Thursday, June 17, 2010

OUTSIDE ethics and good taste

Every few weeks my two passions crisscross, photography and cycling, usually that means a wonderful cycling image created by me or something I've trip over on the web. This time the image hits at the ethical heart of my photographic passion and disgusts the heart of me as a cyclist.

Outside Magazine's new cover is of cycling's most divisive rider, an aging Lance Armstrong. For most cycling fans it's hate the guy vs love the guy, the camps are pretty clear. But lie about the guy?

The Tour champ stares out at you from the cover of the latest issue of Outside magazine in a blue shirt that says "38. BFD." in blatantly bold letters. 38 equals Armstrong's age in this year's Tour, and the acronym is "Big F---ing Deal."

As the cover explains in small - very small - text, the garment is "not Armstrong's real T-shirt," and the cyclist is, well, pissed off. On Twitter, he wrote that the text was Photoshopped into the image and called the stunt
"lame bullshit."

As an older cyclist I'm just a little pissed, but can easily chalk this up to editorial stupidity. Will assume
Editor: Christopher Keyes was on holiday when is staff's sophomoric humor escaped its playpen.

As a photographer - and journalist - this deeply angers me. I have written multiple times about the covenant we have with the viewer, break that covenant - LIE - and you destroy the very ethical heart of that trust. A relationship that is key, one Outside would understand explicitly. So next month when they decide to have an oil soaked pelican on their cover - do we now trust that they haven't "added a bit more oil" just to make things look their version of a bit worse in the Gulf?

I would go beyond "bullshit" - this is a LIE - period. And Photography Editor: Amy Feitelberg should be fired, or if she was overruled by Art Director: John McCauley and/or Creative Director: Hannah McCaughey then Ms. Feitelberg should have quit her BFJ.

More of my photo thoughts over on my Small Planet Perambulation blog

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