July 22, 2010

Did BP Fake A Picture? Yes, But We Did Even Worse


bp photo.jpgwhat's wrong with this picture?  Answer: half of it is missing



Did BP fake a pic?

Yes.  Why?  Probably to make them look busy.  They placed it on their press page.

By now you've no doubt seen the original photo.  Where did you see it?  Think hard.  I saw the story about the photo being detected on Americablog in the Washington Post.  Is that where I saw the original?



wash post bp fake.JPG



No.

Maybe I saw it on AP?  Chicago Tribune? LA Times? CBS?  Nope.  They either show you only the altered photo, or no photo at all-- just the headline, "What Did We Tell You: BP Is A Bunch Of Lying Bastards."

Where you see the original is on blogs.  Americablog detected the alteration, and have multiple shots of the original and a guide to alterations.  Gawker and Gizmodo are writing about the alterations, so the originals and details are there.  Why do I have to go to blogs to get a fuller story than on the Washington Post?

Sure, the news links to the original, but that's not the same thing.  If the news media was serious about being serious, they would ALWAYS present the altered photo along with the original; and NEVER simply as a scary headline.


bp altered and original.jpg
But if you do that, then there's no story.

There's no hesitation in showing both an original and the alteration when doing so tells the story they want to tell, e.g.:


(MSNBC) "Plus sized model 'shocked' at being made to look thinner"

msnbc model altered.jpg

New York Times:

nyt obama altered.jpgIn this NYT article, they quote from the apology from editor of The Economist:

I asked for [the alteration] because I wanted readers to focus on Mr. Obama, not because I wanted to make him look isolated. That wasn't the point of the story.
Maybe; but it was certainly the point of the New York Times story to show that he wasn't alone.


I chose these two examples not because of their power but because they both occurred this month.  It's not like there's been any time for standards and practices to change.

But showing both BP images simultaneously is dangerous.  On the one hand, it proves there was an alteration; on the other hand, it proves the news media is petty. "Are you guys just looking for any reason to jump on BP?"  Best just to show the alteration with a catchy title, and let the mind run with it.

The major American news outlets aren't writing a story about a picture that was altered, and the context of that alteration, and perhaps the cultural/political significance of that alteration in an objective manner befitting The Froth Estate.  They are instead writing a story that panders to the bottom level of American tastes, the populist meme of the day, "big business is screwing us!"  I already knew that; I guess I was hoping the press would be better.

Doing it this way gives the Post plausible deniability.  "We didn't lie to you, we just reported the facts.  We did our jobs admirably."  Yes.  You gave us all the tools we need to lie to ourselves.

----

http://twitter.com/thelastpsych








Comments

But the media only publishe... (Below threshold)

July 22, 2010 3:46 PM | Posted by Max: | Reply

But the media only publishes stories people are interested in. It's not their fault, it's ours. Duh!

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Thank you for this post and... (Below threshold)

July 22, 2010 4:54 PM | Posted by Knives: | Reply

Thank you for this post and the great examples of how photos are altered for effect!

Isn't the real failure that, probably, none of us saw the original photo on BP's site? Only upon the publication of the article did we realize its existence.

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According to Van Jones, Cas... (Below threshold)

July 22, 2010 5:11 PM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

According to Van Jones, Cass Sunstein, and the late Stephen Schneider, we everyday citizens cannot be trusted to carry on democracy because we read what we want to read on the internet, and for some of us, they believe that our exposure is not sufficient for decent involvement in political discource. They fear that we stick our heads in some web-based echo chamber and never pull our head out.

Their answers are each a bit individualized, but generally center around this idea: the government should employ panels of experts to judge the range of views that are to be covered in our media: talk radio, the interwebs, newspapers, and so on.

Then, when these educated people from Harvard have all decided what it is OK to receive, and we receive it, we can best move on to be involved in the discourse of our democracy.

I myself have been astounded by the stories in mental health treatment that I have discovered by The Last Psychiatrist, Furious Seasons, and other blogs, that have absolutely been UNTOLD through ANY other outlets.

The over-medication story and the Thought Leader-Drug Pimp story have been covered by various MSM outlets, including Newsweek and so on, but because of blogs, I know much more than the news story knows.

Science-Based Medicine and Bad Science have awesome comments/discussions that can be as informative as a great panel discussion at a research conference - without the need to register for the conference, and the ability to throw in your own 2 cents.

And on blogs, we everyday idiots can link to pdfs, link to other stories, and so on, unlike the media.

I withheld my opinions on the global warmign scam for a long time, since I knew I was un-educated, and I know what level of info I would need to review to form a decent opinion, having my knowledge and skills in science, hypothesis testing, bogus and slanted science, and so on. Well, when I finally decided to jum into the topic, I was able to get a decent education, and get guided to original studies (Mann 1998 and so on) very quickly and easily, by blogs. I now know that a Emporer's New Clothes investment scam is being pulled on us, and I know how it is being pulled, and for whom.

