Eyeing A1

A look at newspaper front pages from around the country

Archive for the ‘Signified’ Category

Looking at race on the front page

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After last week’s discussion in class, I wanted to find a newspaper front page that directly dealt with race.

I found the sub-headline aptly titled for the piece “Conflicting portrait.”

To give more meaning to that headline, The Star Ledger incorporates two photos of the black man. The first is a small headshot, but he looks angry and the photo itself actually looks darker. When looking at the newspaper it’s actually the first photo you see because many people tend to read top to bottom and left to right.

It’s interesting to note on the paper’s website, only the mug shot appears, which the reporter writes: “If a picture says a thousand words, the mug shot police released said “guilty” a thousand times.”

The man pictured in the newspaper is Lee Evans. He was arrested in March on five counts of murder in the disappearance of five teenagers 32 years ago. The article paints a portrait of Evans where is seen as a good person by his friends and family, but neighborhood folks have a much different view of him.

The lede of the story is nearly as important as the photos and the headline.

Here are the first two paragraphs:

Two pictures, one man. One continuing mystery.

Lee Evans was one of two cousins charged in March with five counts of murder in the disappearance of five city teenagers 32 years ago. Police said he was a menacing 6-foot-4, 225-pound street thug known as “Big Man” who kept a dark secret for three decades through intimidation of accomplices and witnesses. If a picture says a thousand words, the mug shot police released said “guilty” a thousand times.

By this point, he already sounds guilty. In fact, the reporter is using the image to make an argument.  Not facts or stories, but an image of the man to make a quick case. By writing these things at the very beginning of an article, the reporter is telling the viewer how to see the photo. There is not much left to intepretation.

Our brains already begin to move in one direction once we learn the headshot is actually a mugshot. That, of course, has a negative connotation associated with it.

This is a tough story because you’re dealing with a case of where is being charged with murder. Obviously, something happened where five teens are missing, but instead of writing about the boys who went missing 32 years ago, this newspaper paints a portrait of a man where they are initially negative.

Only toward the bottom of the article does it state there is no physical evidence against him and that there is only person witness.

The article ends with this:

This is not to say Evans is innocent. In Hampton’s story, only eight people would know for certain what happened on Aug. 20, 1978, and six of them are dead. That leaves Hampton and Evans.

If the police have more on him, they’re not saying. And that leaves two pictures, one man, one continuing mystery.

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Written by Susan Lulgjuraj

April 14, 2010 at 10:37 pm

What does this woman do for a living?

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This was the front page of Philadelphia Daily New on January 29, 2010. When you look at this, there are probably a number of different things doing through your mind all of which probably lead to sex.

It’s obviously a ploy to get people to look at the paper. And it likely worked.You have a woman who is partially clothed and glistening.

The message being received, however, has nothing to do what is actually going on. This woman has nothing to do with anything that is being portrayed on this cover.

This is Allison Baver, a olympic speed skater from Reading, Penn., which is what the Philadelphia Daily News care about her.

Around the same time this article came out, Lindsay Vonn appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated and drew the criticism of many who thought the front cover was too sexualized.

I guess they didn’t see this cover because this had more implications than anything Vonn did. Baver looks as though she belongs on the cover of Sports Illustrated rather than the Philadelphia Daily News.

Not even the alphabetic text can help this photo. This is a photo that completely takes over every voice. No matter what is written, there is only one thing people are thinking about. That is a huge problem in women who play sports. They are sensationalized for their sexiness and appearances rather than their ability.

Ten years down the line, anyone who looks at this cover isn’t going to think about a woman who competed in the Olympics. They are just going to see boobs – as people are just seeing now anyway.

By the way, here’s the entire cover:

Written by Susan Lulgjuraj

March 30, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Mrs. Doubtfire will kill you

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It takes about an hour for me to get home from class every week. I like to rehash what happened and perhaps think of the upcoming project. This week, I only had one thought as I drove home, “I can make anyone think whatever I want.”

