I work for a newspaper. Not like a real newspaper or anything, just a small special interest (law) rag with a small circulation. It’s a small company and, as such, I wear a lot of hats around the place. One hat is the tri-cornered Colonial style hat of the feature’s editor. Another is the cheap, plastic mesh hat of the layout monkey. Today, those two hats collided (not to worry, it happens a lot).
While checking through my email this morning, I discovered that a military-oriented press service had sent me two different stories. And when I say stories, I mean pictures with absurdly long captions. One picture involved a service man from Dayton and the other a service man from Toledo. This was perfect, my employer just so happens to publish two different papers, one in Toledo and one in Dayton. I wear the trucker cap and the Founding Father hat for both papers. Then I actually examined the stories more carefully and decided not to run them.
The picture for the serviceman from Toledo was fine, it was the picture from Dayton though that was problematic. Here’s a link. A picture of an American with a gun posing a bunch of Iraqis. Yeah, that’s the sort of thing that’s never gone wrong before. I mean, seriously, even if he’s not torturing them (by all appearances he’s forcing them to dance the Y.M.C.A., which does seem like something of an Abu Ghraib move) then he’s arresting them.
The picture for the Toledo service man, while far less inflammatory (it’s just the guy talking to some members of the Chinese Army), didn’t come with a headline and I didn’t really feel like writing one myself.
Sadly, my boss (who wears the nylon stocking face-covering editor’s mask) also saw the emails and ordered me to run both.
Thanks to the Internet (and this blog post) there’s a chance that the real media might find the Dayton photo and turn it into some kind of big story. There’s also a chance that a member of the Chinese government might read the headline I came up with for the Toledo photo (“Local soldier inspects People’s Liberation Army”) and begin pressing the red button.
P.S. My original headline was going to read: Local soldier humiliates, defeats People’s Liberation Army. So you can’t accuse me of not doing my part to avoid a nuclear holocaust.
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