Racist undertones of Paper photos


Thanks to social media and the Internet, by now most people are familiar with Kim Kardashians “Break the Internet” movement and photos from her cover and spread in Paper magazine.

While some people are either laughing at the photos and creating mocking memes or accusing the magazine of using Photoshop, there is a deeper underlying issue regarding the overall concept of the shoot.

imageAs confirmed by the editorial director of the magazine, renowned French photographer Jean-Paul Goude’s shoot with Kardashian was aimed at recreating his own work.

Jean-Paul Goode wanted to recreate his famous 1976 ”Champagne Incident” photo from a book entitled: “Jungle Fever,” which originally featured nude black model, Carolina Beaumont.

His original 1976 “Champagne Incident” photo was said to evoke the image of Saartjie Baartman.

imageSaartjie “Sarah” Baartman was a black South African woman brought to London in the 19th century and displayed for her large buttocks.

Baartman was the most famous of at least two Khoikhoi women who were exhibited as freak show attractions in 19th-century Europe.

Jean-Paul Goude has a long history of using women of color in outrageous, over-sexualized and sometimes animalistic depictions for his pictures. Some people find that his shoot with Kim continues in that long tradition of blatantly flirting with racism.

The editorial director of Paper magazine has commented to confirm Photoshop rumors, but he still will not comment on the race issue allegations of the spread.

‘Nightcrawler’ focuses on local TV news


In the new film “Nightcrawler,” Jake Gyllenhaal plays a freelance videographer journalist who lives by the motto: “It bleeds, it leads.”

The filmmakers, Dan and Tony Gilroy, have said in interviews that their purpose behind making this movie was not simply to entertain, but rather to force people to consider and acknowledge what news media has become in the digital age.

Dan Gilroy was critical about local news.

“(Local news) is all about selling the statistically disproved narrative that urban crime is creeping into the suburbs. To spread fear and grab viewers. They package it all like news, but it comes out as a narrative to spread fear,” he stated.

Gilroy also stressed the idea that filmmakers, just like journalists, serve as a bridge between true news and the public. As this bridge, journalists must evaluate every piece of information that is presented to them and judge it based on validity and urgency before releasing it to public knowledge.

“The facility and ease with which these images are now coming at us, we have to decide on a minute-by-minute basis what we let in and what we don’t,” Gilroy said. “The viewers are the users of the images that get shown on TV. We are part of that system; whatever is being fed to us, and we consume it like fast food, keeps coming because we seem to demand it.”

Although many people may agree with this assumption about news media, it is also important to acknowledge the audience of the film and recognize their motivations for watching it in the first place.

Since this particular movie contains a lot of violence, one could that the graphic content is what draws viewers, and not the exposure of news media and journalism truths. This fact will also be important to considers when reviewing the reasons for the successes and/or failures of the movie.

Movie Pilot’s Lisa Carol Fremont argues: “We are a society weaned on and fattened up by rubbernecking journalism and worse than that, we are complicit in it. Lou (Gyllenhaal’s character) is just another cog in this giant machine that seems to celebrate real life violence, heartache and human ugliness.”

Fremont agrees with the notion that “Nightcrawler” as a film isn’t so much a reflection of the news industry as it is on the audience and its escalating taste for thrill and violence.

Media focus on college athlete, porn star


On Wednesday, Notre Dame freshman football player Justin Brent was spotted at the Knicks preseason game with his date, well-known porn star Lisa Ann. Brent, a wide receiver for his school,s football team, later posted an Instagram picture on the two in bed together.

Immediately, the story was all over the news: from sports publications to gossip magazines to hard news outlets.

Some gossip-fueled news outlets like TMZ were quick to jump to conclusions and judgment about the fact that not only is the woman a porn star, but she’s also a 42-year-old dating an 18-year-old athlete.

However, this story was also covered by what some might call more credible news outlets, such as the Huffington Post. In the article published by the Huffington Post, the writer is careful to not share any personal opinions on the matter. Instead, the article consisted mostly of the Instagram pictures in question, as well as quotes taken directly from Lisa Ann’s Twitter feed showing her reaction to the ordeal.

This goes to show that even the most trivial of news stories, like who’s dating who, can instantly spark media attention from all types of news outlets. However, there is a big difference in the ways that these news outlets portray these types of stories.

In addition to falling in the popular college football category, this story in particular also involved many common controversies, such as age difference in relationships, the male / female double-standard and respectability of occupations in the adult film industry.

Adrian Peterson back in spotlight


On Wednesday, Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson had a court appearance at Montgomery County, Texas, courthouse for his arraignment following his recent child abuse case. Peterson is out on $15,000 bond since he was indicted last month of child abuse for spanking his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch.

