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I've been framed! ...badly.
April 10, 2011 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Framing matters!

I'm assuming the meat of this post is the video--a good video, which is worth watching, but which is described in the post and in the link only as containing graphic depictions of dead bombing victims.

The link in the post goes not to the YouTube-hosted video, but to a regurgitated press release for a debate hosted by an organization called Christians in the Media, tacked onto which is only the second part of the video out of three.

I just feel that the framing of a post is important, and that that one failed badly in several ways.

Am I wrong?
posted by Sys Rq to Etiquette/Policy at 7:34 PM (101 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

It did fail in some ways, as the poster acknowledged in not getting parts 1 and 3 of the video on it. I think the thread turned out pretty good though after Jess cleaned it up so this is more an instructional meta than a call for deletion or anything, right?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:37 PM on April 10, 2011


I don't know, I felt that the post -- which I was sort of on the fence on anyhow -- was linking to the video but it happened to be in the context of the Christian folks' debate on it. So, yeah not great. But people seemed to be interested in talking in the topic when I checked in and Forktine linked to the other videos and I felt like it was going okay.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:38 PM on April 10, 2011


I wouldn't mind if it stayed now, but I think it should have been deleted with a "care to try it again?"
posted by Sys Rq at 7:40 PM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It probably should have just been deleted at first, yeah. There is another horrors of war post directly below and another Afghanistan post two below.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:44 PM on April 10, 2011


This is one of those between-the-crack weekender things that we are hoping the addition of another set of eyeballs will help with. I was afraid to watch the video, didn't want to yank it without watching it and my paths didn't cross with anyone else to get a second opinion. I htink I agree with your assessment SysRq but didn't have quite a handle on it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:46 PM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just feel that the framing of a post is important, and that that one failed badly in several ways.

Eh, let it go.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:47 PM on April 10, 2011


IMO the post as written was flawed. I commented in the thread about it, saying it should have been a link to the 3 youtube vids, and the OP acknowledged. In the end I'm glad it was posted and I'm glad it wasn't deleted. As a side note it effected me emotionally far more than the other war posts today.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:55 PM on April 10, 2011


Jess, other than 517, the discussion is fine, the video was important... but, given the way it went, I would delete it...
posted by tomswift at 8:07 PM on April 10, 2011


/e-hug for 517, he needs it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:08 PM on April 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm glad it's there.
posted by phenylphenol at 8:15 PM on April 10, 2011


Looks like it'll be fine now that 517 seems to have stepped out of the thread. I think he had a personal thing going on there.

Really, the only thing I think that post needed / needs is a short description of what people are in store of watching the video. I mean, jessamyn: if you're afraid to watch it because you don't know what in god's name is in it, I imagine pretty much everybody else is, too.

Maybe something in the main FPP like "[warning: news story with images of dead bodies]" or something? I mean, there isn't footage of people being blown apart – which is what I was honestly afraid I was going to see if I watched this thing – nor is it just horrific hand-held uncut footage. It's actually a well-cut, well-told story that's worth seeing.

I really think that's all we need as far as framing is concerned here.
posted by koeselitz at 8:15 PM on April 10, 2011


I wouldn't be sad have a redo with some better context/framing.

But the framing of the post didn't irk me at all compared to 517. Maybe I'm just extra grouchy after a long day at work but man, his comments slipped right past my usual defenses and went straight to my nerves.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:15 PM on April 10, 2011


I am enjoying the discussion between 517 and the rest of the thread, not in a "woo get some popcorn!!" way but more in a "huh this may lead to some really interesting and well-articulated cases for and against disaster photojournalism and I might learn some things" way. I hope it doesn't get deleted.
posted by windbox at 8:27 PM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree that the framing sucked. I'm not entirely sure what part of the original link was meant to be the meat of the fpp, but the full video turned out to be really good reporting and well worth a fpp of its own. (And definitely, hugs for everyone.)
posted by Forktine at 8:29 PM on April 10, 2011


There were dead bodies in the film but nothing particularly gruesome. I have seen much worse on the Blue.

All three videos were worth watching in my humble opinion. And I think a better description of what was contained therein would have been worthwhile as well.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:32 PM on April 10, 2011


One thing that might be being missed in that thread is awareness of the seemingly universal hatred that first responders have had for journalism as they interact with it. It makes sense, they see journalists at their most callous, intrusive, exploitative, and recklessly deadly. I know the motherfuckers that editors send to protests ain't timid about other peoples blood, and don't care about whomever is bleeding.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:48 PM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I invited Stephen to join the discussion. I hope he joins in.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:50 PM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge: "It probably should have just been deleted at first, yeah. There is another horrors of war post directly below and another Afghanistan post two below."

If this were three posts covering the same events or conflict I'd probably agree, but they're about three different wars and focused on very different topics.
posted by zarq at 8:57 PM on April 10, 2011


I must have missed one of the American wars in Afghanistan. :P
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:02 PM on April 10, 2011


Taliban suicide bombers in Afghanistan target NATOforces, not American troops exclusively. There have been a number of incidents where local army bases and recruitment centers were targeted as well.

You participated in all three threads, I believe? Did you feel the conversations were repetitive?

