Too Many

Thinking of too many dead Black men and too many American cities in crisis, the words of Baltimore Orioles COO John Angelos ring true for me.

” … my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.”

I wonder, what is the media’s role in keeping this broader – and essential – narrative in the margins?

May we heal as one.

Jean

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The Trend

Guest Post by: Tessa Danielson

Women in leadership is a hot topic right now. I’ve seen it trend on Twitter, it’s been mentioned by many of my friends on Facebook, and there are plenty of articles about it circulating on LinkedIn. The current popularity of the topic is (without a doubt in my mind) in part due to the upcoming presidential election and the talk of multiple women being poised to run. For the first time I am seeing articles upon articles with the topic of women running for president. I’ve seen articles covering which women have spoken about running, who the author thinks should run, which women wouldn’t surprise them if they ran, and even articles about why a woman could be just as good a leader as a man. Wait….what?

I’m not talking about the satirical articles, I’m talking about the serious articles. I’m sure the authors had the best intentions in mind while writing these articles…but, really? I’m not sure if it’s more upsetting that 1) people feel the need to explain that women can be leaders or 2) people actually need to hear it. These women who have worked tirelessly to get where they are today, who have accomplished so much, and who have become public figures have to not only gain support for their policies but also have to convince the US that women can be leaders? Really, society? After years of civil rights battles and women’s suffrage, this is how far we’ve come? This disturbing reality begs the question: how can this be changed? It’s simple really: the environment needs to change.

DanielsonLet’s focus on ad agencies creative departments where the gender gap happens to be huge. Women leaders here are few and far between. It has been blamed on many factors but the gist of it is this: women are not staying long enough to become leaders. If the environment in which someone is working is hostile, unfriendly, and sexist, why would any woman stay? Maybe if 10, 30, or 50 more women stuck it out and became leaders it would enact change. But who can blame them for leaving? When an environment is unkind to change, it will also be unkind to those trying to change it.

Disappointingly, this seems to be fairly representative of society at large. Not for lack of trying or determination or qualifications, women get to a certain point and then are pushed out of the conversation or decide that their efforts are better used elsewhere. There is something to be said for “leaning in,” as Cheryl Sandberg puts it, but if the environment a woman in leaning into is sexist, the disadvantage faced may be too great to overcome alone.

Sheryl Sandberg has said, “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” Personally, I can’t wait for this day. But until then, I’m pretty sure that in this environment, if a woman can convince the majority of society that she can lead as well as a man, she can do anything.

Photos in Today’s World: A Change in Moral Authority as We Know It

Guest Post by: Katera Berent

We’ve reached a point in time where the phrase “pics or it didn’t happen” no longer rings true. A photo of something isn’t as trustworthy as it was thirty years ago. We edit every imperfection, change the highlights on lighting, change the curves on a woman and airbrush the muscles on a man.

The models within many ads are edited to almost unrecognizable extremes. The photo below was taken from this video, in which viewers can watch the transformation of a model happen. Is something like this considered photo manipulation? Where is the line drawn?

A

I personally don’t have a problem with slight edits to enhance the features in a photo. It’s been done since the dark room days, when people used techniques such as burning and dodging. Yet sometimes it is taken too far. The video above recreates an already beautiful model with a type of perfection that is seemingly unachievable without photo editing. There are serious ethical implications with this.

The first is that when photos are over-edited, it sets unrealistically high standards of beauty for girls and boys, women and men. Consumers begin to think that they must look like what they see in magazines, on billboards, on television—except the models don’t even look like that. Is it possible to combat these ridiculous ideals without shaming those who are in the ads?

Another ethical implication that comes with editing photos is an inherent skepticism of what is reality and what isn’t. When photos are published in news articles, it is assumed that the photo is an accurate representation of whatever was happening. In 2003 a Los Angeles Times reporter was fired after combining two images from the war in Iraq. Regardless of whether or not the photo was more aesthetically pleasing when combined, it depicted an entirely different story of what was going on.

B

Credibility relies on trust and truth. When photographers alter photos in such a massive way, it becomes active manipulation with the media is telling the public what to think. Media are supposed to be watchdogs, but if they’re allowing themselves to doctor photos to suit their needs, who is going to be a watchdog of the media?

It’s important to consume media responsibly and holistically. Without it, we lose ourselves and the world surrounding us.

Other(s) Desires

Guest Post by: Meghan Brady

It seems that anyone nowadays can be a “photographer.” Whether it is with a smart phone or with a thousand dollar DSLR camera, people are constantly taking pictures. At concerts, everyone has Snapchat open, adding each song to his or her “Snapchat Story.” At my friend’s birthday party on Saturday, as she was blowing out the candles on her cake, I looked up to see seven iPhones capturing the moment. She has been blowing out birthday candles for 21 years, so I promise it did not look very different.

AI often wonder why our culture is obsessed with documenting every moment. Why do we think that each time we go out to dinner, we need verification from other people through Instagram likes that we, in fact, are accepted by posting a picture of your expensive food? Engagements in this day in age seem to not even happen if a photographer hiding in the bushes doesn’t capture the moment. I forget what it feels like to go somewhere with a group of friends and not have group photos before we leave. A “selfie stick” was invented so we could stand on vast mountaintops, in front of beautiful safaris, or in front of the Indian Ocean and fill the frame with our faces instead of nature.

The negative implications are obvious: in our culture we seek attention from others within their social sphere, creating the need and desire for constant acceptance. It’s nearly impossible to escape the obsession. This addiction to social attention has seeped into our minds and has casted a skewed vision on our lives, one that consists of solely pleasing others. It is ruled by doing things and buying things for the sole purpose of making others feel good about you.

But there’s danger here. There is a lot, in fact. I fear a generation that simply acts on the desires of others—to fit in. Do people that fit in change the world? If we are all walking in sync to the same bad tempo, will we be aware enough to point out issues? Will this desire for social attention and acceptance seep into other areas of our lives—ones where we need discernment and criticism in order to move forward?

Now, maybe this seems like I am blowing this out of proportion. Maybe I am making assumptions. But maybe, just maybe, we are on the road to a society that simply cares about fitting in and being liked. Being liked by people we know, and by people we have never met before. I understand it is easy to criticize our generation for the way we have become. But I see a slippery slope that we are headed down as soon as we put our reputation before our values.