Freedom to photograph

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

That's my kind of freedom
Picture: CreativeCommons.org

No one denies that it is important to discuss whether or not a college degree is worth all the money thrown in to it. In today's economy, times are hard, and people appreciate seeing some serious coverage over the issue to help them decide.

People don't seem to enjoy it when college students dress like, well, college students. The Kalamazoo Gazette learned this the hard way after running a front page photo of a woman speaking with a college employee. She was dressed normally, in a t-shirt and jeans, and the shoulder bag crossing her body partially covered up the words 'Kiss My Ass' on the front of her shirt. Partially, but people still noticed.

One reader wrote in to say that the photo "distracts from the integrity of the article". Joyce Pines, Kalamazoo Gazette public editor, noted to Jim Romenesko at Poynter.org that "this vulgarity is so commonly used in speech, online and in print nowadays that it pales in comparison to some of the more notable swear words....Perhaps the best that can be said for the whole situation is that all of us should stop and think about the images we’re projecting".

Are the readers right to be protesting? After all, it is the public newspaper. The phrase is not the most professional thing that should be said to consumers, and after it came out, it was made abundantly clear that readers did not appreciate this kind of language. However, what about the young woman? Doesn't she have the right to wear what she wants in public?

When protesters gather to demand change of the status quo, the majority of Americans will say that they have the right to their free speech, whether or not it is cluttered up with unseemly vocabulary. The Kalamazoo Gazette printed that photograph not because of what the shirt said, but because of what the photo contributed to their news story. It is unfortunate that the shirt slogan took away attention from the real issue at hand.

3 comments:

Ben Rodgers October 4, 2011 at 9:53 PM  

The girl has the right to wear whatever shit she wants to in public. The media however probably should have gone with a different picture. Even though at term like "kiss my ass" is not uncommon to see today it would have been more professional to run another picture.

RCastenson October 4, 2011 at 10:52 PM  

I think there should be a respect issue to discuss instead. That girl should not have been wearing 'Kiss my ass' because it is not "socially acceptable" and my guess is the majority of people do not want to see that. I'm sure she has fifty other pants she could have worn as well. Overall, I think she should have thought of the reactions she was going to get by the public and who her pants couple affend.

kelleygray October 5, 2011 at 12:00 PM  

While the paper has every right to publish this article, it doesn't mean that they should. It comes down to being tasteful, and most people do not want to see profanity on the front page of their local newspaper. I assume that other pictures could have had the same effect as the one used and would have been a little more tasteful.

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