I don't think knee-jerk deletions serve this community well. If you're going to make a case for why the posts should be deleted, by all means do so. But I gotta say, I don't think "all three were about war" is good enough reason for us to ask a mod to hit that button.
posted by zarq at 9:19 PM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The whole "journalists are parasites" thing pisses me off. Don't like the way (some) journalists you've seen behave at disasters or accidents? Fine - you feel what you feel. But to discount all of photojournalism and those who practice it, and the impact their work can have on policy - not to mention the importance of documenting things that happen in war - is bullshit.
posted by rtha at 9:20 PM on April 10, 2011 [3 favorites]



Taliban suicide bombers in Afghanistan target NATOforces, not American troops exclusively.


Stretching dude, it's the same war.

You participated in all three threads, I believe? Did you feel the conversations were repetitive?

They branched off well, but three posts in a row on such similar topics was overkill.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:24 PM on April 10, 2011


furiousxgeorge: " Stretching dude, it's the same war."

If you're right, we have two posts on one war and one post that only tangentially mentions that same war but is really about WWII. Afghanistan wasn't brought up in the German thread once.

furiousxgeorge: "They branched off well...

No, they were disparate enough that they didn't "branch off." They were drastically different posts from the start and all three threads reflected that by not covering similar ground.

but three posts in a row on such similar topics was overkill."

To whom?
posted by zarq at 9:37 PM on April 10, 2011


If you're right

My eyes are rolling so hard they started to bleed. :)

Really? I mean three baseball threads in a row about three different teams wouldn't raise an eyebrow?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:39 PM on April 10, 2011


furiousxgeorge: " Really? I mean three baseball threads in a row about three different teams wouldn't raise an eyebrow?"

The point I've been trying to convey to you is that these specific three posts are different enough from each other that folding the content of any one of them inside the other two as a comment wouldn't make any sense. Doing so might actually derail either thread.

When a post is deleted because another has been made on a similar topic, the mods typically request that the poster add the content to the already open thread. That suggestion wouldn't fit well in this case.
posted by zarq at 9:44 PM on April 10, 2011


Gonna have to agree to disagree on that, I think all three could have fit in one.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:53 PM on April 10, 2011


I now see that the thread in question has resumed its masturbatory tone in regards to photojournalists and the self important nature of those who do it, rather than what they are photographing. There's even a discussion about the importance of the photographer who offed himself because he actually had to take a picture of someone dying. How awful for him. And then he had to come back to the states and still be poor after his hero's journey, tragic. (No seriously, it's sad, but you do understand that the person he took a picture of was a starving child. He got real close, spent time focusing his camera, and then he took a picture, walked away, and hoped to make some money off it. You'll also notice that the first line in his suicide note that astro zombie posted mentions money, it isn't until later that he carps about his haunted soul.)

I think that one of the more striking qualities of most artists/photo-what-evers is that they don't understand that their vision, art, creation is just their viewpoint, and their viewpoint is irrelevant, because everyone has a viewpoint. The best ones are so egocentric that they don't understand how anyone could not care about what they think and feel. They suffer the same angst that everyone else does, but they crow about their's and expect the world to sit back in awe of their sacrifice. I suppose that is the essence of art, one person trying to express themselves to others, but when their medium is the pain, suffering, and death of real people, it makes me nauseous.
posted by 517 at 10:23 PM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're kind of a jerk.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:29 PM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think that one of the more striking qualities of most artists/photo-what-evers is that they don't understand that their vision, art, creation is just their viewpoint, and their viewpoint is irrelevant, because everyone has a viewpoint.

Take a walk, brother. I say this with love.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:36 PM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


What does that mean joe?
posted by 517 at 10:54 PM on April 10, 2011


What does that mean joe?

It means that, speaking from of a non-combative, actually-kinda sympathetic position, I think it wise if you consider something like a momentary self-imposed pause in commenting on this issue. Not because I think I have anything especially (uniquely) useful to contribute to the larger question of photojournalism and human misery, but because it seems to me you are coming from such a highly-charged personal position on this that you end up posting comments equivalent to: Most artists fail to have a valid viewpoint because everyone has a viewpoint and every viewpoint is valid. without realizing how odd that sounds.

I mentioned love to indicate my lack of antipathy.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:04 PM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think that one of the more striking qualities of most artists/photo-what-evers is that they don't understand that their vision, art, creation is just their viewpoint, and their viewpoint is irrelevant, because everyone has a viewpoint.

Um, I'm a photographer (but not photojournalist), and I am fully aware that my work is just my viewpoint, thank you very much. It's not that I feel my way of seeing the world is better, it's just different, and that's what I teach my photography students as well.

Photographers and other artists share things that interest us in the hope that someone else will connect, knowing that of course not everyone will feel a connection.

