Of Cops and Cats
So yesterday's post on the kitten-petting riot cop in Oakland exploded in a way that I certainly didn't expect—we got links from sites like The Huffington Post, Boing Boing, Wonkette, The Daily What, Yahoo News, and countless tweets. But most importantly, the Post responded to the outpouring with an explanation from photo editor Carol McKaye for why they chose that image:
When I was looking at the Tuesday wire service photographs from the Oakland City Hall grounds, the violent protest images were not in the mix because that confrontation had not yet occurred. The late-night, violent protest was in response to the Tuesday eviction by the Oakland police.
Even though the story, written later in the evening, included information about the arrests and tear gas, no news images had moved by our production deadline, probably because Oakland is on Pacific time–a three-hour difference.
The photograph was chosen because it was a visual "moment" in time showing a police officer doing something interesting–not just walking through tents and trash. The wire service images that moved overnight and this morning offer a much different look at last night's protest.
Credit should go to the Post for acknowledging the criticism and engaging it in a transparent way. But I'm not moved by McKaye's explanation. I understand deadlines, but considering that they actually had copy that indicated there was violence happening, the larger context should have been considered in picking the photo—or maybe, as Jason Linkins wrote, there shouldn't have been a image at all.