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Editing to destroy individuals.

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Bill Davis
Editing to destroy individuals.
on May 5, 2010 at 8:50:34 pm


Saw a web link to a new campaign ad that kinda turned my stomach.

Since we're editors, this is an excellent example of how a skilled editor can take elements like an otherwise likely innocent but unfortunate still photo - and turn it into a vicious piece of visual slander by adding effects and audio.

Unless this guy actually is some kind of pervert - the ads implications are unbelievably perjorative.

And we wonder why decent people hold political types in such dismal esteem. And with more of this - it won't be long before people hold VIDEO EDITORS in equally low regard.

If this was a Democratic ad - it would be to their shame.

This instance happens to be a Republican ad - and either way there's NO excuse for any editor with a shread of human decency to produce work of this nature.

Sad.

http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2010/05/05/lee-fisher-wi...



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Mark Suszko
Re: Editing to destroy individuals.
on May 5, 2010 at 9:28:37 pm

I don't know why he has no shirt on, guess you'd have to live in Ohio to get that joke. Political opposition media is a very unique and highly specialized animal. Like pornography production. Both can be highly lucrative and both can make you ashamed and dirty-feeling.


From a technical standpoint, FWIW, I think they tried to do two conflicting messages in one spot, and it didn't work. Whatever the supposed scandal is involving him shirtless, spending all that time to manipulate the shot into making the still look like motion of an exotic dancer steals your attention from the economics arguments the spot tries to make. They never connected the supposed scandalous behavior to their point. You end up with a garbled mess of a message, IMO.


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Michael McIntyre
Re: Editing to destroy individuals.
on May 5, 2010 at 9:46:41 pm

What Mark said. Excellent points.

On a lighter note, I've always enjoyed the''Mr. Show" political ad parody. These guys aren't actually running for anything which makes it even funnier....










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Rocco Forte
Re: Editing to destroy individuals.
on May 6, 2010 at 4:33:41 pm

Looks like the American Dream to me: Freedom of speech and capitalism churning along! I'm not sure if I'd be able to stomach a job like that.... Would you do it if they offered you $1000? What if they offered $10,000? Or $35,000? Would you still say no? What if you were offered $450,000 / year to work at Fox News and edit similarly misleading news items? What if that church that hates fags offered you $1M to cut a god hates fags spot, would you do it? Would you edit military recruitment ad?

Morals are a funny thing. I have a feeling thousands of people in this country do all of the above and much, much worse.

I don't and it's probably why I live in a small apartment and drive a ten year old car ;o)


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Editing to destroy individuals.
on May 6, 2010 at 5:48:47 pm

"Unless this guy actually is some kind of pervert - the ads implications are unbelievably perjorative(sic)."

"...and either way there's NO excuse for any editor with a shread(sic) of human decency to produce work of this nature."


Bill,
Isn't saying an editor doesn't have any "human decency" if they are working on these type of projects, incredibly pejorative on your part?

Is this thread:
1.) Actually about the 'Art of the Edit'.
2.) Just a way to inject personal political opinion on the board.

IMHO it is #2, and I don't come to the Cows for politics.

FYI: It's pejorative, not perjoratve and it's shred, not shread.

Scott Sheriff
Director
SST Digital Media
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


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cowcowcowcowcow
Bill Davis
Re: Editing to destroy individuals.
on May 6, 2010 at 11:00:49 pm

Scott,

Man, I couldn't disagree more. It's not about the editors ideology. It's about the willingness not to address the ideas or issues, but to simply tear down the person behind them. What ethics class and debate class used to teach as the "ad hominum" attack. Which while arguably often effective, is a form of obfuscation and miss-direction that doesn't solve any problem other than promoting people with the fewest scruples into positions of power.

Every editor here knows that we could take anybody - ANYBODY - from our next door neighbor, to Mother Teresa, and with a few well selected effects, portray them as the polar opposite of who they actually are. I could make YOU look like a child molester and project that image world-wide. And you could do exactly the same to me.

So what stops us? Essentially it's ethics. And when we observe ethics lapses - I think it's CRITICAL that we call them out. The general public has NO CLUE that a cutaway shot indicates that content was likely removed and the interview stream might have been re-ordered to imply the opposite of what the interviewee was saying.

And you can take a photo of anyone - and slap the digital equivalent of a few herpes sores on the face and make anyone seeing that image feel disgusted.

Again, in my view this is NOT Right or Left - Republican or Democrat. EACH (and most other parties!) have done their share of character destruction. It's HONEST verses MANIPULATIVE. And WE're the people sitting in the seats with the power to do the manipulation.

This particular example, for me, crossed the line. And I think it should be called out with EXACTLY the same ferver as when some Democrat Congressman is found to be a slum lord or is taking a kickback from the city council - elements that, BTW have both happened in my state.

We know political abuse happens. But this time, it was done purely through EDITING. That's why I think it's important to discuss here.


Where do YOU guys draw the line? Or do you draw any lines at all? Will you edit kiddie porn if the price is right? How about drunk college kids stomping baby chickens to death? Will you cut that image piece for the local chemical plant to show the jury when they're facing the EPA sanction for polluting the groundwater with something toxic?