So please don't foist your issues on me, because my head is not made of glass and you cannot see what I'm thinking.
posted by bwg at 11:04 PM on April 10, 2011


As an industrial photographer, working remotely, I was once asked to cover a story for a National newspaper - 5 women, all members of the same family (3 generations) were killed by a wayward truck on a country highway. I was torn by the sheer weight of the situation. I am not a photo-journalist; I make things look nice, I compose, I light. I could see the point of why this kind of thing requires documenting - but I was not the person to do it. My agent (a retired photographer) and I discussed the situation, and he convinced me that there was a greater good, that I needed to bear in mind. I wasn't overly convinced, but I grabbed my kit, and tried not to think about what it was that I was about to witness. I got in my car and drove out the road - coming to a road-block, a policeman stopped me. He told me that nothing had been touched, that the bodies were still laying about the road - as is customary for major road accidents, awaiting an investigation team from Melbourne to arrive. He was calm, officious. He told me, given my age (23 at the time) that it wasn't the kind of thing I'd really want to see or experience. I drove home. I don't think I ever reconciled that decision.

I have a great admiration for good photojournalists. I have great admiration for those that tend to the injured, deal with the dead. But there is a synergy, and one sincerely hopes to lessen the work of the other, I believe.
posted by a non e mouse at 11:06 PM on April 10, 2011


Look, I feel like I need to explain why I posted the FPP.

I found that video while aimlessly surfing. It's on an Australian newspaper site, sourced from an (Australian) ABC show, as explained by someone else in the thread. The whole Christian press release thing didn't even register with me. And I never thought to check Youtube or anywhere else for further info or videos. My bad.

As I was reeling after watching it, I thought, "man, I would love to get Metafilters' take on the choice between taking pics or laying down the camera to help".

I quickly made a Mefi post. It could have been framed better, I agree. It was a knee-jerk response to something that had me conflicted and confused but I didn't want to start a shitfight.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 12:09 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Harping on a dude because he didn't order topics in his suicide note "correctly"? Really dude? Really?
posted by giraffe at 3:50 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm coming to the conclusion that nobody who uses the words "masturbatory" or "circle jerk" in regards to an earnest discussion has anything of value to say about the subject being discussed.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:42 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


By the way, Kevin Carter didn't go back to the United States. He was from South Africa, and that's where he died. If you're going to spit on a dead man, it's worth taking one fucking moment to learn about him before you get on your high horse of compassion for the suffering, and how photojournalists lack it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:48 AM on April 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


So on my slow-ass connection, i've just watched the main video. I'm sorry 517 did not apparently watch the video. Because I felt for the journalist. In my own emergency response training, which admittedly may not be as extensive as 517's, I can appreciate a person's illogical response to shock.

What I can't understand is someone with an axe to grind and uses it here, because they may not have elsewhere to grind it. It's hateful and silly. In a bad way.

517, if you end up reading the comments of both posts, please understand that not one person here wishes you ill, but that all comments come from concern about your state of mind when posting.

I'm not sure I'd like to be in a situation where I am running on adrenalin and shock from a situation and you are helping to write a police report about how I may not have been acting correctly in your definition of human response.

May I politely suggest that a new path or career would be beneficial to yourself? Burnout happens to the best of us. Please do not be the first responder that comes in with preconceived notions of behavior during shock. Even the victims may be at risk from miss-reading a situation.
posted by efalk at 4:51 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


also, i like the word situation
posted by efalk at 5:07 AM on April 11, 2011


I really don't understand why people are having such a hard time dealing with 517's opinion. Was something deleted from that thread?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 7:03 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


"May I politely suggest that a new path or career would be beneficial to yourself? Burnout happens to the best of us. Please do not be the first responder that comes in with preconceived notions of behavior during shock. Even the victims may be at risk from miss-reading a situation."

Jesus... Mixing in commentary on art, even if it lacks the benefit of a liberal arts education, with an otherwise valid perspective that happens to be casual about death on the internet is not what burnout in first responders looks like. You have clearly never seen burnout in first responders.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:23 AM on April 11, 2011


I really don't understand why people are having such a hard time dealing with 517's opinion.

And I'm not clear on why you're surprised people disagree with 517, or think the tone was weirdly hostile.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:33 AM on April 11, 2011


"As I was reeling after watching it, I thought, "man, I would love to get Metafilters' take on the choice between taking pics or laying down the camera to help"."

You know, I read a quote somewhere once to the effect that there are basically two jobs where you train yourself to run TOWARDS a disaster instead of AWAY FROM a disaster, and those jobs are first responder and journalist. And then you do what you were trained to do. When I covered (small, local) disasters as a puppy journalist, I STOOD THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY because I don't know from jack when it comes to first responding. Observe, record, report, try to talk to people who are not actively bleeding, get a quote from the ranking officer who shows up to liaise. I wasn't standing there watching and not helping because I think fires are awesome; I was standing there not helping because I AM USELESS. Same reason I stood there not helping last year when my neighbor's house was on fire. There is nothing I could have done that would not have been more hindrance than help once the experts were on the scene.

That said, I have on several occasions seen journalists help, from things as simple as restraining a family dog that's trying to run back into a burning house until the fire department or an owner can take control of the pet, to, on 9/11, most of the reporters at the Pentagon put down their equipment, after agreeing that the couple of guys left filming would pool their footage for everyone, and went to carry stretchers in the evacuation.

