In step with Virginia Woolf | book word

Source: In step with Virginia Woolf | book word


Who said this?

… a word is not a single and separate entity; it is part of other words. Indeed it is not a word until it is part of a sentence. Words belong to each other …

We heard the voice of Virginia Woolf in a BBC radio broadcast in 1937, and saw her handwriting projected onto the front curtain of the main stage at the Royal Opera House last Saturday. From the darkness emerged the still figure of Alessandra Ferri, recognisable as Virginia Woolf.. It was a thrilling opening to an amazing event. Woolf Works – Virginia Woolf in ballet.

Outside the ROH

and what I like is the connections Virginia Woolf makes between words, ballet steps and people. With a little adjustment you could substitute words, in these passages, for ballet and people.

… a word/ballet step/person is not a single and separate entity; it is part of other words/dance/community. Indeed it is not a word/ballet step/person until it is part of a sentence/ballet/community. Words/ballet steps/people belong to each other …

All this from a ballet? Well, yes!

Woolf Works

The full-length ballet by Wayne McGregor is described as a triptych and was drawn from three of Virginia Woolf’s novels: I now, I then (from Mrs Dalloway), Becomings (from Orlando) and Tuesday (from The Waves).

178 VW 3 novels

Wayne McGregor read Virginia Woolf and it inspired the desire to choreograph a full-length ballet without a strong narrative thread – a challenge to mainstream balletomanes. Wayne McGregor wanted to capture ‘the spirit of her writing’. I understand him to want the audience to have an experience not unlike reading Virginia Woolf’s novels.

How was it done?

As I’ve said, this was not a ballet with a narrative thread. Virginia Woolf herself was questioning ways in which to capture experiences and feelings in her novels, and experimenting with ways of writing about them. Wayne McGregor explains his ideas.

And I thought Woolf was perfect for my idea of making a full-length ballet without a narrative, because she herself doesn’t write conventional stories – they’re more like collages, where thoughts, emotions and sensations take precedence over plot. The audience will recognise certain characters. Alessandra Ferri, who is a wonderful dance actress, is obviously an older presence, and will convey the sense of Woolf within and alongside her work. You’ll see a dancer inhabit the body of an androgynous Orlando. They’ll be like hooks that allow the audience to go on a longer journey than with a purely abstract piece. (ROH magazine Jan 2015)

McGregor is known for his collaborative work. The choreography, the music and the design all brought together to create this ballet.

What was special?

Here are a few highlights, but in no order and this is not an attempt to capture the whole experience:

  • A male dancer in tweeds (from Mrs Dalloway).
  • Septimus’s angularity of body and movement, expressing acute psychological damage (also from Mrs Dalloway).
  • Alessandra Ferri, had a calm stillness about her, and combined with suppleness captured Virginia Woolf without caricature. And, by the way, she’s 52.
  • The fabulous gold costumes of Orlando, and the romp being enjoyed by the cast. You can view pictures of the production here.
  • The mounting tension (The Waves) accumulating through dance, sound and lighting towards the terrible conclusion of Virginia Woolf’s fate. Her suicide letter was read before this part. More words.
  • The cello.

He [Wayne McGregor] admits he had been completely unaware of how possessive some of those readers would be when he began work on the project. “I was really surprised by the number of people, some of them very passionate and expert, who approached me and told me exactly what they thought my piece should be like.” McGregor has put a careful distance between himself and the “Woolf industry”. (From Dances with Woolf by Judith Mackrell in The Guardian Review on Saturday 2nd May 2015.)

In some ways Virginia Woolf is so cerebral that I was surprised to be so moved, overcome with emotion, and differently moved in each of the three parts. Septimus’s sequence had me rigid in my seat, my hands and feet flexed. The whirl of dancers building to an exuberant climax in Orlando was stirring. I was steadily pulled towards the appalling and inevitable horror of the waves, waves of sound and dancers, towards death.