You cannot get easy access to that through MSM. And, they do not think it "sells." So, they are welcome to drive themselves into extinction as they keep their heads up the echo chamber, and continue to tell themselves they are doing things the right way.

Spitzer was doing great work to expose the bad lending practices that would eventually lead to the S&L crash, but all we (the MSM) cared about was seeing pictures of his mist ress. This does not absolve him of the scandal, but it shows that theh guy only gets attention when it includes a bikini picture, even though his efforts could have saved us from an entire economic downturn.

I agree that blogs are serving the Fourth Estate purpose in a way that is not being served by the Fourth Estate proper/traditional.

I totally disagree with Sunstein, Jones, and Schneider (RIP) that we need government panels and advisory boards to keep us from our media tunnel vision / protect us from the conspiracy blogs and the hate-mongering blogs.

Maybe the govt and the media need blogs to keep them from their media tunnel vision.

Carry on!

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@medsvstherapyCoul... (Below threshold)

July 22, 2010 5:53 PM | Posted, in reply to medsvstherapy's comment, by RC: | Reply

@medsvstherapy

Could you explain more of what you mean by "and other blogs"? I'd like to check them out too.

Thanks!

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Would love to hear your tak... (Below threshold)

July 22, 2010 6:29 PM | Posted by Ted: | Reply

Would love to hear your take on Jessi Slaughter and the media coverage about it.

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RC: I will take a few minut... (Below threshold)

July 22, 2010 7:15 PM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

RC: I will take a few minutes sometime soon, and note a handful of psych-related websites I have bookmarked.

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If you're reading it, it's ... (Below threshold)

July 22, 2010 10:17 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

If you're reading it, it's for you.

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Hey last psych, I don't thi... (Below threshold)

July 23, 2010 12:32 AM | Posted by Unstoppable Boy: | Reply

Hey last psych, I don't think your conclusion is right this time. I was thinking perhaps, instead of pandering to the mass' tastes, perhaps it could be that they're saying that they have exposed BP, therefore BP is not to trust, but who then can you trust to give reliable inside scoops other than them. Because I would believe that the era of giving news as the people want is over, it doesnt sell anymore, perhaps this new method of me against all the other faked media outlets is the new way to sell, isn't it a bit like the NPR post you put once?

I'm not really sure but these thoughts do seem plausible?

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As a photo, the Economist's... (Below threshold)

July 23, 2010 4:12 AM | Posted by Sherlock: | Reply

As a photo, the Economist's edited version is better. Also, the model looks considerably better in the re-touched photo with her pudgy waist trimmed. She wants to get paid for standing around and making pouty faces (because she thinks people should hand her money for being pretty) but doesn't want to refrain from eating double-bacon-cheeseburgers?

"I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is." - Zoolander

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Old Media: Everyone gets si... (Below threshold)

July 23, 2010 12:20 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Old Media: Everyone gets similar misinformation.

New Media: Everyone gets different misinformation.

Those saying new media is unreliable compared to old media have it half right.

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Dean Baker (economist, 'bea... (Below threshold)

July 23, 2010 2:12 PM | Posted by vv111y: | Reply

Dean Baker (economist, 'beat the press') seemed to have a post almost every single day trashing the Washington Post for screwing things up, intensionally or not.

Bias, error, opinion passed as reporting, misrepresentations, innuendo, ...

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Sherlock said: Also, the m... (Below threshold)

July 23, 2010 6:59 PM | Posted by Antibubba: | Reply

Sherlock said: Also, the model looks considerably better in the re-touched photo with her pudgy waist trimmed. She wants to get paid for standing around and making pouty faces (because she thinks people should hand her money for being pretty) but doesn't want to refrain from eating double-bacon-cheeseburgers?

She is a plus-size model. If they wanted a bulimic model they should have hired one. The alteration makes no sense.
-----------

Has BP confirmed the editing? I ask on the possibility that they are two different photos.

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Photoshop Rules! ... (Below threshold)

July 23, 2010 8:39 PM | Posted by Crop This: | Reply

Photoshop Rules!

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Ha, plus-size?! Yeah, a rea... (Below threshold)

July 23, 2010 9:05 PM | Posted by dk: | Reply

Ha, plus-size?! Yeah, a real fatty there. I would have killed to have her next to me on the train this evening instead of the, um, let's say exponent-size unshowered schizophrenic.

