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Thread: Fake Photojournalism Wins

  1. #1
    Deceased, but remembered fondly here... johnastovall's Avatar
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    Fake Photojournalism Wins

    "Two French students were awarded the annual Grand Prix du Photoreportage Etudiant last week to honor a photographic story that presented images documenting the precarious lives of students today and the things they must do in order to survive and succeed.

    The only catch is that the entire story was a fake..."

    Full Story here....

    Fake Photojournalism or brilliant art?

    Other reactions here...
    Last edited by johnastovall; 2nd July 2009 at 07:17.

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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    Nice read John, thanks for posting.

  3. #3
    Oxide Blu
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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    What were the other two fakeries that passed as reality in their time?!? -- 'An Inconvenient Truth' by Al Gore and 'Fahrenheit 9/11' by Michael Moore. Both were subsequently debunked.

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    Quote Originally Posted by Oxide Blu View Post
    What were the other two fakeries that passed as reality in their time?!? -- 'An Inconvenient Truth' by Al Gore and 'Fahrenheit 9/11' by Michael Moore. Both were subsequently debunked.
    Could you please resist the temptation to troll?
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    Quote Originally Posted by Oxide Blu View Post
    What were the other two fakeries that passed as reality in their time?!? -- 'An Inconvenient Truth' by Al Gore and 'Fahrenheit 9/11' by Michael Moore. Both were subsequently debunked.
    Hmm. Not wanting to start a flame here, but I googled both publications you reference and read the resulting Wikipedia summary (which includes a description of the controversies.) While there was indeed controversy surrounding both, neither should be lumped into the same category as the French students' intentional fakery. Even "debunked" seems a bit strong. In the one, an endless argument about whether global warming is even real, and the other a strong political content issue.
    Last edited by TRSmith; 2nd July 2009 at 11:42.

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    Member Rick Waldroup's Avatar
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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    Quote Originally Posted by Oxide Blu View Post
    What were the other two fakeries that passed as reality in their time?!? -- 'An Inconvenient Truth' by Al Gore and 'Fahrenheit 9/11' by Michael Moore. Both were subsequently debunked.
    Only in your mind, and the minds of right-wing zombies, were they debunked.

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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    Thank you for those links! As a natural French speaker, I enjoyed reading the story. Here are few points according to me around that:

    - If there's one rule in photojournalism is that you need to report as is, no modification accepted! For sure the two guys failed at it!

    - I don’t blame Paris Match for having been fools by the trick. Maybe later they would put something into place to verify the authenticity of the contestants’ story.

    - Although they invented the story, I think there is something interesting that they communicated anyway about the students’ situation in France; this is definitely not journalism, but may be noteworthy in terms of communication.

    - They fully achieved what they were up to and for that, I raise my hat! They understood the system and they beat it from the system itself! Great!

    - All the reactions this thing created, after the facts, kind of increase the justification for them having done it. The more we blame them, the more it increases the justification for it! LOL!

    - Considering they are art students, you can hardly expect more from a student than the way these two students have thought outside of the box, communicated something strongly and provoked some reactions. I think it was a remarkable work. It wasn’t clear if it was a college work or not. If I were their teacher I would give them the highest score.

    - I don't necessarily know if I would refer as a "formulaic" thing, but I like what this may reveal about how magazines may be set for certain kind of news and will filter everything to only get those ones. In the public, we are receiving biased information just by the editorial choices made! I’m sure we can apply this logic to other magazine, newspaper or media. How good/true is the information we receive?

    - One thing I really got (a certain insight), as a photographer, is the influence of the photographer when taking the pictures. The choice of what to take, and not to take, is influencing the news, and probably as much as how is rendered the chosen ones. I kind of admit that by the end, the public is getting something, but how true it might be? With all the implications of all those people with each their own choices and interpretations of the facts, the public can only have a story about the facts and not the facts themselves! “The” thing I’m really getting now is that, even if it comes from the trustiest publisher and the story has been done as close as possible to the facts, it will be a story anyway!

    - From that insight, I have a suggested idea for a project that can probably goes into a similar direction than the one of the two French students. Chose one event and report it into two totally different ways, either by the same “reporter” or different ones. At the end, tell which one is true? If you only try to do one report, how would you do it? Like one of the two approaches or following a third one? Which one is really the true news? Where’s the truth?

    That are some of my thoughts! :-)
    Regards,
    Francois
    Francois B.

  8. #8
    Oxide Blu
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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    Hmm. Not wanting to start a flame here, but I googled both publications you reference and read the resulting Wikipedia summary (which includes a description of the controversies.) While there was indeed controversy surrounding both, neither should be lumped into the same category as the French students' intentional fakery. Even "debunked" seems a bit strong. In the one, an endless argument about whether global warming is even real, and the other a strong political content issue.