Words, English words, are full of echoes, memories, associations – naturally. They’ve been out and about, on people’s lips, in their houses, in the streets, in the fields, for so many centuries. And that is one of the chief difficulties in writing them today – they’re stored with other meanings, with other memories, and they have contracted so many famous marriages in the past. The splendid words ‘incarnadine’, for example – who can use that without remembering ‘multitudinous seas’? [Virginia Woolf in a BBC radio broadcast in 1937]


The Steamy Love Letters of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West (1925-1929) | Open Culture

Source: The Steamy Love Letters of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West (1925-1929) | Open Culture

woolf love letter

Everyone loves a love story—especially a love affair. We may think ourselves above a juicy scandal…, but who are we kidding? Tragically, however, for many famous people of the past—from Oscar Wilde to Alan Turing to Tab Hunter—affairs could not only end careers and reputations, they could end lives. People who would much rather not have to hide their love have been forced to do so by rigid social propriety, religious moralism, and repressive law.

In other famous cases, however—like that of Virginia Woolf and her friend and lover Vita Sackville-West—an affair doesn’t end in tragedy but simply in a cooling of passions into a beautiful, lasting friendship.

While prudish outsiders may have been scandalized, neither Woolf’s nor Sackville-West’s husband found the relationship shocking. Leonard Woolf, his wife reported, regarded the affair as “rather a bore… but not enough to worry him.” Vita and her aristocratic husband Harold Nicolson, writes the Virginia Woolf blog, “were both bisexual and… had an open marriage.” Furthermore, the bohemian artistic circle in which the Woolfs moved—the Bloomsbury group—hardly troubled itself about such mundane goings-on as a steamy affair between two married women. So much for social scandal and soap-operatic theatrics.

But while their love was not forbidden, what passion they had while it lasted! One need only read their letters to each other, collected in The Letters of Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf. Many of those epistles document the heated period between the mid-1920s, when their affair began, and 1929, when it ended on amiable terms (in a friendship the letters document until Woolf’s suicide in 1941).

“I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia,” writes Sackville-West in a 1926 letter to Woolf, “You have broken down my defences. And I really don’t resent it… Please forgive me for writing such a miserable letter.” The brief, agonized letter captures the exquisite pangs and pinions of romantic infatuation. Woolf, in response, is the more reserved, but also the more colorful, with playful, cryptic images that hint at who knows what:

“Always, always, always I try to say what I feel,” she writes, “I have missed you. I do miss you. I shall miss you. And if you don’t believe it, you’re a longeared owl and ass…. Open the top button of your jersey and you will see, nestling inside, a lively squirrel with the most inquisitive habits, but a dear creature all the same—”

In her diary, Woolf described Sackville-West on their first meeting in 1923 as “a pronounced sapphist…. Snob as I am, I trace her passions – 500 years back, & they become romantic to me, like old yellow wine.” Woolf was ten years older than Sackville-West, and seemed to feel inferior to her lover, comparing herself unfavorably in a sexy 1925 diary entry:

Vita shines in the grocers shop in Sevenoaks…pink glowing, grape clustered, pearl hung…There is her maturity and full-breastedness: her being so much in full sail on the high tides, where I am coasting down backwaters; her capacity I mean to take the floor in any company, to represent her country, to visit Chatsworth, to control silver, servants, chow dogs; her motherhood…her in short (what I have never been) a real woman.

The two had other lovers, and Woolf, “as the older woman in the relationship,” the Virginia Woolf blog writes, felt “unwanted and dowdy” as Sackville-West strayed. But though the love affair ended, it not only produced a close friendship, but a novel, Woolf’s Orlando, which Vita’s son Nigel called “the longest and most charming love letter in literature.”

Their love and friendship will also soon produce a film, Vita and Virginia, directed by Chanya Button and written by Dame Eileen Atkins. And, if you were wondering what Vita and Virginia’s passionate exchanges would sound like in a 21st century idiom, have a look at “The Collected Sexts of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West” at The New Yorker. The eloquence of an epistolary romance may be a thing of the past, but email and text have their own efficient charms:

Vita: Hey girl
Virginia: Hey
Vita: Sup?
Virginia: In bed
Vita: Hot
Virginia: Come visit?
Vita: Mmm can’t. Have a toothache.

