Tuesday, September 13, 2005

RACISM? "Found" photographer explains terminology

Society of Professional Journalists: "Some 'looting' versus 'finding' answers found
At least one aspect of the racially tinged media coverage of looting in New Orleans has become clearer. Chris Graythen, a freelance photographer for Getty Images, explained in a post to an online photographers' forum why two white people were described in the caption of one of his images as having 'found' items from a grocery store in the flooded city. Graythen's image of the white couple caused a stir this week when it was juxtaposed on Yahoo News with a similar photo of a black man who was described in that caption as having 'looted' a store. In a post to SportsShooter.com Wednesday evening, Graythen angrily defended his choice of words, saying that he saw the couple, who were captured wading through chest-deep water, in the vicinity of a flooded grocery store. '[T]here were other people in the water, both white and black,' Graythen wrote. 'I looked for the best picture. There were a million items floating in the water -- we were right near a grocery store that had 5-plus feet of water in it. It had no doors. The water was moving, and the stuff was floating away.' The photographer who took the other controversial shot, Dave Martin of the Associated Press, said he saw the person in his photograph and others loot an abandoned grocery store, AP representatives told Salon. But the 'looting-finding' drama promises to be the beginning, not the end, of racial controversies stemming from the flood of New Orleans. Most of the people who were left behind in the city were poor black residents without the means to escape. And though blacks aren't the only ones who have taken advantage of abandoned stores, they're the ones featured in repeated video loops on television news coverage. Given calls by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and others for looters to be shot on sight, it's no wonder that racial tensions are flaring.

Source: Aaron Kinney, Salon

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