Speculation and fear-mongering: a short comparison of American and Canadian breaking news coverage

I’ve been listening to some Australian news coverage (← Australia’s ABC News livestream) of the just-finished hostage situation in downtown Sydney, Australia, this morning and was reminded of Al Jazeera’s short comparison of American and Canadian television reporting (embedded above) in the wake of the Parliament Hill shootings in Ottawa, Canada, earlier this year. The video is an eye-opening look at how much speculation and fear-mongering figure into American breaking news coverage.

On this subject, take a look at On The Media’s Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook. Here’s one of the program’s segments on why they made the handbook, and it’s well worth a listen. The handbook always seem to be right when you look back at breaking news coverage. Here are my three favorites, all of which applied in this case: “News outlets will get it wrong,” “There’s almost never a second shooter,” and “Don’t trust anonymous sources.”

Keeping that handbook in mind, my two favorite places to read breaking news are MetaFilter and Reddit (beware of Reddit detectives, by the way). In today’s case, both offered up-to-the-minute links to news reports and press conferences as they happened, as well as rumors getting passed around and debunking or critical analysis of the rumors. Reddit, also, usually has comments from people very close to the incident. Here’s the most active Reddit post (Here’s a comment that had news before most anywhere else; On The Media’s handbook applies. Here’s a comment that had information quickly with better source attribution. Here’s a comment from someone who was locked into a nearby library during the hostage situation.), a Reddit Live post (better than the active post for a distilled look at information as it becomes available), and the MetaFilter post (comments there are always at a higher level than anywhere else on the web). From those two sources, you can always find links to live streams from local news, by the way.

My other favorite source for breaking news, the New York Times’s Lede Blog, has ceased operation. The Times still periodically does live coverage of breaking news, though, often aggregating links to other news coverage of the event in question. In this case, I couldn’t find live coverage at the Times, though they did link to the Sydney Morning Herald’s live updates.

Trailer released for Wim Wender’s documentary on SebastiĆ£o Salgado

A tantalizing morsel of Wim Wenders‘ and Juliano Salgado’s documentary on SebastiĆ£o Salgado, The Salt of the Earth (IMDB), has been released. The Guardian has a review and some information about the making of the film.

Sure, half of the video (above) isn’t in English, and the trailer makes the movie look like a hagiographic camera advertisement, but I’ll still be interested to watch when it comes out. When it does come out, there likely will be a host of critiques of Salgado’s work, as ever. Most of this critique hinges on the beautification and aestheticizing of suffering. The standard response is that the photographer must make photos worth looking at if they are to drive attention to particular issues. More troubling are issues of representation in Salgado’s work as it approaches the noble savage depiction of indigenous peoples. I don’t think Salgado’s work reaches Jimmy Nelson levels of colonialist/orientalist anthropology, but it’s there, especially in the most recent Genesis work. This Huffington Post review approaches the topic a bit, and here’s the first page of an academic paper(← PDF) looking at objectification in Salgado’s work. More troubling still is that the Genesis project was largely funded by the Vale mining company, one of the worst human rights violators in some of the regions that Salgado’s work depicts. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see Salgado at work in this film.

Wim Wenders seems to have a particular interest in documentary photography, by the way. If you remember, he delivered a particularly moving speech when James Nachtwey was award the third annual Dresden Peace Prize.

Behind the scenes with Matt Black as he photographs California’s Central Valley


Matt Black has been on my radar a lot recently, not least because of the recent New Yorker piece he did with Ed Kashi (below).

If you don’t know Matt Black’s work yet, you’re missing out. Luckily, the folks at PhotoWings recently caught up with the photographer and followed along as he worked in California’s Central Valley (above). Black talks about his process in covering the story over the years and what he hopes they say in the larger context of the ongoing story of drought and poverty in the area. It’s less than 10 minutes, but offers a telling glimpse of Black’s philosophy and passion not just for this story but for the storytelling power of photography.

If you like the New Yorker’s video featuring Black’s photography above, by the way, there’s supposed to be a nice 8-page spread in this week’s New Yorker. There’s just a single image online right now.

You should also spend some time with his ongoing project, the Geography of Poverty. The project’s Story Map, in particular, is a great way to navigate Black’s work and see how it all fits together.

And be sure to check out Ed Kashi’s first video on agriculture for the New Yorker, that time in partnership with fellow VII member Ashley Gilbertson.