Cute. But what could ever replace one of Woolf’s last letters to her friend and former lover, written in 1940 while Britain endured German air bombardments: “there you sit with the bombs falling around you. What can one say– except that I love you and I’ve got to live through this strange quiet evening thinking of you sitting there alone. Dearest—let me have a line…You have given me such happiness….”

vintage everyday: George Litwin, four years old carrying the sign ‘I don’t want to be a war orphan’ during the Detroit Mother’s Day peace parade, May 16th 1940

Source: vintage everyday: George Litwin, four years old carrying the sign ‘I don’t want to be a war orphan’ during the Detroit Mother’s Day peace parade, May 16th 1940


Women in Photography: a Story Still Being Written

International Women’s Day is a reminder to stop and consider the roles women occupy in our lives, to celebrate the advances and mark afresh the needs for continued change. As a woman and Tuts+ Photo & Video instructor, I want to stop and consider the role women occupy in photography. How have women made a life in photography, and how are they continuing to make it happen in photography?


Women have been an active part of photography since its inception. While not credited with the invention of photography, women have played significant roles working alongside the pioneers, often printing for their husbands, and taking photographs themselves. Joseph Niépce, the inventor of photography, talked through his experiments in letters to his sister-in-law. Constance Talbot (1811-1880), the wife of photography pioneer Henry Fox Talbot, and Anna Atkins (1799-1871), an English botanist and friend of the Talbots, were the first female photographers. They were taking photographs alongside Talbot and his peers as they developed and advanced the earliest photographic methods.

Constance Talbot circa 1842



Queen Victoria was a champion of the photographic arts. In addition to granting her patronage to what became The Royal Photographic Society, Queen Victoria started the practice of putting visiting cards in albums. As the practice caught on among aristocratic women, photograph albums became a show of status, spreading the demand for and appreciation of photographic culture. By the 1880s, Kodak had recognized the increasing participation of women in photography and launched a marketing campaign with the Kodak Girl. About the same time, women photographers and journalists began actively advancing photography as a suitable profession for women. In 1897, the Ladies’ Home Journal published an article “What a Woman Can Do with a Camera.”

Anna Atkins 1861


British and American censuses show that by 1900, there were more than 7000 professional women photographers. Women made up almost 20 percent of the profession at a time when it was unusual for women to even have a profession. In fact, photography studios increased their business by offering “lady operators” to photograph women and families. Because there was the potential for physical contact when posing subjects, studios could attract more women and families for sittings if the photographs would be taken by a woman.

Women are shaping photography to suit their needs rather than trying to shoehorn themselves into a restrictive profession.
Photography as art, rather than just science, evolved partly as a result of gentlewomen pursuing photography as an artistic medium. Unconstrained by a need to earn an income, women such as Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) and Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952) could experiment and push photography into new realms both in the style of photographs taken and the nature of photographed subjects. Indeed, even the idea of image compositing was alive and thriving in the middle 1800s with women combining their drawing and cutting skills with photography to create photo collages.

But if women were so active in the early days of photography, what happened to tip photography into a decidedly male dominated profession?


It didn’t take long before photography became a primary means of recording conflict and current events. And as the science of photography advanced, equipment became lighter and processing became simpler, making it easier for photographers to be mobile. Photographers could be in the midst of events at home and on the battlefields. But conflicts of war, economy, and politics were still not places for women.

The Kodak Girl 1909

Some women fought tradition and were among the pioneer photojournalists. Gerda Taro (1910-1937), for example, worked alongside Robert Capa, photographing the Spanish Civil War. Taro was known for her intimate style of war photography, capturing the emotional context of situations. Her photographs revealed the personal and physical stress soldiers experienced. She was killed in action, photographing the front lines, in Spain in 1937.

Christina Broom (1862-1939) was another pioneering woman photojournalist. Broom was an adaptable press photographer, covering events in city and on battlefield, ranging from suffragette marches, coronations and funerals, to World War I. Like Taro, Broom was known for capturing the personalities in events. She has been especially noted for her candid and evocative photographs of World War I soldiers preparing to enter battle.

Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) is well-known for her photographs of migrants during the Great Depression. Lange exposed a number of social problems over her career, but it was her emotive photographs taken in the 1930s that helped to change the public perception of poverty in the United States.

Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971) was the first woman photojournalist widely known for her conflict photography. Much of Gerda Taro’s work was overshadowed by public favour for the man in the partnership. Bourke-White, however, worked alone, and with advances in women’s rights, even if few, to propel her. Bourke-White was allowed to travel with and photograph American troops during World War II. Later, she continued her conflict coverage by photographing the Korean war and India’s civil rights struggles under Ghandi.

These women made important contributions to the public’s perception of current events. They were exceptions in a field dominated by men.

Photojournalism is still a field dominated by men, but the numbers are changing. As more women become conflict photographers, our exposure to conflict stories broadens. Lynsey Addario (1973- ) and her female peers–Kate Brooks, Stacy Pearsall, Alixandra Fazzina, Amira Al-Sharif, and Rebecca Collard, just to name a few– cover conflict around the world, keeping pace with their male colleagues and often gaining access to stories unavailable to men. Women photojournalists have revealed the domestic struggles war inflicts on residents in the Middle East, exposed the capture and rape of women in Darfur and Congo, profiled the plight of HIV-positive women in Somalia, revealed the tragedy of child Afghan refugees fleeing the country for safety, laid bare the brutality of domestic violence in North America, and so much more.

The percentage of women photojournalists remains woefully and understandably low; about 20 percent of all photojournalists are women. Photojournalism, especially conflict photography, is a tough, physically and emotionally demanding job. But the women who are photographing current events are bringing us stories that we would not–and in many cases, could not–see but for the fact that the photographers are women.

Photography is Women’s Work

If you look at the numbers of women in photography without considering the context, the statistics are depressing. In 1983, about 20% of photographers were women. Today, about 20% of photojournalists are women and the gender balance across photographic professions in general is pretty well even. However, a 2012 report from the American Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the 50/50 split does not extend to pay. The National Endowment for the Arts estimates that the median income for women photographers in the United States is about half of that for men.

The picture looks a little different, though, if you begin to look at the stories around the statistics. Women are active in photography, are passionate about their activities, and, it seems, are enjoying the freedoms that accompany freelance photography. Women are shaping photography to suit their needs rather than trying to shoehorn themselves into a restrictive profession.

Clickin Moms is an online community of women photographers. Started in 2008 as an informal social opportunity for a small group of friends to talk photography, Clickin Moms has since become a community of over 16,000 “professional photographers, aspiring professionals, and women who are simply passionate about capturing the lives of their children.” Don’t be misled, though, into thinking this might be a coffee klatch. These women are committed to artistic growth and technical knowledge, but choose to pursue them as part of an online network of like-minded women.

“We are shifting expectations about what is required to be a photographer and showing that your value as a photographer is not about your status as a professional.”
Sarah Wilkerson, CEO, acknowledges that there are many places to learn and discuss photography, but women photographers typically find those forums to be male dominated, competitive, and threatening. The process is linear: gear first, then mastering the gear, going into business, and, finally, increasing prices. Typically, emphasis is placed on restricting the pool of those at the finish line. In Sarah’s experience, women photographers are looking for communities of photographers who support each other in doing it their own way. For some women photographers, this means going professional; for others, it means being able to beautifully photograph family events. For almost all women photographers, it means some combination of options, varied as circumstances and needs change.

When reading the online discussions, the common thread of flexibility quickly becomes evident: photography offers women an opportunity to pursue a profession they love while working from home and being near their children. While that is not the goal of every woman photographer, certainly photography offers that option to women seeking a balance between personal and professional lives. And thousands are pursuing it, judging by the success of Clickin Moms. No longer just an online forum, Clickin Moms offers seminars, workshops, and peer mentoring; a program targeted to establishing standards for photo professionals, a bimonthly print magazine, an annual photography conference for women, and an online retail store.