For a while I wrote obituaries at a college newspaper, which is pretty much the worst job I can imagine because it's all kids 18-22 dying untimely young, typically in ways either violent or stupid or tragic. I hated, hated, hated it and I absolutely felt like a vulture having to call roommates and friends and families of dead young people. But the thing was, an awful lot of those people WANTED to talk to a reporter. They WANTED the person's story told and remembered, they WANTED the community to take notice of his death. I usually started with someone who knew the deceased reasonably well but wasn't a roommate or relative (coaches were great) and asked them who they thought would be willing to talk (and sometimes if THEY would call person X and ask if person X would call me) and went on up the chain that way, so I wasn't cold-calling mom, but it was always shocking to me how many people wanted to speak to me about it. Sometimes I'd even get e-mails, like, "I am crying too hard to talk but I heard you are doing the obituary for Joe and I wanted to send you a quote ..." So it was, in its way, a service not only to the community but to the family and friends of the deceased ... and I think crime reporting, war reporting, etc., are the same, even though it is difficult and raises a lot of ethical questions.

That said, I got the hell off that beat as soon as I could, because I never, ever hated it any less and I never, ever felt less like a vulture. Getting a thank-you note from some kid's mom because I did a good job eulogizing her child and remembering him as he would have wanted to be remembered made me want to go drink for days and threw me into a depression every time. I was just not emotionally built to cope with it.

I thought about saying some of this in thread but I don't know anything about war reporting specifically and I didn't want to throw fuel on the fighty fire. But these are certainly questions journalists think about. On the other hand, it puts me in mind of a legal question that came up locally when I was in law school, where some mandatory child abuse reporters were studying the phenomenon of child abuse in a way that they thought the findings could be used to combat child abuse overall. They wanted to be exempted from the mandatory reporting rules so they could observe a child abused over a period of years for better data-gathering. And my response to that was, "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?" I think there are some differences, since they actually wanted to find a specific child and watch him or her suffer abuse in silence for years, not just not engage in a one-off situation where there are a bunch of other people aware of the problem and already helping, but it's a very serious moral question. A journalist may help 10,000 people by watching a dozen suffer and reporting that so people know what's happening, but these researchers claimed they could help 10,000 children by watching a dozen suffer ... how different is it, really? Are you obligated to help the dude in front of you, or are the hypothetical 10,000 more important? Ugly, hard questions in many realms, not just journalism.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:38 AM on April 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Burnout in first responders looks more like a guy finishing his sandwich before turning on the sirens and rushing to the scene.

517 was pretty clearly throwing his own baggage into the mix while ascribing motivations to Carter. Even if Carter was working from a place of egocentric opportunism (and really, most of us do our work from that place more or less) these photos sill need to be shown to people living in relative peace. They need to be shown more.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:38 AM on April 11, 2011


"Burnout in first responders looks more like a guy finishing his sandwich before turning on the sirens and rushing to the scene."

If you ever go to a bar in Key West or Vegas at 10 am and have a heart attack, you be surprised at the quality of drunken care you are likely to receive.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:31 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Was something deleted from that thread?

I think we deleted a few comments, one of SysRq's asking "why is this here" [and the derail that followed] and one calling 517 names after this thread was opened. That's it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:34 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


517: “I now see that the thread in question has resumed its masturbatory tone...”

You haven't been posting in it, so it's been going okay. That thread is better off without your bragging about how you're a first responder, and that makes you better than everybody else. Which I'm sure is bullshit, too, since you don't seem to be able to say anything more about it.

All you've done is spout uninformed bullshit about how people are "supposed" to act in tragedy, uninformed and frankly ignorant muck which shows absolutely zero understanding of how acute stress reactions and acute stress disorder actually occur in the world, spouting big words like "perseverating" as if that shows that you have expertise when actual perseveration isn't an accepted or very common symptom of acute stress reactions at all anyhow.

So it's clear that you don't have medical training, and I begin to wonder if your backstory is true at all. At this point I don't think I'd give you the benefit of the doubt and accept this "first responder" stuff you've hinted at (never stated clearly). You don't have any more authority in my mind than anybody else on this, 517, and frankly I would not be surprised in the least if the reporter in the linked video has saved a hell of a lot more lives than you ever have or ever will.

Not that you care. You clearly aren't about saving lives; else you'd see that pictures, reports, stories, coverage of world events, these things all save lives, sometimes a lot more lives than a medic on the ground can. No, what you care about is pretty basic: narcissism, pure and simple, and the feeling that you're more important than other people.
posted by koeselitz at 8:49 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


koeselitz, dial it back please. Spleen-venting doesn't make anywhere on this site a better place to be.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:53 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that didn't help. Ugh.
posted by koeselitz at 9:16 AM on April 11, 2011


That was so much projection onto me that I don't where to start koeselitz. I never "bragged" about being a first responder, I mentioned it and also the fact that it gave me a larger dataset with which to assess the guy's behavior than anyone else in the thread.

I also mentioned perseverating as occuring with a TBI, not acute stress. But I guess your google search didn't help you much with that one.

"So it's clear that you don't have medical training...

So based on a misreading of what I said and a quick google search of a term you didn't understand, you think that you have a basis to argue that I have no medical training. How am I supposed to have a disscussion with that kind of that behavoir in opposition to me, because I don't want to.

