Monday, October 20, 2014


Duck and Cover
“It’s a disappointment to me. I’m pissed off and embarrassed and completely weirded out that a journalism institution that should be seeking out facts and details is basically pandering to hysteria. . . . 

The most disappointing part of this bad decision is the disservice to the fine journalism students at Syracuse’s Newhouse School. What a missed opportunity to teach future media professionals how to seek out accurate hard facts; backed up with full details about the Ebola crisis. I guess it is easier to pull the hysteria and xenophobia cards.

—Michel du Cille, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, “Syracuse University disinvites Washington Post photographer because he was in Liberia 3 weeks ago,” Washington Post, Oct. 17, 2014 Image: Michel du Cille from his September Liberia trip/Washington Post

Editorial Comment: Another teachable moment.

PeezPix by Ted Pease 

Rock Pile

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Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California.
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1 comment:

  1. I get it and I don't get it.

    If this information is so critically important, then why the three-week delay in sharing it? Surely Syracuse has video conferencing capability and surely Mr. du Chille could have transmitted his material electronically without fear of contagion.

    I get the university's responsibility not to cause a panic, whether founded or unfounded, that might affect more than just the conference attendees. No doubt their insurance company and their lawyers expressed liability concerns over allowing someone who didn't just visit a country where the disease exists but who actually visited clinics and burial sites and who just -- just -- completed the recommended quarantine time. We know less than we think we do about too many things not to be cautious.

    What I don't get is why these two photos were chosen to accompany this article. Both are pictures of children -- no doubt to play on our sympathies, suggesting perhaps that children are somehow more innocent victims than adults. Both are somewhat passive images. Without a caption, the first picture could be of a child doing nothing more than resting. She wears clean clothes and sandals, and she does not appear to be in obvious distress. While thin by American standards, she does not appear emaciated. The stone bed, covered with a mat, on which she lies could be explained culturally – not everyone in the world sleeps on raised beds with mattresses.

    The second image, we are told, is of the body of a 12-year-old boy being buried “without ceremony.” What isn’t stated in the caption, and what is left for the reader to infer from the size of the graves – plural, is that this is not the only body being buried. How many other bodies already were in the graves? How many were waiting to be carried to the graves? How many bodies can each grave hold? How many other graves are in the same area? To really put this information into the balanced perspective Mr. du Chille claims is critical, we need these figures.

    Additionally, the two workers are wearing full protective gear, but the person in the background is not. Why? What will prevent the bodies from being dug up by animals and infecting them?

    Yes, we need the information and we need to keep a balanced perspective. Mr. du Chille should either be more patient with people’s fibriophobia – not necessarily xenophobia – or he should release the information now.