A newspaper and a pot of tea

I’ve been busy coding newspapers tonight. For those of you that are just joining us, I’m working on two little media monitoring projects one for the Global Media Monitoring Project and a group project about news photography.

For lack of anything better to say today and because a certain someone asked me ages ago to write more about what I do in school I’m going to tell you about what I’ve been finding today.

Well, for starters there aren’t any women in the newspaper. Studies over the past 20 years have found that they make up about 20% of the total people mentioned and discussed in the news. I’m looking at photographs and there seems to be less than that in what I’ve gotten through so far.

None of the photos of women National Post’s B section had a background. Regardless of what the story is about they’re obviously red carpet glamour shots that have had their backgrounds removed so that they can wrap the text around them. The weirdest example of this is Nelly Furtado’s disembodied head that floats in the white space of the page and creeps me out.

They’re more a design element than anything. They’re not really illustrating anything. They’re just there to look sexy.

Men get nice boxy photos with context where they look like they’re doing something. These photos tend to be bigger too. I can already see our group sitting around a table laughing our heads off as we try to outdo eachother’s snarky remarks.

The thing that’s been causing me the most problems tonight has been a series of pictures of Lech Walesa getting run over by a Segway because it’s kind of random and doesn’t fit well into any of our categories.

In fact, it had a really long caption that I thought I’d read twice, but I’d obviously missed a huge chunk of it because of crappy typsetting. The line lengths were way, way too long for anyone to be expected to actually retain any of the information from it.

It was a series of five photos and here I was thinking grargh I have to code five of these. Part way through though I had to stop and look closer to figure out what the hell was happening and then redo all the work I had just done.

So there you go. A few important messages to take from this. Women are marginalized in the media. Poor typesetting is annoying. Segways are dangerous because they run over populist leaders.

* I’m quite aware of the fact that while I’m complaining about someone else’s typesetting that the kearning on this blog is screwy and it annoys me to no end. I haven’t gotten around to fixing it yet. I will eventually.

Leave a Reply