“The whole idea of dismissing women photographers because they’re ‘moms with cameras’ is offensive,” Sarah said. “We are not about great equipment and going into business; we foster a high skill level and permission to enjoy it.” As technology and access to the photography market has transformed over the last few decades, the opportunity for women to take on and shape the industry has grown. As Sarah says, “We are raising the bar and informing the public about what they should be paying for. We are shifting expectations about what is required to be a photographer and showing that your value as a photographer is not about your status as a professional.”


The retail sector is also showing signs of shifting expectations, responding to the increasing number of women in photography. Camera bags that once were limited to black, boxy, over-the-shoulder models–completely unsuited to the way women carry their equipment–are now available in colours and models specifically designed with a woman in mind. Bags are attractive, comfortable to carry, and adaptable to women’s evolving roles.

Camera straps are also now available in designs that are clearly made for women. Made from silk scarves, leather-backed embroidery, and decorated fabrics, women’s camera straps are both comfortable and beautiful. And it’s not just custom options made in fancy fabrics and brightly coloured leathers. BlackRapid, the manufacturer of the well-known fast access strap, redesigned their strap into a model specifically made for women.

Tripods have been getting lighter for some time, but not that long ago, manufacturers began releasing tripods accented with attractive colours. It might just be a general interest in improving the look of products, but I’m inclined to
think that the increasing number of women purchasing photography equipment is
influencing manufacturing design overall. Male photographers are taking note of this evolution with envy, prompting those manufacturing bags and straps for women to add attractive and comfortable designs for men to their retail lines.

The shift toward embracing women photographers is, unfortunately, not as evident in medium to small photography stores. Most retail staff in photography stores–all retail staff in many instances–are men. In my failed efforts to interview a retail buyer or manager for this article, I encountered a mix of disinterest and divisiveness. Tone-deaf responses, such as “Well, in my years in photography, I’ve not seen anything change. Equipment is equipment. It’s universal.” typified the perspective of the salesmen I talked to.

Talking to my peers, a number of women photographers quickly shared with me anecdotes of being passed over as customers in photography. Education and influence will eventually change this experience. Key companies are beginning to recognize the increasing number, and seriousness, of women in photography. For example, Canon is the exclusive sponsor of Clickin Moms’ blog. The trend is clear.

Women’s Places

If more women are purchasing photography equipment and if women photographers are successfully shaping the profession to suit their needs, where are they working?

Women photographers may not be well represented among photojournalists or high-end commercial photography, but they have cornered the market in maternity and newborn photography, a relatively new field that exists largely because of women photographers. Men have been painting pregnant women for centuries, but the paintings were religious (the pregnant Virgin), meant for gallery art (Vermeer’s “Woman Holding a Balance” or Picasso’s “Pregnant Woman”), or were painted as a testament to a family’s wealth and fertility (Jan van Eyck’s “Arnolfini Portrait”). But when Annie Leibovitz’s (1949- ) photograph of nude and pregnant Demi Moore appeared in 1991 on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, a new genre of photography was born. Pregnant women now have themselves photographed for themselves, and who better to photograph them than another woman?

Annie Leibovitz 2008

Other photoraphies in this history

Julia Margaret Cameron 1870

Julia Margaret Cameron, by Henry Herschel Hay Cameron, 1870 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Frances Benjamin Johnston 1896

Frances Benjamin Johnston, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1896 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Gerda Taro 1937

Gerda Taro, by Anonymous (, 1937 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Christina Broom 1910

Christina Broom, by Winifred Broom, taken prior to the funeral of King Edward VII, London, 1910, via Museum of London


Dorothea Lange 1936

Dorothea Lange, by Rondal Partridge Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information / Office of Emergency Management / Resettlement Administration, 1936 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Margaret Bourke-White 1946

Margaret Bourke-White, by Margaret Bourke-White, 1946 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Two couple dancing

Tansbar. Yva (Else Simon), circa 1930.





What the AP’s Collaboration With the Nazis Should Teach Us About Reporting the News – Tablet Magazine

Source: What the AP’s Collaboration With the Nazis Should Teach Us About Reporting the News – Tablet Magazine

Did the Associated Press, the venerable American agency that is one of the world’s biggest news providers, collaborate with the Nazis during World War II? A report and new counter-report on this subject offer a few striking lessons—not just for students of history but for anyone concerned with the way news coverage shapes our perception right now.

