Comments


  • Kimiko confirmed what I described in terms of her photo selection. She looks for a variety of photos in a package and always look for an image that surprises readers and draws them into the story.

    "The photo, a child walking on a sacred painting, was grabbing because it makes you curious, pulls you into the page," she wrote in an e-mail to me. "It's different from a regular photo of someone sitting in a chair or standing by something. Zooming into something small (like a giant ant) always works well in design."

    In hindsight, she said, she wished the caption explained more, as Bill did with his comment. She was not trying to convey any religious message with the photo selection, she said.

    Hope this helps. Thanks for the question.

    March 25, 2009 at 8:57 p.m.

  • Dear Chris,
    Thanks for your reply.  I looking forward to reading soon Kimiko Fieg's response to my inquiry. God bless you.
    Famijoly

    March 25, 2009 at 2:41 p.m.

  • Famijoly,

    I'll ask our award-winning presentation editor, Kimiko Fieg, to field your questions about how she selects photographs for a page. My big-picture view: We look for photos that grab readers' attention and help tell the story. When a story is focused on one person, we also look hard for a variety of images so that we're not showing a picture again and again of that individual's face.

    The picture in question certainly fit all of the above criteria, but I'll see what more Kimiko has to add. She does wonders with the look of the Advocate's news report every day.

    March 25, 2009 at 8:45 a.m.

  • Dear Bill,
    Thank you for your thorough response to my question on how the shot of young Guadalupe walking on an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego came about.  I truly appreciate your sensitivity in taking the time to answer.  God bless you.
    In light of your response,  Bill, I now renew my inquiry to Chris Cobler and the Advocate's editors on the following points:
    a) What was it about this photo among the 18 submitted that said to you, "This one should be included"?
    b) What was it about this photo among those that made the cut for publication that said to you, "You know what, that's our section cover art"?
    Thanks for this forum to ask these questions. 
    Famijoly

    March 25, 2009 at 12:40 a.m.

  • Dear Famijoly--
      Concerning the photo of the child's feet on the painting of the saint: When Gabe and I went into the living room for the interview, the painting was among a number leaning against the wall.
      During the interview, the toddler walked into the room, took the painting and put it on the floor. A few minutes later, I was shooting other photos while sitting on the floor. The child walked into the room and stood by the painting. I took a picture but it was not published. Minutes later, the child walked over the stood on the painting. It was NOT staged.
      The photo was among 18 that I submitted to the editors who design the Fatal Funnel pages. I do not know why they chose to make that frame so dominate. When I took tripped the shutter, it seemed like an interesting photo.
      I will admit that because of its predominate size could make it seem to be symbolic. Certainly that was not my intention. As for the little one's name--that is pure coincidence.
      --Bill Clough

    March 24, 2009 at 9:57 a.m.

  • Thanks, Tom, for posting an appropriate link. I have a few minutes online tonight, so I'll chime in briefly.

    Yes, journalists' primary role is to document society. People seem to miss this point when they don't like a subject covered. The story is not taking a position on this subject, any more than today's front-page story is in favor of the Salvation Army expansion. Many probably see the latter as a positive story, but our intent with news coverage is to be fair and balanced.

    We appreciate all of you adding your thoughts to this important issue. The sometimes-heated conversation underscores why many consider this subject worthy of in-depth reporting.

    March 23, 2009 at 8:50 p.m.

  • Let me chime in here for editor Chris Cobler. He's traveling and doesn't have access for parts of the next few days. Let's be clear: we're not talking about witnessing a murder. Hopefully, none of my colleagues would ever be in that situation. Chris has responded here a few times already explaining what the purpose of this story is. Reporter Gabe Semenza also blogged about it as well.

    Meanwhile, here's a link to an ethics story that talks about a topic related to this one. It's an interesting read:

    journalism.indiana.edu/resources/ethics/controversial-photos/as-life-passes-by/

    March 23, 2009 at 11:40 a.m.