Before getting a urinalysis drug test, he allegedly admitted to the employee administering the test that he “smoked a little weed” while on bond, therefore violating the terms of his bond. The district attorney’s office wrote: “In light of this statement, and the fact that it was made during the urinalysis testing process, and the term ‘weed’ is a common slang term for marijuana, the state argues that the defendant has smoked marijuana while on bond.”

Adrian Peterson has been in the spotlight for weeks now and not in a positive way. His child abuse case involving his son sparked a swarm of media attention and scrutiny. This scandal has gone the same way in just two days.

On ESPN’s Mike and Mike, two completely different perspectives on the situation are expressed. Mike Golic argued that it was just a stupid decision made by Peterson. He talks about how everyone always wants to tie these stupid decisions to bigger issues and reasons, such as serious addictions or frequent concussions.

Mike Greenberg argued that Peterson has probably been getting away with smoking weed, among other things, for most of his life as a star football player. Mike says that because of this early pattern, lots of athletes, Peterson includes, adopted the mindset that the rules don’t apply to them.

9/11 Memorial fire coverage varies


A fire at the Flight 93 National Memorial destroyed three buildings on Friday.

It was really interesting to see how different news outlets handled this event. On most news Web sites, including AOL and Fox, the journalists tried to focus on the positive aspects of the situation. They mentioned that the visitor center and memorial, which are under construction, are two miles away and were untouched by the fire and that nobody was injured.

They also made sure to mention that although about 10 percent of the memorial’s archival collection was there, many objects were in fireproof cases. I think this is a good approach because the memory of 9/11 is still so fragile to many readers.

However, I found it troubling that some of the stories were very vague about what was missing. For example, the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to the memorial last month, has still not been found. There were numerous quotes stating that officials can’t access the storage area until it is cleared by fire officials. The manner in which some of these stories were written was somewhat questionable because it gives readers false hope that they might uncover the medal and other memorabilia.

Groundhog Day incident haunts mayor


On Thursday night a story came out about the death of Charlotte, the groundhog at Staten Island Zoo. This particular groundhog is the same one that New York City mayor Bill de Blasio dropped in February of this year at a Groundhog Day event.

Even though this accident with the mayor happened seven months ago, many news source were blatantly suggesting that the groundhog’s death was a direct result of her injury following the mayor’s mistake. These stories also seemed to take the incident very seriously, which at times seemed ironic since it involves the death of a rodent, not a human.

Other stories worked to dismiss this claim by quoting a spokesman for the zoo as saying, “It appears unlikely that the animal’s death is related to the events on Groundhog Day.”

Although this story may seem like a very minor incident among major news events, it is a perfect example of the dangers of drawing unwarranted conclusions.

As journalists, it’s important to never assign blame to anyone involved in a story and to not insinuate any causes or connections that we do not know to be true. It is up to the journalist to present all relevant and accurate information to the audience in an unbiased manor.

CNN strives for neutral in Scotland vote


One of the biggest stories in world news this week is the Scottish independence referendum results. In the months leading up to the vote, many news sources were covering the politicians speeches and polling public opinion.

imageI’ve been watching a lot of CNN’s coverage of the story, and I’ve noticed that there is an obvious effort to stay neutral.

For example, there was an open mic video that consisted of clips of Scottish voters expressing their views on the referendum and freedom from the UK. Although it was not blatantly alternating between yes and no voters, the video made sure to have an equal amount of people both opposed and supportive of the referendum.

The BBC focused more on how an independent Scotland might influence the economy. Much of the coverage focused on fluctuating share prices and volatility in the weeks leading up to the vote. The coverage also stressed the uncertainty of which currency an independent Scotland would adopt.

By attempting to foresee the possible economic changes that an independent Scotland would bring about, the BBC’s coverage of the story tended to focus on predictions and polling to see where the public stands. Finally, the referendum did not pass, with a slight majority of “no” votes.

49ers’ case tests new NFL policy


San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald has been arrested on felony domestic violence charges following an incident at his 30th birthday party late on the night of Aug, 31.

McDonald allegedly assaulted his 10-week pregnant fiancé, leaving bruises on her neck and arms.

This incident occurred just three days after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell modified The league’s personal conduct policy. The new policy carries a six-game suspension without pay for first-time domestic violence offenses and a life-time ban from the NFL for second offenses.

The policy also states that length of suspensions may be increased in the following cases: if the employee was involved in a prior incident before joining the NFL; violence involving a weapon; choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman; or in the presence of a child.

If found guilty, McDonald could face even harsher punishments since his victim was pregnant. He is due in court Sept. 15. This is just one of several scandals in the NFL right now, as the Ray Rice video recently surfaced and star running back Adrian Peterson is  accused of child abuse in Texas.