Saturday, May 05, 2007

A horse is a horse, of course?

It's Derby Weekend, and as I was reading my paper's preview section on the big race, something dawned on me.

How do you tell which horse is Circular Quay and which is Zanjero?

Hard Spun from Stormello?

Cowtown Cat from Scat Daddy?

It is a photo editor's potential e-mail nightmare.

That wasn't Street Sense in that picture! It was Any Given Saturday you idiot! You guys know nothing about horses and I am thinking about canceling my subscription.

Ah, yes. The age-old threat.

I'm trusting that our paper relied on wire services like the AP and Getty Images to get those IDs right. We all know that if a newspaper misidentified a photo Barbaro all hell would break loose.

But is that crime as aggregious as the crime of misidentifying actual people? In an e-mail to Poynter's Jim Romenesko a couple of months back, you'll remember that e-mailer David Mills was annoyed that even well-known African-Americans were misidentified in photo captions. Said Mills, "Ever notice how black people are often misidentified in newspaper and magazine photo captions? I mean famous black people. It’s a weird phenomenon.

"...In last month's James Brown tribute issue of Rolling Stone, there's a photo on page 48 with this caption: "Brown with Sharpton in 1974.” Alas, the man seated next to J.B. isn’t the Rev. Al Sharpton; it’s trombonist Fred Wesley. (Sharpton pointed this out to listeners of his syndicated radio talk show, saying "it ain't me," according to Richard Prince’s blog.) Forget how widely exposed Rev. Al’s face is. Fred Wesley is one of the great musicians, arrangers and bandleaders in funk and soul music going back 35 years. The editors of Rolling Stone should know what he looks like."

Mills didn't say what several non-media types who are black, would: "Yo, we don't all look alike."

But do all horses do look alike, and by virtue of that statement I am equestrice, not prejudice.

Media critics have used the frequent mistakes to push for more people of color to be hired on the copy and photo desks in newspapers and magazines. I mean, you don't want to be the mag that misidentifies Harold Ford Jr. for Obama.

Not a good look.

And in the horse-world, mistaking one horse for another is probably just as bad.

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Posted by Darren Sands at 1:43 PM | link

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Darren, thanks for the mention. Ever since that e-mail to Romenesko, I've been cataloging the phenomenon of Misidentified Black People on my blog.

It happens to athletes most of all... male athletes and female athletes, college athletes and pro athletes and even retired athletes. Check these out:

The caption said it was Louisiana State University defensive back LaRon Landry. Actually, the photo was of his teammate Dwayne Bowe. (Chicago Tribune, April 24)

The caption said it was former tennis pro Zina Garrison. Actually, it was former tennis pro Lori McNeil. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 23)

The caption said it was LSU quarterback LaMarcus Russell. Actually, it was his teammate Craig Davis. (Washington Post, April 20)

The caption said it was ex-NFL star Willie Brown. Actually, it was ex-NFL star James Harris. (Associated Press, April 12)

The caption said it was ex-NBA player Latrell Sprewell. Actually, it was ex-NBA player Rick Brunson. (Hartford Courant, April 1)

The caption said it was University of Arkansas basketball player Sonny Weems. Actually, it was his teammate Patrick Beverley. (Associated Press, March 9)

The caption said it was ex-NBA player Terry Catledge. Actually, it was NBA player Keyon Dooling. (Daytona Beach News-Journal, February 27)

The caption said it was DePaul University basketball player Marcus Heard. Actually, it was his teammate Wilson Chandler. (Chicago Tribune, February 20)

The caption said it was ex-NBA player Kevin Gamble. Actually, it was his ex-teammate Dee Brown. (Chicago Tribune, February 10)

Why does this keep happening? I haven't figured that out. But if the Ten 95 crew comes across any Misidentified Black People, I'd appreciate hearing about it. Collecting these things is my new favorite hobby.

Posted by Blogger Undercover Black Man @ 6:59 PM, May 05, 2007 #

So not only did the paper mislabel him, but they don't know his name. It's JaMarcus. He's a buddy of mine.

But when think about that, I wonder if black people think all white people look alike.

Posted by Blogger Vdizzle @ 2:18 PM, May 09, 2007 #
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