Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Any Photo Will Do: Readers Won't Notice

The story is all about toxic FEMA trailers: formaldehyde used in the interior glue may be responsible for asthma and other breathing problems in children who lived in them. The story was filed from Bay St. Louis, Miss. The news page needs art. So the child pictured is one of those who might be affected, right? Wrong.

Charlotte Sun page designers found this picture of a cute kid, playing in a children's park near an apartment complex in Pass Christian, Miss. The child is not named in the story; he does not live in the town where the reporter filed the story; he is not identified as ever having lived in a FEMA trailer. But page designers decided he'd be the perfect illustration for the toxic trailer story.


Joe Gallimore, the Sun's resident pugilist, now gives fitness advice in his business column: in order to promote a local Ju-Jitsu academy, Gallimore said, "Lose weight, get stronger! Kickboxing will give you twice the benefit of any other aerobic exercise because you are making contact." Can you give readers a source for this assertion, Joe?


  1. I don't think the blame goes on the page designers as much as it would go on the people who edited the piece to go in the paper. The photo probably does goes with the story, but the story was more than likely cut down to fit the open spot on the page. There's a good chance that the mention of the boy in the photo was part of that cut.

  2. The child pictured is not mentioned in the uncut story. The people who edited the piece, as you describe them, seem to have been simply not alert to the content they were handling.

  3. For someone who says that facts are important, I am noticing many comments and criticisms made by the Old Word Wolf that seem to be made without a thorough check.

    If you go to:

    you will see that the young man is mentioned in the uncut story and did indeed go with the story.

    Your comment to the poster here that the child is not mentioned in the uncut story was provided to us as if you had real knowlege of whether it was or not. You presented it as fact when it clearly is not.

    Shame on you, Old Word Wolf. Your motives are becoming clearer with your reckless handling of the truth!

    Will you post this or do only anti-Sun comments get your approval?

  4. I'm happy to set the record straight. Every version of the AP story that I could find on the Internet ended with the pediatrician's comments, or sooner. Thanks for locating a fuller version!

    Instead of leaving it at the factual record, your attack on me, personally, begs the question: What exactly do you see are my "motives?" I'm not sure your hiding behind the cloak of anonymity adds any credibility to your point of view on this matter of my "motives," but I ask, just to set the record straight. Are you a reporter whose work has been criticized? Your motives need also to be aired.

    BTW, I did respond to a question similar to this last month.

  5. the anonymous posters miss the point entirely. if you're going to use that photo, cut the story so that mention of the child makes it in. if you can't/won't do that, then use the cutline to make the link. better yet, do both.

    whether or not the child is mentioned in the uncut story is utterly irrelevant to the point of this blog. sun readers won't see the uncut story; they'll see the one that made it onto the page. and that version has no connection to that photo whatsoever.

    i fail to see how OWW's comments constitute "reckless handling of the truth," especially in light of some of what the sun lets pass through to its printed pages.

  6. Madam Wolf, Remember reading that those who can't do, criticize. Would it be more productive, ,since you are so journalistically savvy, that instead of hanging out in a hammock writing critiques that you start your own newspaper. If you really want a great newspaper, start one.