A paper last year by the German historian Harriet Scharnberg titled “The A and P of Propaganda” and published in Studies in Contemporary History makes the case that beginning in the mid-1930s, the AP’s photo office in Germany made compromise after compromise to keep reporting under Nazi rule, obeying successive orders from the Hitler regime until it ended up as a Nazi information arm in all but name. Remaining in Berlin after its competitors departed in 1935 allowed the AP to serve as a “key channel” for German propaganda, she wrote, an arrangement the New York-based agency was eager to preserve—even if it meant removing all of its Jewish photographers in keeping with Nazi race laws, for example, and even if it meant issuing a statement to the official SS magazine swearing that the photo bureau was pure Aryan.

In the Nazi years, according to Scharnberg, the AP was selling German images in the United States and selling images from the United States in Germany, allowing photographs of American Jews and others to be used in some of the vilest racial propaganda produced by the Nazi state. The AP was, for example, the “leading supplier” of images for a propaganda book called The Jews in the USA, and in third place among suppliers of photos for the book The Subhuman.

Eventually, Scharnberg claimed, the line between the AP’s German photo operation and the Nazi regime effectively ceased to exist—even as the Nazis pursued projects like the concentration camp at Dachau, which opened in 1933, and the “euthanasia” of disabled children, which began in the summer of 1939.

What did the AP decide to cover, and how? Well, the head of AP’s picture service in Berlin went on to be an official Nazi photo censor. If AP photos from the German advance into Poland and Russia offered an image of the war that didn’t show things like the organized murder of tens of thousands of Jews and others behind the lines by the Einsatzgruppen, it was perhaps because the photos were taken by people like Franz Roth—who was, we learn from Scharnberg’s report, simultaneously an “AP photographer, SS-Oberscharführer (senior squad leader) and photojournalist in the SS Propaganda Company (SS-PK).” In his SS role, Roth took propaganda images showing Soviet prisoners as ugly human specimens—and AP, in turn, “received exclusive rights to the propaganda photos,” which were published in newspapers in Atlanta and Los Angeles.

While claiming to be covering Germany, the historian argued, the AP photo operation was, in fact, engaged in an illusion of coverage crafted in partnership with the Nazi regime. Instead of reporting on the reality of life under the regime, the AP—blinded and hobbled by its accommodations and relationships—helped obscure what was actually happening inside Germany and the way the Nazis waged war. The impact at the time is hard to determine, Scharnberg writes: “Nevertheless, it is reasonable to assume that the intuitive sympathies and antipathies of American newspaper readers were not unaffected, at least in the short-term, by pictures that usually depicted the Germans as triumphant blitzkrieg fighters and their opponents as sullen, sly military failures.”

The historian’s report was damaging enough to warrant a fascinating and deeply researched counter-report from the AP on its wartime record, published last month. The factual findings of the AP’s own report do much to amplify Scharnberg’s indictment, and in the right hands could have been an admirable exercise in self-criticism. But the AP chose to present its findings with a defensive tone that suggests that while the news organization has unearthed a great deal of information, editors there remain confused about what it all means.

Yes, we learn, the AP cooperated with the purging of Jews when competitors like The New York Times refused to accept Nazi dictates and left—but it cooperated only after “resisting,” and it turned out to be for the Jews’ own good: “AP helped them resettle safely to other countries, which allowed all of them to survive the Holocaust that soon followed.” Yes, the AP’s photo office did cooperate on a propaganda project with Das Schwarz Korps, the official SS magazine—but we should know that AP executives were “distressed” by this.

Did the AP protest the use of its photos in propaganda that fueled genocide? “To date, no records have surfaced to suggest AP objected to such practices at the time,” the report admits. But—yes, this admission is actually followed by a “but”—we should be reassured that rules about handling such cases were changed in the 1960s. Had the AP protested at the time, the report explains, it could have lost access in Germany, and moreover: “Termination of the photo service going to German subscribers would also have cost AP some revenue.” (An American in charge of the photo operation in Germany, we learn, considered the SS magazine “a good customer.”)

