from documenting the seal sampling themselves and instead given the official handout photo, she said.

"They wanted us to have this nice slick picture of them all smiling and saying, 'Mmm, seal is good. Look at us, international community; we like seal in Canada'....The risk, of course, is we would have seen some Cabinet minister not trying it because they're disgusted by it," said Ms. Buzzetti. "The impact is that you don't have the real proof. You have propaganda."
With that in mind, let's ask the question: should Canadian media be less shy about altering images of a government which limits the media to pre-selected photos chosen to reflect its desired image, rather than anything approaching reality?

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