Images and Objective Journalism

Oct 28, 2008 8:37am

In a Boston Herald column, conservative talker Michael Graham points out that only eight percent of the American people in one poll say reporters are objective and don’t favor either presidential candidate.

Beyond editorial content, a few of us were discussing the other day the very different types of photographs being used — the images of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill, versus the ones of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. — in coverage of this campaign, and how often they seem skewed in favor of the Democrat.

This was prompted by a photo essay of the candidates and various players in Election 2008 in the new issue of GQ.

The first image is a shot of Cindy McCain that can only be described as gruesome.

Shockingly so.

Cindy is pretty; this picture makes her look like one of those baked apple shrunken heads from that old Vincent Price toy.

I showed it to a photographer on the Obama plane; he said no one runs a picture like that unless they’re trying to make a person look bad.

On the other hand, I was chatting with a different photographer about some dueling images in a major newspaper — Obama ascendant before a Denver crowd of 100,000+ , McCain lurching like Frankenstein — and he said McCain is simply not photogenic and photographers covering him struggle for good shots.

I guess it’s always in the eye of the beholder, but it’s something we all need to keep an eye on.

– jpt

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