  • "If a newspaper can find a particular illegal immigrant so easily . . ." is exactly the point.  That one incredible fact is central to the frustrated anger of U.S. citizens like myself.  Why should consent to stagger under the burden of obeying law - laws so voluminous we can't so much as know what they demand of us - and live in fear (that's the purpose of law imposing penalties, you know) - if people from another country (and those who aid and abet) them do as they pretty please?
    You seem, too, to be saying that because there are others committing a crime you are entitled to do the same.  Let me set you ethically straight: the fact that the government refuses to enforce the law does not in any way entitle you or anyone to do the same.  You, in fact, merely demonstrate the truth of Justice Louis Brandeis observation concerning government that will not obey its own laws:  "The government is the potent, omnipresent teacher.  For good or ill it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself, it invites anarchy. To declare that the end justifies the means--to declare that the government may commit crimes would bring terrible retribution."
    We are now as the nation facing that retribution. More, I would suggest that you re-read my quote here, and insert where it says "government" the words "the media."  You, the press, are also that "potent, omnipresent teacher."
    I'm disappointed, my friend - very, very disappointed.

    March 23, 2009 at 8:48 a.m.

  • Next time we have a murder in Victoria, perhaps your newshounds can hunt him down and get his sad story of justification. But because you're not an "arm of the law", don't bother telling law enforcement. Just get what YOU can out of it that will benefit your newspaper and be done with it.
    Fact is newspapers thrive off of misery. You take the bad and you exploit it and expose it to gain more readers. Your # goal....to make money. No one pays to see people helping eachother or thier community. They pay to see pictures of a car wreck with body parts laying all over the place.
    Journalism is just a fancy word ya'll use to sugar coat the sad work that you do. "Journalism" has been this way since it's beginnings. You can't trust the news. It's just another money making machine. Whatever sells papers is what you see.

    March 23, 2009 at 4:43 a.m.

  • Chris,
    I'm wondering about the half-page photo on page 1E of the March 22 Advocate.  The relevant portion of the cutline says, "Above:  Lopez's 18-month-old son, Guadalupe, plays in the living room."  This picture is what I noticed first through the plastic wrapper when I picked up my copy of the newspaper Sunday morning.
    The photo depicts a pair of bare, very youthful, babyish feet standing on a painted image of Our Lady of Guadalupe with inset paintings of  the Blessed Virgin Mary with St. Juan Diego.  The painting is clearly framed and is photographed image-side up with the back of the frame on a carpeted floor. 
    There is no reference to religious faith in any of the text in the story, nor does any religious imagery appear in any other photo accompanying the story.  In the most dominant picture of the section front, a section that was on the outside of the rest of the Sunday paper as delivered to subscribers' yards, a child's feet are shown walking on an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Juan Diego in a frame that is designed to be hung on the wall or at least propped up against the wall or a shelf. 
    Why was this photo chosen as the dominant photo of the story, a full-color shot that takes up almost all the space above the fold on a Sunday section front that was noticeable through the plastic delivery wrapper?  Was the painting on the floor prior to Bill Clough snapping the picture?  Perhaps already on the floor as pictured when Bill arrived at the house? Or was the painting placed on the floor as part of staging the shot?  If so, why an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe?  The cutline says the child's name is Guadalupe.  Is this why Guadalupe is seen trampling Our Lady of Guadalupe? 

    March 23, 2009 at 1:37 a.m.

  • Sugar,

    I'm not surprised some reacted strongly to this month's installment of Fatal Funnel. I posted this to start the conversation about reporting responsibly on illegal immigration, not to fish for compliments.

    In terms of aiding and abetting any illegal immigrant,  we see that quite differently. If a newspaper can find a particular illegal immigrant quite easily, do you really think it's that difficult for our government to do the same? We submit our story serves a greater societal purpose than the arrest of one of  about 12 million people who live here illegally.

    All sides of this debate agree the system we have is flawed. The big question remains: How do we fix it? We plan to tackle that difficult question in an upcoming installment. Before we get there, we are trying to bring people many facets of the issue.

    March 22, 2009 at 7:38 a.m.

  • Chris - I must agree with Spock here. You are in effect "aiding and abetting" a criminal if you are aware of illegal activity and do not report same. I have all due respect for your role as a journalist and newspaper editor, but I like to think that above all, you are a CITIZEN. Citizenship comes with responsibilities. You have left yourself and your newspaper wide open to criticism with blogs like these, fishing for commendations, then acting surprised that not everyone sees things your way and lobs a few facts your way.

    March 22, 2009 at 1:13 a.m.

