Monday, January 11, 2010

What's In a Picture? Apparently NOT Mr. Hero to "0"!

Gilbert Arenas, known by his jersey number "0" seems to have gone from hero to a REAL zero, and then (at least temporarily) non-existent. Arenas, after apparently breaking the law by not only possessing handguns in Washington DC, but, if some reports are to be believed, brandishing them, is, according to NBA Commissioner David Stern, "...not currently fit to take the court...", then while it would stand to reason that the NBA wouldn't want the bad publicity, why would Getty Images - take down the images? Getty's "editorial policy" (here) states, in part, "...Images illustrate and reflect the events of our world today and therefore have a responsibility to be delivered to the customer with accuracy and impartiality." If this, which is an obvious follow-on to the censoring of the images from the NBA brawl (more here where Getty Images surprisingly had no images to show of the brawl), doesn't demonstrate that Getty Images is, in many ways, NOT an impartial wire service, then I don't know what would. Getty co-mingles images from their commercial clients, and those that are truly editorial/independant, with seeming reckless abandon. Getty Images is a commercial conduit in almost all manner of speaking. Try calling the AP, Reuters, or AFP, and getting them to take down a photograph "because it makes us look bad". Wouldn't happen. The only way I've ever seen a true wire-service photo taken down was when it was demonstrated that the distribution of the photo was in violation of someone elses copyright (as with JonBenet Ramsey, here) or if the photo was manipulated, as with the Reuters "picture kill" (here).

(Continued after the Jump)

The New York Times (here) raises questions about this relationship, and rightly so. I have no problem with Getty being a conduit, but I do have a problem when their content is held out as independently as AP/Reuters/AFP/UPI/Bloomberg. In many cases, it's not.

As an aside, the image of Arenas (as seen in the NYT piece) seems to be a large part of what is responsible for Stern's suspension of Arenas, putting in jeopardy a $111,000,000 contract. Per game suspended, Arenas will lose $147,000 - that's a lot of money to lose over being a tough guy, seemingly full of himself but clearly not man enough to be able to defend his gambling positions with his own force alone, relying on the cowardly weapons that street thugs do. Yet, it is the power of a single photograph, capturing a few seconds of an interaction, that likely filled his cement shoes and sent Arenas packing.

Thus, the power of a photograph.

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