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Yea it sure does suck when ... (Below threshold)

July 24, 2010 1:55 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Yea it sure does suck when you're stuck on public transportation with a crazy schizophrenic or bipolar going off next to you. This has happened to me a few times now. One time it happened to me on a 4 hour train ride. I wanted to shoot myself in the face. The guy kept singing really loudly and making bizarre gestures with his hands. I was afraid he would turn around and single me out. Crazy people do that a lot. Fortunately he never noticed me.

DISCUSSION TOPIC: WHY DO CRAZY PEOPLE OFF MEDICATION ENJOY RIDING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SO MUCH? I would assume crazy people would wander on foot but no, they tend to ride buses and subways instead.

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dk said: Ha, plus-size?! Y... (Below threshold)

July 25, 2010 11:31 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

dk said: Ha, plus-size?! Yeah, a real fatty there. I would have killed to have her next to me on the train this evening instead of the, um, let's say exponent-size unshowered schizophrenic.

Well, she's "plus-size" in the sick alternative universe that models inhabit.

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and perhaps the cultural... (Below threshold)

July 25, 2010 9:38 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

and perhaps the cultural/political significance of that alteration in an objective manner befitting The Froth Estate.

I shall from this point forward refer to US Mass Media as "The Froth Estate." Cos that's just too perfect.

Interesting post, as ever. Promoting critical thinking will probably get you burned at the stake. Are you aware of this risk?

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I find your theories intere... (Below threshold)

July 26, 2010 1:10 PM | Posted by ATA: | Reply

I find your theories interesting if unpalatable. While you make the case for, well, the story being worth anything at all, I'm still wondering what it is we're lying to ourselves about if it isn't that we need stories to read in the first place.

Let's take the post on Inception as a case in point of there not necessarily being one. If there's a need for humanity to listen, watch, or read a story, or if our eyes are continually fixated on a trainwreck, it is not the story that draws our attention but the action of anything happening at all as our eyes suddenly have vectors and movement to analyze. If we find life so dull and boring that bitching about it has become an industry in and of itself (it doesn't stop with news, entertainment, or even our jobs) then our educations have failed us so miserably that we no longer look outward with curriosity, but inward with self-satisfaction at the behest of a few lines of text, dialogue, music, or media. If we're watching it, it means as a species, we still haven't found anything better to do.

Of course, I'm not arguing that we should be doing anything at all. If there's a garden of Eden that we all seem to want to get back to, devolving into a state of lackadaisical fighting and fucking, not much has changed since the inception of time. Maybe it's just my eternal optimism, but fruitless endeavors stem not from lying to ourselves, but helping others to do it so eloquently, efficiently, and with such an escellating intensity, that the age of dumb narcissism may end, but only to be replaced by a new age of cynicism, cyclically bound to the seemingly never-ending sources of information meant to keep our mind imprisoned from the reality that we're trying to conquer through science to break free from the unreality wrought upon us by cultural religion.

I mean really, it's probably just a huge coincidence that so many engineers are highly religious, and with that in mind, it's pretty fucking hilarious that they continue to believe in a grand intelligent designer when their own branch of science becomes too difficult and they begin to ponder the nature of existence without giving any thought to other possibilities that are not insane, but within the realm of sanity - not the magical thinking of ... games.

Trust is funny. That's why I find it so amusing that we give ourselves and others the tools to continually lie to ourselves, and everyone else in the process by extension.

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"DISCUSSION TOPIC: WHY D... (Below threshold)

July 26, 2010 1:32 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by BHL: | Reply

"DISCUSSION TOPIC: WHY DO CRAZY PEOPLE OFF MEDICATION ENJOY RIDING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SO MUCH? I would assume crazy people would wander on foot but no, they tend to ride buses and subways instead."

Because being disabled by mental illness generally does not pay well. Therefore, instead of jumping in your nice, air-conditioned car, or on a nice, fast airplane to get around, one is forced to rely on public transit to get where one is going. Also? it's one of those places where you can pay your fare once and be somewhere that is warm, dry and has bathrooms without constantly getting chucked out.

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BHL, before you mother tere... (Below threshold)

July 27, 2010 12:30 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

BHL, before you mother teresa on us, I would point out that the question was: "why do crazy people ride public transit as opposed to walking". I am well aware that psychotic people cannot afford a car or operate it correctly. However, getting on a subway or a bus is a pretty complicated logical activity and I'm actually surprised so many actively psychotic people are capable of even using public transportation. I would assume most of them would just meander about the streets.

I'm not talking about homeless people in general (who may or may not have mental illness). It is obviously why homeless people ride public transportation - it's clean and dry and safer than being on the street.

I am specifically talking about ACTIVELY PSYCHOTIC people with disordered thoughts who make no sense when you talk to them. These people amazingly enough ride the public transportation quite often and quite well and do so without any assistance from mentally oriented people.

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