Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Awful Daily News Homeless Article/Pictures

My computer has been on the fritz, which has kept me from writing in a timely manner. But, even though it is now a day old, I need to say something about the awful DN article on the homeless. Or, really, an article about why homeless people smell.

First of all, generally the DN treats a really serious problem like a stupid joke, as Ben and Ray pointed out. And, while I am not as inclined to believe this was part of a grand scheme, I think this was brutish, stupid, cruel and insensitive from the paper that bills itself as from the people.

Basically, what I want to talk about are those stupid goddamned pictures.

For those who didn't see them, in the "Stinkmeister Column," Dan Geringer, dressed in a full scale gas mask, goes looking for really smelly things. Yeah, it seems childish and silly, but this is the DN.

So, what does he find to pose for a picture with? A homeless man. So, basically, Geringer snuck up behind a sleeping homeless man, put on his gas mask, and snapped a picture of himself behind the sleeping homeless man. And, to be very honest, although I know it is nothing similar, the image the picture quickly evoked in my head? Private Lyndie England, posing in front of her "friends" at Abu Gharaib.

Basically, what you have is a paper and a reporter, each of whom has done a lot of good work in the past, thinking it is great news to use a homeless man, someone who is at best in very dire straits, and at worst, severely mentally ill, as a goddamn prop for his gotcha picture.

I guess what really, really gets to me is that it is the sense that this homeless man is pretty much subhuman. The picture that is right next to it, has Geringer with his next "find," a steaming pile of trash. So, the symbolism of these two 'awful' things, a pile of trash, and a homeless man, really infuriates the living hell out of me.

Put it like this, what if Geringer took off the gas mask, and instead posed as he snuck up behind the homeless guy and took a big whiff. What about a picture of Geringer standing behind the sleeping man, with his nose pinched?

Some days, I don't feel particularly articulate, and this is one of them, so I am not really explaining my anger well. But Christ, what the hell was the process like for taking the picture? Did they drive around and say, "Oooooh, there is a smellly one! And he is sleeping! Perfect! He will never know!"

Put it like this: What if instead, we had a columnist who was doing a story about kids failing standardized tests. Would it be cool to sneak up behind a few children, grab of a couple of text books, and pose with a big smirk, and unwittingly take and publish their picture as a symbol of failure. Sorry, kids, you suck!!! How about doing a column about foreclosures, and sneaking up behind a family who just lost their home, and posing behind them with the deed to their home? Nice pic!

The problem is that when journalists try and insert themselves into the news, and try and make news, you get cruel shit like this. And, although I am not voicing it well, the pictures make me incredibly angry at what the DN did, and incredibly sad that this is the path it may be going down.


At 10:09 AM, Blogger AnneUrevick said...

This article is too compassionate and intelligent. You will never get a job at the Philadelpia Daily News.


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