« Random Excellence: Marcin Ryczek | Main | Open Mike: Sleep, Baby »

Saturday, 09 March 2013


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

There is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the US...


That misquotation is appalling … and either unintentional (which is bad journalism) or intentional (which is reprehensible).

Now that, is global warming!

Nice catch. As ever, small changes with big impact. Perhaps it was ever so, but now the simplicity of spreading information, and the traditional trust of media outlets, are perhaps leading is down a path of easier manipulation.

Unfortunately, true craftsmanship seems to disappearing from America and perhaps other countries as well.

The evening news, in many instances, has become an assault on our language and crucial parts of the story are often omitted.

There are still those striving for excellence and we should appreciate them even more!

And people say that Television is a medium for the education of the masses. Clearly not.

So.....are you recommending this? Or not?

Well done, Mike.

What passes as "journalism" on network television and radio in the 2000's and beyond is nothing more than propaganda. Our corporate media is just next generation Pravda.

All major media outlets are owned by big corporations, and big corporations are owned by those invested in America's current state of income inequality, corporate meddling in elections, perpetual war and all of its other tumors.

"Journalists" like Brian Williams are so enamored with their own celebrity and their "access" to politicians that they are simply mouthpieces for current storyline their overlords would like us to swallow.

Paulo Pellgrin school of journalism?

Say, Mike, you've been out of school for a while, haven't you? You obviously haven't heard that in J-school these days, students are told they can replace any one of the "Five W's" with "oh Well."

Seriously, it's been a bad few days for the mainstream media. This week we were told that Bradley Manning, the man who eventually brought "Collateral Murder" to the world's attention, was initially shunned by the Washington Post and the New York Times. A generation ago, these same newspapers took the Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg and ran with it.

But Rome did not fall in a day. We had plenty of warning signs with Judith Miller and Jayson Blair. And yet the NYT is still the fancy pants' fish wrap of choice. Oh well.

Freedom of the press belongs to those who have one.

Quality of the press is a whole other thing....

I am sorry to say that the misquote is not at all surprising to me. Sort of seems about what I would expect and relatively minor to some press/interview experiences I had, or saw around 25 years ago.

As I wrote earlier about journalism, the big difference now is that people have an opportunity to call the press out. We never could fully believe what we heard on the news, and I doubt that suddenly these here young reporters ain't as trustworthy as they were back in the old days when we had real reporters.

Of course, I am sure NBC and Dotson, if they ever had to respond, would claim this is all much ado about nothing. Here, nothing has changed. We stand by our story. (Until there is no other choice.)

By the way, you know that the negatives for "Migrant Mother" and all of the FSA photographers pictures that they made while employees of the U.S. are U.S. Gum'mint property and live at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. For a modest fee, they will print you a copy of your very own. I've got one and feel like it is my own piece of American history.


Yes, one wrong turn deserves another! :) Lange practiced "artistic" license with her initial edit of the shot :


and now Dotson adds an "artistic" flower to sustain the beauty of Florence, which she clearly doesn't need, the beauty! in the 'look of her eyes' hasn't changed !

For 'the rest of the story' :



Well, since we're on the subject,

"the article/book also rewords the quotes…"

should be written:

"the article/book also rewords the quotations…".

'Quotes' is a verb, in that she was quoted. What she said is a quotation. Yes, informal usage often misses the distinction, but I'm a big fan of opportunistic pedantry.

["People have been using the noun quote as a truncation of quotation for over 100 years, and its use in less formal contexts is widespread today. Language critics have objected to this usage, however, as unduly journalistic or breezy. As such, it is best avoided in more formal situations. The Usage Panel, at least, shows more tolerance for the word as the informality of the situation increases."

That's from the "Usage Note" under the definition of "Quote" in the American Heritage English Dictionary's eReference 2.

So while I take your point and thank you for making it, I'll probably live with it. --Mike]

My absolute favorite book about Lange is Daring to Look...definitely worth a few hours if you are interested in her work. The price has dropped since I bought it...for those of you who pick it up, enjoy!


I watch the government-owned, and therefore people-owned, ABC news down here in Australia.

Now, I know what a lot people will immediately think: it's going to be nothing more than a mouthpiece spewing propaganda for whomever is in power. That's not how it works; many times have the ABC and the government clashed. There's no ads, or private interests, either.

What ends up happening is that everyone keeps their respective boots so far up the ABC's...er, rear exit, because we all have a stake in it.

And that's how it should work for all news outlets, public or private. But, of course, we allow corporate news structures to have a free pass, because business, and if it works for them, we shouldn't get angry if we don't like it. It's a business, and we should be grateful they're doing so well at it, even if the effects upon us are negative. Long as it sells.

And that's the origin of this misquote. Someone thought, well, that'll get more people interested, and it's ok, because selling more books is good. Ends justify the means.

Journalism is a dying field; what's replacing it is the murkier field of "media".

Oh wait, it gets even more complicated.
I sort of remember this from grad school

Florence Thompson was a widow , but she was not married to the father of her child in the picture. She was Cherokee ( grand daughter of Ned Christie according to her grandson! ) http://www.weedpatchcamp.com/Migrant%20Mother/MMother.htm
but Roy Striker didn't want pictures of Native Americans. The father of the children is identified as a native Californian by Lang because Californians were freaking out about Oklahomans , the undesirable migrants of the day, but the (dead) father was from Mississippi.

Plus there is confusion about whether she had sold her tires , or sold her tent, or according to another interview , cooked dinner. http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30s/movies/thompson_water_06.html

a good article here

Oh, and to keep this all up to date with the photoshop era, Doreatha Lang retouched a thumb out of the photo !


Back to the present or at least 1983-1986 , the writer seems to be simultaneously in Florence Thompson's kitchen interviewing her and at the reunion in the park that she declined to attend where a photographer is quoted

“Move in a little closer,” said the photographer. He slipped a black plate into the back of his camera, as relatives ten rows deep wedged themselves between swing sets and seesaws.

How did he get that quote ? I'll leave nitpicking about "black plates" in rollfilm cameras to the same nuts who freak out about writers confusing ammunition clips and magazines.

If you want to go further down this rabbit hole, here is a good place to start


Perfectly summed up is Joe Santa's contribution from the Corbis blog:

"Today, in the age of digital tomfoolery, we can only hope for truth in media. But we only know what they’re willing to share.

Makes you wonder what else is in the garbage."

With regards to 'when is a "quote" not',,,not an authority of the statement " betwixt " : http://thesunmagazine.org/about/announcements/2013/52

Journalism meets Photoshop ( re quote altering).

Changing what was said is dishonest, reprehensible and should result in the firing of the writer from any job he may have that involves the written word.

A misquote is one thing, adding 'facts' is lying and is deliberately done.

Seems to me your respondents are on the whole letting the "journalist" off too easy. The mangled quotes are an offense to honest journalism. Even worse (in my opinion) is the offense done to Lange's photo by Sanna Dunnaway in "colorizing" the image.

Dear James,

Not to worry. I thoroughly roasted the historical colorizations back in October:


pax / Ctein

When I read about a journalist and artistic license, I'm reminded of a quote attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright: "I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters."

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007