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So the photo captions that launched a thousand blog entries as well as Kanye West's now famous outburst are still being discussed.

AP Stands By Caption

The photos were indeed taken by two different photographers for two different agencies. As it turns out, the photographer who wrote "looting" saw the people in his photo going into the store, while the photographer who write "finding" saw the people in his photo grab things as they floated past. The photos were submitted, along with their captions, to Yahoo, which then put them both up without vetting the language.



new orleans | LA | USA | Posted: 6:10 PM on 08.31.05
->> Jeasus, I don't belive how much crap I'm getting from this. First of all, I hope you excuse me, but I'm completely at the end of my rope. You have no Idea how stressful this whole disaster is, espically since I have not seen my wife in 5 days, and my parents and grand parents HAVE LOST THIER HOMES. As of right now, we have almost NOTHING.

Please stop emailing me on this one.

I wrote the caption about the two people who 'found' the items. I believed in my opinion, that they did simply find them, and not 'looted' them in the definition of the word. The people were swimming in chest deep water, and there were other people in the water, both white and black. I looked for the best picture. there were a million items floating in the water - we were right near a grocery store that had 5+ feet of water in it. it had no doors. the water was moving, and the stuff was floating away. These people were not ducking into a store and busting down windows to get electronics. They picked up bread and cokes that were floating in the water. They would have floated away anyhow. I wouldn't have taken in, because I wouldn't eat anything that's been in that water. But I'm not homeless. (well, technically I am right now.)

I'm not trying to be politically correct. I'm don't care if you are white or black. I spent 4 hours on a boat in my parent's neighborhood shooting, and rescuing people, both black and white, dog and cat. I am a journalist, and a human being - and I see all as such. If you don't belive me, you can look on Getty today and see the images I shot of real looting today, and you will see white and black people, and they were DEFINATELY looting. And I put that in the caption.

Please, please don't argue symantics over this one. This is EXTREMELY serious, and I can't even begin to convey to those not here what it is like. Please, please, be more concerned on how this affects all of us (watch gas prices) and please, please help out if you can.

This is my home, I will hopefully always be here. I know that my friends in this business across the gulf south are going through the exact same thing - and I am with them, and will do whatever I can to help. But please, please don't email me any more about this caption issue.

And please, don't yell at me about spelling and grammar. Im eating my first real meal (a sandwich) right now in 3 days.

When this calms down, I will be more than willing to answer any questions, just ask.

Thank you all -
-Chris Graythen


Note how long ago that was posted--back on Wednesday the 31st. But few of the "big name" blogs who posted the captions and their pictures have updated the story with this additional info. Doesn't it change things--maybe not entirely, but significantly? In my mind there's a big difference between two individuals using different language to describe different people (looting versus finding) and one large news entity doing the same thing. I know it's still an issue--but the scope changes. Doesn't it? I don't think it's just semantics. (By the way, while the word is on the table, I think "semantics" has been given a bad rap. Now it's a word that people hurl around when they don't want to listen to you.)

This is the link to the entire discussion, which took place on a photography forum.

The following day, Yahoo removed the AFP photo at the agency's request. Here's a link to the Yahoo explanation. Yahoo's policy is to NOT tinker with captions (which is, I think, a good policy). So, anyway. It may not make a whit of difference to folks, but at least the information is a little more complete now.

Salon's take

flickr (with amendment)

Blah dee blah, sorry, but this is the kind of thing I find fascinating.