Wednesday, August 31, 2005

"Looters" and "Finders"

"Looter" with sodas...

Caption from the AP:
A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Flood waters continue to rise in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage when it made landfall on Monday. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Since when did the taking of food and beverages from grocery stores during catastrophic natural disasters become "looting"?
The press ought to be ashamed of themselves.

And look, here are some white "finders":

Caption from the AP:
Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans, Louisiana.(AFP/Getty Images/Chris Graythen)

Thanks to Justin for sending these my way.

9/1 UPDATE: I just noticed on a CNN slideshow that the caption of the top photo reads: "A young man drags groceries through chest-deep water in New Orleans on Tuesday."

Who knows? Maybe that's because the above comparison is literally *all over* the blogosphere.


See below what Yahoo has to say about the two pictures I (along with a katrillion other bloggers) posted on Wednesday. It's interesting to note the concern of AFP, a French News Service--they have asked that the "Finders" photo be removed and have released a fairly lengthy explanation for why the caption reads the way it does. Contrast this to the AP statement that their photographers say exactly what they see, and if they see someone taking something out of store then it is called "looting", plain and simple. Does the wholesale application of this term in New Orleans demonstrate the inability to grasp nuance, to apply correct connotative values to words, or does it demonstrate deep-seated unthinking bias?

To Yahoo! News readers:

News photos are an especially popular section of Yahoo! News. In part, this is because we present thousands of news photos from some of the leading news services, including The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France Press. To make this volume of photos available in a timely manner, we present the photos and their captions as written, edited and distributed by the news services with no additional editing at Yahoo! News.

In recent days, a number of readers of Yahoo! News have commented on differences in the language in two Hurricane Katrina-related photo captions (from two news services). Since the controversy began, the supplier of one of the photos – AFP – has asked all its clients to remove the photo from their databases. Yahoo! News has complied with the AFP request.

Here are a few of the postings that have commented on the photo caption language:





You can comment on the issue on this message board.

Yahoo! News regrets that these photos and captions, viewed together, may have suggested a racial bias on our part. We remain committed to bringing our readers the full collection of photos as transmitted by our wire service partners.

Neil Budde
General Manager
Yahoo! News