One small step for authenticity?

This is a picture of President Obama announcing his troop withdrawal strategy from Afghanistan last night.

obama_jun_22.jpg

This is a picture of President Obama when he announced that Osama bin Laden was dead.

obama_may_2.jpg

Other than the dates and circumstances, what’s the difference between the two? The bottom image was staged. The White House had a policy of no pictures during presidential speeches, presumably because of the noise they make.

It wasn’t exactly a scandal — other presidents had the same policy — but it set some journalistic tongues wagging. The Poynter Institute, for example, called for an end to the practice.


It is time for this kind of re-enactment to end. The White House should value truth and authenticity. The technology clearly exists to document important moments without interrupting them. Photojournalists and their employers should insist on and press for access to document these historic moments.

And so, last night we got truth and authenticity from White House photographers, which looked pretty much exactly like the the staged variety.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Ever since photographic images have primarily consisted of manipulable 0s and 1s, it’s all kinda moot.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob- and by “authenticity”, are you referring to the visual representation of the event, or alluding to the character of the human subject? :-)

  • tboom

    With me the difference is always immediately obvious:

    Is the president wearing a blue tie, a red tie or a striped variant (or red and blue striped)? Of course if it’s March 17, the tie will be green.