So we were gone over the holiday – an annual Labor Day camping trip on Catalina island with 8 other families and Littlest Guy. It was fun and beautiful as always, and TG got to meet the hunky Baywatch lifeguard (long, almost scary finally funny story).
So yesterday, I caught up on the weekend’s news.
The big deal, to me, was the AP’s decision to publish a photo of a dying Marine. The issue has been extensively blogged, but let me make two late comments and try to make a connection.
The first comment is simple; one thing that keeps falling through the cracks in this discussion is that the AP exists to make money, and so that it’s newspaper subscribers and owners can make money. AP is a coop owned and managed by major newspapers, but it’s annual revenues were over $740 million in 2008. It netted over $45 million in 2007.
News is a business, and while it’s business model is rapidly changing (to the detriment of organizations like AP), it’s important to remember that when you read the AP discussion on their decision to release the sensational photo of a mortally wounded Marine.
They made this decision as a business decision, just as the photographer who made it made taking it and submitting it a career decision. So let’s be clear that the conflict wasn’t just between sensitivity to soldiers and to the family of the dead man on one side and a ‘moral argument for telling the truth’ on the other; it was between doing the right thing and doing what was going to make the organization and the photographer money.
There’s a name for that…
The good guy in this appears to have been SecDef Gates, who personally called AP President Tom Curley and implored him not to publish the picture, and wrote a scathing message to the AP after they did. One can only hope that he’s matched words to action and that photographer Julie Jacobson is done embedding, and is back Stateside.
Here’s another glass raised to the demise of the legacy media as it exists today. I’ll point out that Pointer and the other media watchdogs think that this was just A-OK.
One of the issues I pointed out was the double standard journalists support in reporting kidnappings in Afghanistan.
This weekend, Stephen Farrell, another NY Times journalist was kidnapped. There was no coverage in the Times or other mainstream media, because – obviously, in journalism-world – the moral weight is on the side of saving the reporter in this case.
Happily, he was freed in a raid by British commandos – one of whom was killed, along with Sultan Munadi, the Timesman’s translator. I wonder if the reporter took pictures of his death…