This i why I don't enjoy metafilter. I disagree with the general direction of the thread, and it turns into mountains of crap like koeselitz post just above this one.
posted by 517 at 10:23 AM on April 11, 2011


> I mentioned it and also the fact that it gave me a larger dataset with which to assess the guy's behavior than anyone else in the thread.

No, it didn't. It gave you a particular dataset, but not larger than anyone else.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:27 AM on April 11, 2011


> This i why I don't enjoy metafilter. I disagree with the general direction of the thread, and it turns into mountains of crap like koeselitz post just above this one.

koeselitz was over the line, but "mountains of crap" better describes your own contributions to these threads. You are an excellent example of why I don't much enjoy MetaFilter any more. You obviously enjoy soaking in your own self-righteousness, but don't expect the rest of us to glory in it.
posted by languagehat at 10:29 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never had much regard for you anyway languagehat. Considering the fact that I rarely post to the blue, and the last time i did it was an argument with people who thought correlation proved causation, that was ridiculous on their part, I don't think I'm the reason you don't enjoy metatfilter anymore.
posted by 517 at 10:35 AM on April 11, 2011


I mentioned it and also the fact that it gave me a larger dataset with which to assess the guy's behavior than anyone else in the thread.

I'm a Premack winning journalist. I mostly do arts coverage, but I've done hard news as well, and was the editor-in-chief of a newspaper. I've covered fires and the like. I would not say that you have a larger dataset than I do. You have a different one, but it's more than offset by a whole bunch of unexamined and unrehearsed bias and knee-jerk outrage.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:41 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never had much regard for you anyway languagehat.

You'd do well to start.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:42 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


unrehearsed? Of course, I meant unresearched.

I have never been a line editor.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:43 AM on April 11, 2011


If you're going to carry on with the attacks...

On what basis are my biases unresearched?
posted by 517 at 10:45 AM on April 11, 2011


I disagree with the general direction of the thread,

What? You didn't disagree with the "general direction" of the thread - you declared that this journalist is a parasite, that you are best able to judge the motives of those who do photojournalism, that this guy in particular is not a photojournalist for altruistic reasons, and that because everyone has a viewpoint, the viewpoint of a photojournalist doesn't count (or something? I didn't get your point at all, there).

Mostly what you did that was beyond irritating was make pronouncements about the motives and actions of someone you don't know at all. Do you diagnose patients you've never examined as well?
posted by rtha at 10:49 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


On what basis are my biases unresearched?

because you've demonstrated no understanding of journalism. Contempt does not demonstrate research.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:59 AM on April 11, 2011


Could you point out where I demonstrated no understanding of journalism?
posted by 517 at 11:01 AM on April 11, 2011


Yes. In every single thing you have written.

Can you point out where you have stated a single fact about journalism? You even got the nationality of the deceased photojournalist wrong.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:02 AM on April 11, 2011


"You even got the nationality of the deceased photojournalist wrong."

Yes I did, I read about him a few years ago, and didn't both to reread anything about him before posting. You'll have to forgive my memory after a few years, I just didn't remember, or maybe never read, that he was from South Africa.

Still, you're comment is far from illuminating. Could you please point out where I demonstrated no understanding of journalism?
posted by 517 at 11:06 AM on April 11, 2011


When you compared the role of a journalist during a disaster to that of a computer repairman?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:12 AM on April 11, 2011


I am not clear on what you are looking for. It's very hard to point to an absence. If you feel you do have some knowledge of journalism, you have not demonstrated it in the preceding thread, or in this one. There is not a single statement you have made that has shown you to be familiar with photojournalism, or journalistic ethics, or the ethics of taking photos in the field, or during wartime. Nothing you have said has shown you have ever spoken to a journalist, much less one who has been a war, and has seen action, and has been wounded, but continued doing their job. You expressed no actual knowledge of the photojournalist that was the subject of the thread, although you did make a series of assumptions about his motivations, his finances, and his morality, which you then expanded to a generalized slagging off of an entire profession, again without any sort of facts to back it up, or any incisive critique, or any demonstration of one iota, one jot, one tittle of information. You smeared that thread with contempt for a profession, for a man who was injured doing a very dangerous job and continued doing it anyway, and then proceeded to piss on the memory of a suicide, without giving him so much the courtesy of looking him up to double-check your facts, even though links were provided. There were no facts stated in your expression of contempt. If facts were the economy, you are the deficit.

Is that clear enough?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:13 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


517: “On what basis are my biases unresearched?”

One more time, with a deep breath and hopefully more rationally:

It's sort of unfair to ask us to accept your authority on how people act when in shock when you clearly would rather not get into personal details on that authority. I don't think you should be required to tell us all about your life or anything like that; there's a reason metafilter can be anonymous if you choose, and I don't have any special curiosity on that point. However, you're asking us simply to accept you're right about this without backing it up. You really don't have to offer a whole bunch of complicated evidence; just tell us clearly what would lead to your conclusions.

Furthermore, it was hard for me to see how you got to the conclusions you were making in the thread. Maybe I was reading your comments wrong, but it seemed as though you were implying that this fellow was culpable because his brain wasn't injured. Why is that? You're leaving off two very important pieces of information here:

(1) He is clearly in shock, and is acting precisely the way a person who is in shock is likely to act;

(2) He expressed remorse and sorrow at the way he acted in the video, and clearly felt terrible for doing the things he did.