  • "dteach," have at least the integrity to stop saying "we are all immigrants." That is utter nonsense on its silly face.  By the very definition of the word, no one born in this country of a U.S. citizen is an immigrant.  Neither does politics have anything to do with it. 
    Does it give you some kind of peculiar petty intellectual satisfaction to mindlessly recite the latest political solecism?  People in this country illegally are on the other hand illegal aliens in every sense of the word.  Try to stick to facts - as John Adams noted, stubborn things, but necessary for order (and sanity).    
    And, Chris, failure to report a crime or criminal is a crime known as misprision (or subornation).  The law in that regard does not excuse anyone - including journalists.  As a recent guest editorialist pointed out, reporters do not have the right to know where a bank robber is and say nothing.  The right to protect news soources has never meant reporters could withhold evidence and cover up crime.  This is exactly that. 
    Suppose, as many of his ilk have, this guy commits a crime - or has already committed a crime - like robbery, rape, or murder.  I generally support the right of journalists to protect their sources, but this goes far, far beyond the pale.   This kind of journalism can only lead to loss of another important civil right, that of the first amendment.  I hope you reconsider your stance on this. 

    March 21, 2009 at 8:29 p.m.

  • I look forward to reading you special "The Fatal Funnel".   We are all immigrants - it is through our politics that we are either  "legal" or "illegal".  I hope that you will cover a bit of past US history and the hard facts (not a pretty picture of how early settlers acquired the land we now consider our country).  Step outside the box and look into the future.  Change will always be coming and we are never going to please everyone but we can always make the effort to do our part in making our world a better place to live in.

    March 21, 2009 at 3:59 a.m.

  • Regarding the question of whether we reported an illegal immigrant to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, we did not. Journalists are not an arm of law enforcement. Rather, journalists must be apart from government to properly serve as a check and balance. We think reporting this story is more important to society than reporting any particular illegal immigrant.

    If ICE wanted to find any individual illegal immigrant, surely it wouldn't be difficult. I looked a bit on the ICE Web site to see if there was even a way for people to report illegal immigrants and didn't find such a resource. Perhaps others know of such a hotline.

    March 20, 2009 at 10:20 p.m.

  • Give it up folks; it's no use.  You and I, the common man born here in the Land of the Fee of a legal U.S. citizen, are used as the rich and the government they own lock, stock, and barrel see fit.  We have little or no voice in matters having to do with even a little profit in money, and this is about money - lots and lots of money.  Even a blind pig, it's been said, finds an acorn now and then, and even Ann Coulter found an acorn when she said illegal immigrants are the new form of slavery. 
    And, no, I'm not calling Ann Coulter a pig; I'm a gentleman, she's a woman - facts that mean I must pretend (it means behave in a certain manner before the public) she is what was once known as a lady (who in hell remembers that, nowadays?).
    During the almost ten years that I lived homeless in the wilderness (IRS took everything, broke up my marriage and family, and took deliberate steps to assure that I would never again return to business or gainful employment otherwise), I once applied for food stamp assistance.  It was an experiment - I needed food stamps like I needed a crutch - one of literally scores of fact-finding operations I did during the time.  The experiments, including infiltration of federal agencies at all level, were reconnaissance, "intelligence" that has enable me to predict unerringly matters like the latest "bailout" calamity. 
    At the Del Rio office where I made application the day I was there, no less than twenty-one illegal aliens were also waiting in line, applying for federal assistance (it happens that I have been able to speak and understand Spanish most of my life, and the criminals made little bones to their Latino, Spanish-speaking brethren about the fact of their status).  They wanted U.S. taxpayer money, and every Spanish-speaking person in the Del Rio knew where to go and how to get it.  Those, incidentally, were the ones who didn't simply engage in mugging old people.  When I reported an attempt by three young hoods to relieve me of my money, matter of fact, a deputy sheriff told me, "Oh, yeah, that happens all the time, they come over here, take down somebody easy, then go back across the border.  It's like they never pay a traffic fine - they don't have to because they know we can't do anything to collect it."
    I was instructed when I made application for food stamps that my claim would have to be investigated.  Three months later, I received notice that my application had been rejected.  All of the aliens upon whom I checked, six families, were on the other hand granted food stamps and other federal assistance.  I was also at the time struggling (five solid hours on "hold" on the telephone, only to be ultimately cut off, for instance) to get social security payment.  Having started paying social security tax in 1950 at fourteen years of age, and having paid it all my life, my claim was also being investigated.  It was "investigated" for two years before payments were begun, matter of fact. 
    I spent so much time at the several social security offices during those years, matter of fact, that I knew everyone by name, as did they me.
    In the twenty three years that I went under the relentless harassment and torment to which the U.S. Government subjects citizens who somehow draw its ire, I was denied not only assistance of any kind - including simple observance of the Bill of Rights - but was afforded nothing close to the forbearance and largesse granted illegal aliens.  Not even close.  More, my repeated demands - seriously intended and in writing - that I be considered an illegal alien (after all, I do speak Spanish) were rejected with contempt.  So, too, were my legal pleas that I be granted illegal alien status.   
    The fundamental questions being asked by most legal citizens of the U.S. - those who are wage-earners, the poor and low middle class, that is - is why do we get less consideration from our government than illegal aliens from Mexico and other Latin nations?  Why are our entreaties to government given far, far less weight than those of people here in our country illegally?  Why are the relatively few officials who with any energy enforce the law equally despite the fact of illegal status come almost inevitably under attack from their fellows in government, especially the federal version?  Why do blatantly illegal aliens receive assistance like the food stamps, medical care, and more - assistance withheld from a native, life-long citizen (and veteran of our military and its wars). 
    I was several times - the time in 1996 when I was struck while in a protected crosswalk by an eight passenger van driven by a federal agent, for instance - obliged before receiving treatment of wounds to either present proof of insurance converage or pay cash for emergency room assistance given illegal aliens free of charge.  Why should that be?
    Zbigniew Brzezinsky recently stated that he feared class warfare in the U.S.  I wrote that I feared that more than a decade ago.  That is the only possible outcome of what I have seen, things like your apparent forbearance toward illegal immigration.  My "reconnaissance" of government, my "experiments" during my  time of war with the "nation of laws," were the reason.  The news that you, too, harbor an illegal immigrant makes me wonder again.  Maybe you can explain why he has more status - especially where our supreme law and its bill of rights are concerned - than I have.
    Perhaps you will include that in your upcoming feature.    

