Friday, September 02, 2005

Stalking the Elusive Looter with Gun and Camera 

Many bloggers (Atrios and Steve Gilliard, among others) noticed a striking contrast between the caption on an AFP news photo of two light-skinned residents dragging supplies through the flooded streets of New Orleans --
Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans, Louisiana.
-- and the caption on an AP news photo of a dark-skinned fellow doing the same:
A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Flood waters continue to rise in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage when it made landfall on Monday.
Gilliard immediately consulted his Chicago Manual of Style and found, on page 73, the rule governing acceptable diction in such cases: "Niggers steal, whites find."

Our revered colleague Avedon Carol notes that Yahoo! has posted a kinda-semi-apologetic statement about the "differences in language," explaining that their policy is to present the photos and captions "as written, edited and distributed by the news services, with no additional editing at Yahoo! News." Fine; we buy that. The thing we find intriguing is that, since the controversy erupted, Agence France-Presse has asked other news services to remove the photo of the two light-skinned people from its databases. AP, on the other hand, has made no such request. We can only assume they're confident that they got it right the first time.

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