I understand that this was personally affecting for you, and I can understand how some first responders might feel about journalists. I imagine it's similar to the way doctors feel about lawyers: here are people who aren't helping, and who in fact just get in the way of people who are. (Maybe I'm wrong about your sense here; please correct me if I am.)

However, it was crystal-clear, after watching all three parts of the video, that if the journalist had it to do again, he would've dropped his camera and helped his friend. He apologized for the way he acted, and felt terrible about it.

Anyway: I apologize for what I said above. It was a personal attack; I made it because I was frustrated with the way you personalized this by making it about your own experience, but that was the wrong way to express my frustration.

I should have said: I don't think whether or not your biases are unresearched is really a point that matters here. I don't doubt that you may well be a well-trained, experienced first responder with lots of first-hand knowledge. But what matters is that you really can't dismiss this or any journalist based on snap observations. You actually implicitly dismissed all journalists in the thread by announcing that you hate them. I'm really not one to talk, but I can see how that kind of comment might have bothered a lot of people.

And I really do believe that good journalism can save lives. If people weren't out there telling these stories, we wouldn't even know that there were suicide bombings in Afghanistan, for example. Journalism and emergency response ideally have to work together, I think, and I know that might be rare, but it's still something to strive for.
posted by koeselitz at 11:19 AM on April 11, 2011


Umm... koeselitz, this is what he said,

"The idea of perseverating, which is the most classic idea of acting on autopilot occurs in a TBI, but this guy was not perseverating."

I'm not familiar with the current literature, but I was taught that perseveration is the classic sign of the kinds of neurological damage and acute stress that causes people to autopilot their way into more danger, and to watch out for it in injured crowds. 517's comment is not only factually correct, at least as of a few years ago (and if thats changed I'd love to know) but insightful. I hadn't noticed it but when 517 mentioned it one of the big reasons some of excuses in the thread felt so vaguely wrong made sense.

"No, what you care about is pretty basic: narcissism, pure and simple, and the feeling that you're more important than other people."

You're right, clearly 517 must be an EMT (I keed because I love :)). 517's particular kind of self-assured arrogance is incredibly representative of the wonderfully slightly asshataholic first responders I've known, I think it would be difficult for a network administrator in their mother's basement to replicate.

On preview: But seriously, languagehat is awesome.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:20 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joao Silva was a photographer for the NYT who kept taking pictures after he stepped on a mine and lost both his legs. Those actions 517 probably adjudges to be okay, since he was probably in shock and on autopilot. But the guy in the fpp, 517 can tell, is not in shock or on autopilot (excellent diagnostic skills!), and is therefore a parasite.
posted by rtha at 11:27 AM on April 11, 2011


Though, languagehat, I think Metafilter's tendency to take people who word things strongly or weirdly (and in this case also correctly with added experience not currently in the thread) and poke them for entertainment until they say things more weirdly shits on my mefite parade more than the fact that we attract folks who say things weirdly or not quite clearly.

The community's pile-on of 517, which included established members who should know better, was not a reflection of us being awesome to each other
posted by Blasdelb at 11:43 AM on April 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Though, languagehat, I think Metafilter's tendency to take people who word things strongly or weirdly (and in this case also correctly with added experience not currently in the thread) and poke them for entertainment until they say things more weirdly shits on my mefite parade more than the fact that we attract folks who say things weirdly or not quite clearly.

I am curious as to where you think this happened in this case.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:46 AM on April 11, 2011


Blasdelb: “The community's pile-on of 517, which included established members who should know better, was not a reflection of us being awesome to each other”

517 said he hated journalists, and said that they shove cameras in peoples' faces and act like they're heartless even in the rare circumstances when they actually aren't. Pile-ons should be avoided, but that didn't help.
posted by koeselitz at 12:04 PM on April 11, 2011


It strikes me as exceedingly uncharitable to ascribe undemonstrated motivations to responses here, especially when those motivations are, essentially, "you like to poke the weirdos with sticks to see them get nutsy."
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:10 PM on April 11, 2011


> I think Metafilter's tendency to take people who word things strongly or weirdly (and in this case also correctly with added experience not currently in the thread) and poke them for entertainment until they say things more weirdly shits on my mefite parade

I get what you're saying, but I don't really see that happening in either thread. Also, there are no corners here. People don't have to feel backed into a place where they need to result to more hostile and reactionary comments to make an opening for escape or something. There's no shame in looking at statements others have made against one's own comments and try to give an objective valuation of the transaction instead of presuming that they are right and everyone else is wrong.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:15 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess you're right koeselitz, perhaps I was primed to be a bit more understanding knowing at least roughly where 517 was coming from to begin with. However, 517 did honestly have something valuable to contribute to the conversation, even if it was absent the appropriate context, and it was a little heartbreaking watching a pile-on on someone who is plainly not a common troll instead of arriving at that context