    It might be a mistake not to associate Gore's movie with the French students. Last I heard (from a climatologist that is front and center on global warming -- Brian Sussman) every point Gore brought up in his film has now been debunked by scientists studying the global warming issue. It took a couple of years but we now know no part of Gore's movie is reality. 'Debunked' is the correct word to use.

    Perhaps another thread to discuss it in more detail.

    Wikipedia is a good starting point for research but it would be a mistake to believe anything posted there without verifying it from other, more credible sources. About 1-1/2 years ago some folks on a boating forum updated several Wikipedia pages with bogas info about various boat manfrs and boat designs. It reads like reality unless you know about boats. It is hilarious -- a 26-ft recreational boat with a 3-ft thick reinforced fiberglass keel.

    SIL is a professor. Any assignment paper turned in citing Wikipedia as a source is returned, unread. Wikipedia is a good way to get pointed in the right direction to do research, but the data in Wikipedia itself may be corrupt.



    ETA: does anyone remember the unicorn fossil fraud?

  9. #9
    Oxide Blu
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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    Could you please resist the temptation to troll?
    Caught you.

    Sometimes it is better for a person not to respond to posts that are not of interest them.

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    Brian Sussman is hardly a credible source either. But if you are a follower, there's nothing I can say to dissuade you. Nevertheless, my original point still stands. Comparing an intentional fraud to either of the works you mention is not valid.

  11. #11
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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    Quote Originally Posted by johnastovall View Post
    Fake Photojournalism or brilliant art?
    I don't know if it was art (we really need a different kind of term for this type of activity that recognizes its value but doesn't conflate it with what Titian and Degas and Kate Sage did.)

    But it certainly was worth doing. Considering the importance given to awards and to journalism in general, it's good to be reminded frequently of how much those enterprises rest on unexamined assumptions that sometimes turn out not to be legitimate.

    I have a journalism degree and used to be a newspaper reporter and photographer, so I can tell you firsthand that a lot of journalism is based on what might be called "templates": shared ideas about what constitutes a good news story, a good feature picture, a good photojournalistic essay, etc.

    This "template" approach makes it easier to work quickly in a deadline-driven business, and it also serves as an important cross-check: if you notice that your photo of a politician you personally dislike deviates too far from the standard political feature photo, it can serve as a warning that you need to go back and corral your biases a bit more thoroughly.

    But this standardization also leads to situations in which stories and pictures are judged simply on how well they fit into the template, not on their individual value.

    Being a photographer who works on extended documentary-style projects, I tend to notice this especially in award competitions. I've learned from looking at the winners over the year that some photographic styles, subject types, and viewpoints are considered award-worthy, and others simply are not.

    The consensus winner is something I've dubbed plightography; it's a forgone conclusion that Lynn Lachrymose's touching essay on The Plight of Children with ____________ (fill in your favorite visually-dramatic hardship) is going to do much better in award competitions than, say, my essay on midnight heads-up drag racing... even though the "plight" essay is otherwise identical to the one that won last year, and the year before, and the year before...


    The French art students very astutely gamed the system by reverse-engineering the plightography template, synthesizing content to fit it perfectly, and demonstrating that the system would reward them for conforming to it. Bravo to them!

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    Super Duper
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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    Human nature - there are those who will always believe and those who never believe.

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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    Interesting post - thanks.
    Last edited by PeterA; 2nd July 2009 at 21:57.

  14. #14
    Oxide Blu
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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    Brian Sussman is hardly a credible source either.


    You might want to rethink that one.

    I guess Sussman has a new webpage, just found it. Ironic, note his take on Wikipedia -- from his bio page:



    I get a kick out of visiting the page dedicated to me at Wikipedia (or wicked-pedia as I like to call it). I'm not sure who is updating the content, but it certainly is not me. ...

    My TV career expanded into specializing in weather and the environment and led to post-graduate studies in meteorology.



    .

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    Waaay too far off topic (and to the right). Have a nice day.

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    Subscriber Member Georg Baumann's Avatar
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    Re: Fake Photojournalism Wins

    Well, thanks John for the interesting read.

    On the other "out of the blue" emerging point; Quoting talkshow populists with dysproportionate egos and a brain no bigger than a walnut, regardless from which political fraction, to slander Nobel Peace price winners, in fact both, Gore and the IPCC shared the price, who dedicated a huge portion of their live to the issues of climate change, is a bit of a farce, to say it mildly.

    The way in which you presented it however, discredits not only your source, who certainly does not need your help on that as he does enough to discredit himself, but also jeopardises your very own credibility to the maximum possible.

    That's all I have to say on this matter.

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