We watched several mashed up movie trailers, which made horror movies seem like romantic comedies and a popular trilogy turn into a story about homosexual love. Each one of these trailers was convincing, and if you never saw the movie prior, would completely believe the implications of the trailer.

This leads into our next project where we are going to take the Super Bowl commercials and archival footage from the 50s, 60s and 70s to create a point about gender, race or anything within society.

Initially, I thought I would do the video on how sexist the commercials were. I remember watching the Super Bowl with my agape rather than laughing at was supposed to be funny commercials. The one commercial that was supposed to be controversial – the Tim Tebow pro-life ad – was one of the least offensive commercials that aired during the Super Bowl.

But what happens if I move away from that thought. What if I make a video that invites people to think that women ARE evil. There’s a reason men, apparently, feel emasculated in 2010.

After all, if you can make it seem Doc Brown and Marty McFly are in love with each other, I can make anyone else believe anything I want.

Written by Susan Lulgjuraj

March 29, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Essay on the photo essay

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There are portions of Atlantic City that aren’t seen by visitors or even those that live there. Apart from the casinos, it’s a not a town anyone would go visit. There’s corruption in the government and crime on the streets. There are also people who live under the Boardwalk and call it home. I focused most of my photo set on this.

Almost every photo has alphabetic text that I incorporated with it. These weren’t captions but supplements to the photos to help make the message clearer.

If we look at the pure image of many of the photos, there is too much left to interpretation by the receiver. So what if there is a guy smoking a cigarette on a street corner or a closed supermarket? To get the reader to look deeper and see the message I want them to see, I added alphabetic text (in certain colors and fonts), different tones and captions.

Take the pictures of the two homeless men. There are two sentences in each photo. One describes who this man was before he found his way onto the streets. The other is how outsiders view him.

The ‘homeless’ stamp is in big, Hollywood-type font and bright colors because it is the initial reaction people have when they see them. The other sentence is smaller because it usually takes people looking harder and deeper to get to the truth.

It was important to highlight what I wanted people to look in each photo. The alphabetic text is arguably more important than the photo itself. I wanted people to see how they immediately label situations and how the subjects often time view the situation.

In Visual Culture: A Reader, Roland Barthes says, “We are still a civilization of writing, writing and speech continuing to be full terms of the informational structure (p. 38).” The captions accompany the alphabetic text in the photos to explain to the reader what the signifieds are in the image and to avoid everything else in the photo.

The very first image in the set has alphabetic text that evokes a different meaning of the pure image. The connotation signifies a warm, cozy place to live, somewhere a person feels comfortable and where they are always welcome. However, the picture – which purposely is hued in sepia tones to convey sadness – is of a place under the Atlantic City Boardwalk. To most of us, this is not a home. The text is to show the dichotomy between the thought of the saying and what is actually pictured.

The last photo perhaps was the most striking and had the least work done to it. I didn’t write the alphabetic text. They are handwritten names of dead homeless people. However, it was important to make it this last photo. I showed how some of the homeless lived leading up to this photo, but there is an end to all of them, and often to early. The homeless community is tighter than many realize and the people we walk past daily have names and have people who care about them. I put the photo last because I wanted their life to be shared first before we find out how it all ends.

The pictory was also mocked up.

This was the original photo taken of the Atlantic City beach.

raw Pictory photo

It was a cold, cloudy day and doesn’t evoke a feeling of happiness, summer and wanting to splash in the blue water. I changed the hues of the picture to make the photo more vibrant and have the colors really stand out. Bright colors evoke a feeling of happiness and joy, but one has to wonder why the beach is empty on what looks like a summer day.

A place that was once happy and probably full of kids running and laughing is empty, but there are people nearby. The homeless living under the Boardwalk with probably the best view of the ocean.

Here’s a link to the entire set and Pictory.

Written by Susan Lulgjuraj

March 25, 2010 at 11:00 am