Astro Zombie,
"This is just heartless."
which moved onto,
"If you're going to make a whole lot of arguments from authority, it's customary to commence at this point with actually telling us what it is you do that's given you this experience, so that you can move on to bragging about it. Maybe start by telling us when your last tour in Afghanistan was? Maybe the last time you dealt with a suicide bombing?"
and then
"Oh for flurk's sake, 517, you don't know this person. You have no idea what he is motivated by. Your argument has basically devolved to poo-flinging at this point. Give it a rest."
and then
this
It just felt the whole thread was a big path to koeselitz's regrettable comment just above in this thread

Seriously, what it says at the bottom of the comment screen here is true.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:16 PM on April 11, 2011


Those might not be the most circumspect or cautiously worded comments, Blasdelb, but I am going to disagree with you that they were in some way motivated to get 517 to make some additional bizzarro comment so we could mock him more. His initial comment in the thread was quite outre, and quite contemptuous, and his comments grew even more so. He came into this thread at nobody's behest, as is his right, and proceeded to describe the discussion in the other thread as masturbatory, and then said some really godawfully mean-spirited things about a dead man.

The reactions to these comments were in earnest. They weren't intended to bait him. And, unless you have evidence otherwise, that's the only safe assumption we can make.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:22 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Blasdelb: “it was a little heartbreaking watching a pile-on on someone who is plainly not a common troll”

I agree that 517 isn't "a common troll." However, if you say inflammatory things, and you keep saying those inflammatory things and furthermore escalating them, and when those inflammatory things just happen to be person insults of the subject of the post, I don't know if it matters whether you're a "common troll" or not, since you've just basically done what common trolls do.
posted by koeselitz at 12:32 PM on April 11, 2011


Holly Gennero McClane: After all your posturing, all your little speeches, you're nothing but a common [troll].
Hans Gruber: I am an exceptional [troll], Mrs. McClane. And since I'm moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite.
posted by Ragged Richard at 12:38 PM on April 11, 2011


That was pretty mild as far as pile-ons go, but getting piled on is just something that happens when you disagree around here. There isn't really any way to fix it without more severe and involved mod intervention than you would really want.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:45 PM on April 11, 2011


Pile-ons should be avoided, but that didn't help.

You either think people deserve crappy treatment if they act crappy or you do not. Blaming someone for a pile-on is acting like there is some line where if you're this terrible you deserve what you get whereas if you're that terrible you don't. At the point at which people start hyperbolically exaggerating the other side's position and starting the "therefore you must believe THIS" talk, you're sort of not having a good faith discussion. And I mean this directed towards everyone not just 517 and not just the "pile on" people.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:57 PM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


"It's very hard to point to an absence."

It is.

"If you feel you do have some knowledge of journalism, you have not demonstrated it in the preceding thread, or in this one. There is not a single statement you have made that has shown you to be familiar with photojournalism..."

I stated that I was familiar with journalist's behavior. I stated observations I had made about their behavior. I also stated that I hated journalists, not journalism, so what is your point?


"or journalistic ethics, or the ethics of taking photos in the field, or during wartime"

You do have me there. I haven't bothered to educate myself in the ethics of journalism, or photography as neither are my field, and I've never been to war.

"Nothing you have said has shown you have ever spoken to a journalist...

Really? Maybe you should read my comments again.

"You expressed no actual knowledge of the photojournalist that was the subject of the thread..."

I saw and commented on his behavior and actions, so I don't see how you say I have no knowledge of him.

"...although you did make a series of assumptions about his motivations..."

Based on his behavior in the video, and his commentary on it.


"...his finances, and his morality..."

Not his, no. Sorry. But maybe you're talking about the other guy, in which case the answer would be, I was referencing his finances from a letter he wrote, not making an assumption. about them. I also spoke about both guy's motives, not their morality.

"... which you then expanded to a generalized slagging off of an entire profession, again without any sort of facts to back it up...

Based on the experiences I referenced in the comments I made...


I could continue with this, but I don't want to waste any more of time. You are a journalist and you've spent most your comment putting words and my mouth, misinterpreting what I said, and ignoring the facts that are there in blue and white.

I think I know all I need to know about the ethics of journalism.
posted by 517 at 1:29 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


However, 517 did honestly have something valuable to contribute to the conversation, even if it was absent the appropriate context, and it was a little heartbreaking watching a pile-on

Agreed. I'd like to thank 517 for adding a valuable perspective to the discussion, despite the best efforts of the pile-on crowd.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:37 PM on April 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


I could continue with this, but I don't want to waste any more of time.

Yes. I don't think we're going to reach detente. You obviously consider your representation of the photojournalist as a parasite to be entirely fair and my representation of you as unlearned and weirdly hostile as being unfair. I do not wish to go through and parse your every sentence to justify my statements.

But I will say that I don't agree with Blazecock, and am not of the opinion that unjustified hostility toward journalists in general or this one in particular is valuable. You may have something to contribute, as you say you are a first responder. But you have not actually contributed any new data points based on this, but instead used it as a way to give credibility to your contempt.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:47 PM on April 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


So if you don't want to refute my points, you'll just condemn my person and call it good?

That's class right there. The level I would expect from a journalist.
posted by 517 at 2:01 PM on April 11, 2011


You are a journalist and you've spent most your comment putting words and my mouth, misinterpreting what I said, and ignoring the facts that are there in blue and white.