After the war, the AP rehired one of its staffers who had joined the Waffen SS and employed him until he retired in 1978. Another character connected to the AP photo operation, Helmut Laux, who was also part of the SS, preferred never to discuss his wartime activities, according to his daughter. “During his whole life,” she tells us, “he was just interested in the future, not the past.” One wonders why.

The argument in the AP’s counter-report is that while mistakes were made here and there, the big decisions were right. Whatever the cost, the AP “concluded it had to remain to provide coverage for U.S. newspapers and the American public.”


The AP’s justification for its actions is what makes the dueling reports worthy of attention, and not just from historians. Or, to quote the AP’s old associate from the SS: What’s interesting about this affair is “the future, not the past.” The choice faced by the AP in the 1930s—leave with your integrity intact, or stay and collaborate in the name of access—didn’t end with WWII, and is hardly the sole concern of the AP. It’s a question that affects most news organizations operating today, and one that is almost always answered wrong.

Western news organizations that maintain a presence in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, for example, make compromises in return for access and almost never tell readers what those compromises are. The result, in many cases, is something worse than no coverage—it’s something that looks like coverage, but is actually misinformation, giving people the illusion that they know what’s going on instead of telling them outright that they’re getting information shaped by regimes trying to mislead them.

A good example came to light in 2014, seven decades after the moral confusion detailed in Scharnberg’s report, with the publication of a detailed exposé on the AP’s bureau in North Korea. It sounds familiar: The “bureau” in Pyongyang, wrote veteran journalist Nate Thayer, reporting for the specialist website, was not staffed by AP reporters from outside the country: The full-time staffers were North Koreans who were paid by AP but answered to the regime. A written agreement between the AP and the North Korean government allowed the AP to sell propaganda images, like those lovely choreographed rallies, outside the country, while the North Korean “staffers” studiously avoided subjects like mass starvation and prison camps. (The AP was unhappy with Thayer’s report and dismissed his claims, but it didn’t refute them.)

The most relevant example from my own experience as an AP correspondent in Jerusalem between 2006 and 2011 is Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, and where the AP has a sub-bureau. Running that sub-bureau requires both passive and active cooperation with Hamas. To give one example of many, during the Israel-Hamas war that erupted at the end of 2008, our local Palestinian reporter in Gaza informed the news desk in Jerusalem that Hamas fighters were dressed as civilians and were being counted as civilians in the death toll—a crucial detail. A few hours later, he called again and asked me to strike the detail from the story, which I did personally; someone had clearly spoken to him, and the implication was that he was at risk. (After I published this detail in an essay for Tablet in 2014, the bureau chief at the time confirmed it, adding that a refusal to comply would have put our reporter’s life in danger.)

From that moment on, more or less, AP’s coverage from Gaza became a quiet collaboration with Hamas. Certain rules were made clear to the local staffers in Gaza, and those of us outside Gaza were warned not to put our Gazan staff at risk. Our coverage shifted accordingly, though we never informed our readers. Hamas military actions were left vague or ignored, while the effects of Israeli actions were reported at length, giving the impression of wanton Israeli aggression, just as Hamas wanted.

When a reporter wrote a story about Hamas censorship in the summer of 2014, editors shelved it. We were trading truth for access and providing an illusion of “coverage” that was actually propaganda—a kind all the more effective because it was not tagged “propaganda” but simply “Gaza City (AP).” You can show genuine footage of a house destroyed by an Israeli strike, but if you don’t show the Hamas fighters launching a rocket from the backyard, your report is a lie.

The news industry’s answer to this kind of criticism tends to be that reporting part of the story is better than nothing, just as the AP argued that “it was critical for AP to remain in Germany and gather news and photos during this crucial period”—even if the “news and photos” in question were shaped by the Nazis, and actively used by them to achieve strategic aims. This decision was controversial even at the time. One of the most interesting parts of the AP’s own report quotes U.S. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, criticizing the AP’s work in Germany in 1941: “I sometimes wonder,” he wrote, “whether we would not be better off without dispatches from that country if the alternative is to be fed daily doses of arsenical propaganda.”

