Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Investigating Journalism (not)

I have a weakness, the Yahoo front page with the slideshow type news clips. It's mostly tripe and I rarely follow the links, I just read headlines. However, sometimes there is something that makes me follow the link. Today it was this clip that caught me attention.
Startling makeup photo sparks buzz
A Reddit user gets mixed reviews after posting pictures of herself with and without makeup. What do you think?

I just had to know what what so special about this "Reddit user" and her makeup. There are tons of before-and-after photos online today and it had to be something out of the ordinary for Yahoo News to bring it up. Right?
Well... no.

First of all it's not a photo of the "Reddit user" Munner83 who posted the photo. Second, "mother of god" is a meme and it's often ridiculing the photo or the person in it. Lastly, the picture is clearly water marked with 9GAG.COM. That's an image based comedy website. They make fun of internet phenomena such as "Eoljjang" (also known as Ulzzang or Uljjang), young women competing online about having the "best face" . The photo it self is watermarked with a link to a Chinese site, but the trend originated in South Korea.

The Yahoo article also says this:
As one commentator wrote, "She's so brave for opening up like that. This video made me cry because I totally know what she's feeling. People who don't have acne don't know what it's like to have your self esteem basically plummet every time you look in the mirror. I just want to give her a big hug."

That comment was made about this YouTube video, not the meme photo of the Asian girl. It's very obvious if you bother to read it through.

How can a "journalist" (Eric Pfeiffer) on a news site fail to see all those clues? Or did he see them but decided that the truth is not worth mentioning? Is it right of a journalist to spread a (ridiculing) meme without explaining what it is and what is does? Does a person like this even have a place on a news site? Does it matter that Eric Pfeiffer posts this in a news blog (The Sideshow) and not on the front page of a news magazine?

Those are the questions that should be asked here. Not questions about the "mixed reviews" that the "Reddit user" got when posting the photo.

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