I think I know all I need to know about the ethics of journalism.


Well, two things. 1. You showed a pretty blatant distaste for journalists, all of them. That's a pretty broad brush. I used to be one too. Know what I covered? Mostly local human interest stories. Apparently I still earn your hate. It doesn't bother me, but you might consider that there are a lot of different TYPES of journalist i.e. we don't all cover the same type of events in the same way. Honestly I worked for a small town paper few several years and don't think I met one person who covered, in person, a medical emergency on site. Most of the time we were doing stuff about the strawberry harvest or the local elementary school read-a-thon.

2. Your last sentence reveals that you no longer deem it necessary to even learn about journalistic ethics because of what one commenter said on a website. Now, based on your previous statements, I'm not surprised as you take a very dim view of the profession altogether, but honestly dismissing the validity of an entire field based on one anonymous commenter? If I may quote Gomez Addams, "Dirty pool, old man."

I think there are valid points on both sides of the spectrum, including some of 517's points. Unfortunately his intense hatred of journalists (not journalism-although I'm not sure how that works) IS a huge obstacle to having a constructive conversation with him.

On Preview: And there again, journalist as an insult. Really, I think you have some valid points, but this bile you spew about journalists is making it difficult for me.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:03 PM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


So if you don't want to refute my points, you'll just condemn my person and call it good?

That's hardly what I did. You're not arguing in good faith.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:04 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, no, no wait, an award winning journalist. I almost forgot that. Just enjoy polishing it for your Mid-western 2nd rate words about a third hand version of reality, or what you like to call art.
posted by 517 at 2:05 PM on April 11, 2011


you'll just condemn my person and call it good?

Oh, I see what you're referring to there. You're own behavior toward me. I apologize. The way you worked it, you made it sound as though I had done that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:06 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, no, no wait, an award winning journalist. I almost forgot that. Just enjoy polishing it for your Mid-western 2nd rate words about a third hand version of reality, or what you like to call art.

Whoa. I backed out of this thread after having said my share last night so as to avoid a pile-on, but this is completely uncalled for. Wish you had heeded my advice last night, 517. Now you are just coming across as seriously unhinged.

I keep waiting for the insightful analysis from this other perspective a few people keep insisting you are bringing, but I mostly just see poo-flinging and a general hostility to journalism. Not helpful.

If it helps, I will still give you a hug, as everybody needs one.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:15 PM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


psst, 517, I think this was sarcasm...

It sucks that that thread seemed so eager to pile-on, but now you seem to be doing all the digging yourself. Insulting everyone around you is just rude.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:16 PM on April 11, 2011


It's amazing how easy it is, though, Blasdelb.
posted by koeselitz at 2:18 PM on April 11, 2011


517, there is such a thing as degree, shades of grey and nuance. Your world seems to be made entirely of black and white. It's not the world the rest of us live in.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:32 PM on April 11, 2011


> I could continue with this, but I don't want to waste any more of time. You are a journalist and you've spent most your comment putting words and my mouth, misinterpreting what I said, and ignoring the facts that are there in blue and white.

I think I know all I need to know about the ethics of journalism.


You are acting like a complete asshole here. You need to step back, take a deep breath, and consider how you are coming across. To everyone but Blazecock Pileon, you are coming across very badly indeed. Is that what you want?
posted by languagehat at 8:01 AM on April 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


What do you even want, 517? The elimination of journalism from the universe? When famine strikes and thousands or millions of people are starving in Africa, you would prefer that it be a secret, that all those kids simply fall over dead in the dust, unremarked except by the vultures? When the West engages in an expeditionary war and destabilizes entire regions, should the resultant violence be invisible to everyone that isn't subject to it?

What?
posted by kavasa at 1:26 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm an EMT, photojournalist and terrorist bombing survivor, so I'm able to look at this a few different ways. None of those ways mesh with anything 517 is saying though.... yikes.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:48 PM on April 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


To everyone but Blazecock Pileon, you are coming across very badly indeed. Is that what you want?

I don't know what your deal is, languagehat, but leave me out of it. Cheers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:25 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huh? My deal is that I like being accurate. I was about to make the unqualified statement, but then I remembered that you'd left a comment giving strong support for 517, so I qualified it. No personal reflection intended, and if you don't want to be part of it, don't make yourself part of it.
posted by languagehat at 8:20 AM on April 13, 2011


My deal is that I like being accurate.

Really? Then why doesn't your list of Allies to Assholes include the person BP was actually defending, i.e. Blasdelb?

You are acting like a complete asshole here. You need to step back, take a deep breath, and consider how you are coming across.

Indeed, languagehat.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:32 AM on April 13, 2011


Oh, for chrissake. Whatever it is you are having a hard time getting over, get over it.
posted by languagehat at 8:40 AM on April 13, 2011


See? That's what I'm on about.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:50 AM on April 13, 2011


Are we done here, yet?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:09 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are we done here, yet?

Not until I get around to my uncalled-for and irredeemably obnoxious zinger: Aren't you tired of 'awesome'?

*commencing self-flagellation*
posted by Sys Rq at 12:30 PM on April 13, 2011


no u
posted by Burhanistan at 12:32 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


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