    March 20, 2009 at 6:58 p.m.

  • They are NOT immigrants. They are foreign invaders. Criminals that take advantage of our tax payers.

    They get free everything. We work but they get it free!! That is not what FREE America is about.

    There are millions of US citizens now out of work, yet the invaders have jobs, free housing, medical, educations.  Everything free. They get SS benefits, now they want to even take our retirement funds  we worked and paid for and give it to them.. WHY because they are NOT Americans. If the government crooks want to support the invaders then let them pay it with their mega bonuses. Feed and board them in the W/hitehouse and State houses with the rest of the freeloaders.

    A foreign citizenship is worth more in the US than an American one. 

    If they don't like their country then they need to change it, not come here and make American a version of their country.

    I am ashamed how US businesses cater to them. Push 1 for English my A  S  S .. nothing pi  sses me off more than having to be reminded  every time I call a business or government office that our country is being taken from the tax payers  and given to the freeloaders.

    If they want to speak garbage then they need to go back to THEIR country and leave ours.

    If they come here legally fine, if they are not. then turn them into slaves AND SELL LIKE LIVESTOCK to citizens.

    March 20, 2009 at 4:17 p.m.

  • Chris...I thought one of the hallmarks of good citizenship was to report a crime when you are aware of it and to provide the pertinent information to the authorities.  If you -- or your reporter -- knew this person is here illegally, did you notify ICE and let them know where he could be found? 

    March 20, 2009 at 10:51 a.m.

  • I don't care what their story is. There is no such thing as "living opening in the shadows". These illegals are making life for americans harder. They need to learn english and get citizenship or they should just go home and wave their little flags in Mexico.

    March 20, 2009 at 8:01 a.m.

  • I have a few questions of my own to ask any illegal alien, no matter the country of their origin.
    Have you stolen someone's identify? Do you desire to just work here and return to your country of origin? Do you desire US citizenship? If you desire US citizenship, are you willing to give up citizenship to your country of origin, learn to speak and write basic English, learn our laws, follow our laws, fight for country if necessary in its defense?  Is your family also here? Did you commit crimes against people in your country of origin or here? If your family is here, have any of them committed crimes against people here? Are you or anyone in your family a gang member, or dealer in drugs, or user of illegal drugs? Do you have full understanding of the legal avenues to getting a worker's permit or seeking citizenship? 
    I look forward to reading the story. 

    March 19, 2009 at 10:35 p.m.