The magazine was published in July 2010 The economist published a cover showing Barack Obama dejected and dejected with his arms around his waist on a Louisiana beach after an oil spill from the company BP, whose oil structure could be seen in the background. There was a problem – a serious problem if we consider the reliability of The economist—: The photo did not exist. Obama wasn’t dejected or staring at the ground in thought, but in the original picture he had some notes in front of him that Charlotte Randolph, a local politician, showed him. Beside the two, separated, was Coast Guard Thad W. Allen. And behind them, taking pictures, is Larry Downing from Reuters agency. The agency sent the original photo and The economist he cut off Allen and eliminated Randolph directly; Editing the photo gave it a new meaning. Reuters condemned the manipulation; The economist she defended, “We edited out Randolph so readers would focus on Obama, not because we wanted him to appear in isolation. It’s not misleading.” But it was prompting: Obama seemed devastated by the environmental disaster, and maybe he was, but at that moment he was listening to a woman removed from the photo explain.
Quickly copied by the media and viralized on networks, the image that the Efe agency circulated this Tuesday of Pedro Sánchez gazing at his arms crossed in front of a landscape engulfed in flames in Casas de Miravete (Cáceres) is the image of a President of the government, which, when visiting the area hit by the fires, appears to be posing with a devastated country in the background, at least that’s what the image suggests. Between the “seems to be” and the “is” there is a world that must be traversed with great delicacy, just as between the “implies” and the “says”, and that is the fault of the image: that it is this way formulating it comes at the expense of interpretations it otherwise would not have. It is not a manipulated photo, and it is also broadcast with a series of images confirming that Sánchez is indeed listening to regional president Guillermo Fernández Vara. But the photo isolates itself from the rest, just as the photographer isolates Sánchez from his companions, and the result is ideal for fomenting a hoax: the Spanish President went into a disaster zone to look good on the front pages. The framing allows for a meaning it would not have if Sánchez were to appear as he really is: arms folded and a politician listening.
There is no editorial intention in Efe as was the case in the photo by Javier Bauluz, The indifference of the West, which sparked a lengthy discussion between the photographer and Arcadi Espada (the image showing in a certain frame intrepid bathers while the body of an immigrant rested in the sand). The editorialism in the Efe photo is desperately sought by others. Like a gesture by Cuca Gamarra that turns her into a mad woman in Congress for a bad tenth of a second, or a look from Felipe VI. on Pedro Sánchez, barbaric conclusions are drawn. We are usually – when not posing – not the second that the photographer freezes us, although it is often his job to capture the gesture and give it a meaning related to the present. Nor can we (when writing, when speaking, when we have a camera in front of us) prevent someone from fragmenting our actions, speaking or writing in such a way that no one can use a few seconds to imply what we have not written or said or make it seem that in one way or another—a yawn, a smile, a hateful look—we find ourselves in the most shocking of circumstances.
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