A number of message boards have been populated with discussions about the language of photo captions describing the New Orleans looting situation. Yahoo! News manager posted a recent disclaimer at the popular web site justifying the posting of two contrasting photo captions. One photo caption described: A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans."
Another described a white man and woman: two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding
bread and soda from a local grocery store..." The words looting Â" and finding Â" used to describe the individuals` action caused web users to accuse media of racial bias. The Yahoo! News explained that the first photo was submitted by Associated Press and the second by Agence France-Presse and captions accompanied the submissions. Later, AFP requested to stop the photo`s circulation through the media although the discussion about the caption controversy was already all over the Internet. The message boards and blog discussions have been centered on the issue of racial favoritism in the media coverage of hurricane Katrina`s aftermath.
AFP`s photographer explanation was that he truly believed that the white man found the food floating in the water, and this was the reason he described the photo that way. However, what the internet users are now questioning is whether or not survivors of such devastating event in desperate search for food and water should be described as looters regardless of being white or black.
Upset readers have been also voicing their concerns about the perpetuation of stereotypes about African-Americans with the lack of balance in the media coverage in the rush to deliver news about a crisis involving a predominant black and poor population. Internet blog users are calling for more racial sensibility from the media when reporting the outcome of those who are fighting for survival and those who died in such dreadful condition.
Note: The author of this article is no longer affiliated with theSOP