One thing I still look forward to every morning is the front page of the Philadelphia Daily News. The cover when schools chief Arlene Ackerman took her $905,000 buyout and left was just precious – showing her in a shower of falling bills.
The covers are all great examples of the creative use of photos and text to punch up a story and make a point. In every case, the mock-ups were outrageous enough to make it clear to anybody looking that they were made-up, which is why Ackerman’s carping about the chainsaw gag made her look small and humorless.
Last Friday, though, the paper should have thought twice about the photo-shopped cover it ran with the fine story by Chris Brennan on City Council candidate David Oh exaggerating his military record.
It was clear from the story and subsequent coverage that Oh never achieved the status of a special forces officer, a Green Beret in the Army. And a critical question was to what extent Oh had presented himself as a former Green Beret.
Oh’s defense was that he’d correctly said he was a 2nd Lt. in the Army and was assigned to a special forces unit. Did he lie, or just plant the idea that he was a green beret?
The Daily News cover showed a smiling David Oh with a green beret on his head, and a reasonable reader might think it was a David Oh campaign photo, making his misrepresentation that much more bold and deliberate.
If you looked carefully, you’d see the words “photo illustration” in tiny letters sideways at the right edge of the cover. That’s not good enough.
The difference between the David Oh and the Arlene Ackerman covers is that the green beret shot is too close to reality, and thus easily mistaken for the real thing.
I worked at the Daily News for 20 years and loved that it was a tabloid that took the truth and its mission seriously. They should be more careful next time.
For the hurricane weekend, enjoy this performance of the Muppet theme from the indy-rock band Ok Go’s new album. I picked it up on the Capitol Ideas blog of John Micek, who says with the video, the band has “now moved past merely ironic and into some meta-post-structuralist-existential-ironic-hipster-constructivist-cool…Erm … or something.”