Yet some of the people making decisions about news haven’t changed their thinking since then, even though no one today questions the true nature of the Nazi regime or the gap between those AP photos and the ones we’ve now seen from places like Dachau and Auschwitz. “It is essential to cover tyrannical regimes and other undemocratic movements, when possible from within the borders they control, in order to accurately relay what is happening inside,” Executive Editor Sally Buzbee said in a statement accompanying the new AP report. “That is what we do, without compromising AP’s independence or standards.”

But in reality, if you’re inside the borders of a tyrannical regime, you can’t “accurately relay what is happening inside.” And once you’ve established a permanent presence inside, as all three examples discussed here show, your independence and standards are compromised by definition. To obscure that fact, news organizations end up further compromising themselves.

The report on WWII is an opportunity to look again at the automatic bias in favor of “access,” and to ask if things might not be done differently. In the case of Gaza, for example, is the right choice really to have staffers inside, when their reporting can be controlled by Hamas? Or would it be more productive for the AP and others news organizations to report from outside Gaza while working sources on the inside and making use of external players (Egyptian intelligence, Israeli intelligence, Palestinian reporters in the West Bank) to give a more accurate picture of events?

Or instead of paying for an illusory “bureau” in Pyongyang and getting in bed with Kim Jong-un, why not devote that money to hiring the most knowledgeable people in South Korea and developing information from dissidents, refugees, and spies, which, in expert hands—and there are plenty at the AP’s disposal—might actually be able to yield an approximation of the truth? While these solutions are far from perfect, they’re preferable from the standpoint of news-gathering. Credible information that is explicitly presented as incomplete is far better than a distorted picture presented as reality.

In 2017, consumers of news are beset as never before with a blizzard of disinformation. There is no alternative to mainstream news sources. No Twitter feed is going to replace The New York Times or the AP. And yet much information published in established sources is unreliable, sometimes for the reasons discussed here. Many flaws and misunderstandings have crept into journalistic practice over time, like the idea that it’s permissible to collaborate with dictatorships and obfuscate about it, or that telling half the story is better than leveling with readers and admitting that your hands are tied. This renders journalism vulnerable to the claim that there is no “fake news” because it’s all fake, anyway.

The people in charge at the AP were wrong in 1935. It matters today because they and their competitors are wrong now in similar ways. It’s a good time for journalists to think deeply about the ways the profession has failed—80 years ago, two years ago, last week—and about ways to better serve a world that badly needs us to do our job.


Cannes 2017: de Sofia Cappola a Robin Campillo – dezanove – notícias e cultura LGBT

Source: Cannes 2017: de Sofia Cappola a Robin Campillo – dezanove – notícias e

À septuagésima edição voltou a fazer-se história na Croissette: Sofia Coppola tornou-se a segunda mulher a vencer o prémio de realização no Festival de Cinema de Cannes. “120 Beats per Minute”, de Robin Campillo, foi outro dos grandes vencedores.

Paris, início dos anos 1990, sexo, drogas, rock ‘n’ roll e os homossexuais começam a morrer do então apelidado “cancro gay”. Depois dos EUA a epidemia da SIDA chega à Europa. Paris tem um dos focos mais graves da infecção pelo VIH. É este o epicentro de “120 Beats per Minute” (2017), do realizador marroquino Robin Campillo. “120 BPM”, como é já designado, chegou a ser apontado como o grande favorito da edição deste ano de Cannes. Levou para casa o Grande Prémio, atribuído pelo júri presidido por Pedro Almodóvar, e a Queer Palm para a Melhor Longa-Metragem com conteúdo LGBTI.cultura LGBT

Cate Blanchett for refugees

Some people don’t like. They think they are terrorists

Cate Blanchett Daily

As the new goodwill ambassador of UNHCR, Cate has had a great interview on live last week on Facebook, where she discussed ehr work for refugees, shared her thoughts, and how not, showed her great sense of humor! Watch the interview here:

Plus Cate took part in a great video for refugees among other artists from around the world, watch here:

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