The Gizmodo/iPhone prototype story has ethics in media front and center.

Since most people come to this craft without much formal training in these topics at all - when does this stuff even come up if we don't talk about it here?

Or is the COW community going to opt NOT to discuss stuff like this?

Personally, I think it's important. But I'm just one voice.

Time for others to chime in.






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Scott Sheriff
Re: Editing to destroy individuals.
on May 7, 2010 at 4:13:02 am

Bill,
OK, fair enough, I hear what your saying. I will take back what I said about your post being political injection.

But why you doggin' the editor? Or should I say why are you only dogging the editor?
What about the Writer? Producer? The ad agency that conceptualized it? The client that paid for it? The guy that posted it? The company whose server is hosting it? And so on...
Why is it up to the editor to be the gate-keeper? And even if you decide you are going to put your foot down and not do a job. They will just go somewhere else, because there is always, and I mean always, someone that will do it.
So you will feel better, but it won't stop them from doing it.

Editor code of ethics? Is there such a thing?. The only ethics code I ever signed, was to not participate in the Nielsen's as a station employee, and to not freelance for competing stations in the market. But as far as content, or the message, if its legal, it was on the table. Now a days, I would have to decide on a case by case basis since I don't really have any rules, other than it be legal. I'm not one of these people that has bought in to this 'politically correct' BS, that has taken over our society. You have a lot of rights when you live in America. But you don't have a right to go through your life without being offended.
That said, there are some things I won't do, but it would probably have more to do with the client, budget, or schedule than the message. As an editor, or director, my job is to deliver what the client wants, within the established rules. And to contribute ideas that help achieve his goal. We have enough to worry about with copyright, disclosures, license use, technical standards, and paying the bills. I'm really not here to act as the clients social conscience too. That's the producers job.

So you ask, "where do you draw the line?" In most of the examples you cited, they were obviously illegal, so that is where the line is on those.
The last example was a chemical company accused of groundwater pollution, that needed a video for their court case. That is not an illegal or unethical project to be involved in, and I would see no reason to turn it down. There are two sides to every court case, and your straw-man company is entitled to use my services (or any other) in their defense. And as long as they don't lie, they should be allowed to paint themselves in the best light possible. I see a bigger ethics issue with turning down clients because you might personally disagree with their politics, race or religion.

Propaganda, and media manipulation is nothing new, and everyone in the chain is guilty of it to some degree. We all know how you can make people look 'good' or 'bad' with lighting and camera angles during an interview. Or how a certain inflection in the VO can suggest something that isn't actually said. This kind of thing is going on all the time, and it didn't start yesterday. And one of the biggest forms of manipulation that you didn't mention is the omission of material. This is so subtle, and done so often, you could do a case study on that alone. In fact the piece you referenced might be less offensives by that standard, since it is such an obvious, and over the top hit piece. And anyone that views it should be able to see that, and judge the content accordingly.

So we live in a free country, and if this poor schmuck that was on the receiving end of this hit piece doesn't like it, or disagrees with it, he can gin up a response. No one is stopping him. And perhaps someone like yourself that feels outraged by this, might be inclined to take that job, and help him fight back.


Scott Sheriff
Director
SST Digital Media
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


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Alan Lloyd
Re: Editing to destroy individuals.
on May 7, 2010 at 11:37:29 pm

Actually, Scott, it's pretty simple as I see it.

If I would not like the tone of that piece if I saw it directed at a member of my own immediate family, I think I'd tell them to find someone else.

Maybe you're a bit more mercenary than that.


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Editing to destroy individuals.
on May 12, 2010 at 5:28:02 pm

"If I would not like the tone of that piece if I saw it directed at a member of my own immediate family, I think I'd tell them to find someone else."

I don't recall Bill, or anyone else saying this was directed at a member of their family.
This was an attack ad against a politician.
If your going to run for a public office, your fair game. Period, zero, end of story.
If your a celebrity, athlete or anyone else that chooses to live in the public life, same thing.
If your 'joe six pack', just living your life, well that is a different story.

Scott Sheriff
Director
SST Digital Media
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


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grinner hester
Re: Editing to destroy individuals.
on May 6, 2010 at 8:45:24 pm

while I hear ya, man if we only edited projects we believed in, we'd not be booked very often. I've had to make bad products good, evangelists come across as caring, and George Bush Jr. honest.
Just part of the gig.



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Stephen Schott
Re: Editing to destroy individuals.
on May 17, 2010 at 9:26:14 pm

Interesting angle. OK, politics is a hot-button issue. "How can you support HIM!". But Grin makes a point. We've all made products or people look BETTER than they are... What's the difference? Because there was an editor out there than made a specific processed meat a world wide phenomenon, should we rack him up because I think that product sucks and tastes horrible? Just a thought. PC is good as long as we make everything and everyone POSITIVE. As soon as negatives are pointed out, then it's abhorrent?

Stephen Schott
12Basket Productions

"When you've got family, everything else is extra"


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Jake Williams
Re: Editing to destroy individuals.
on May 19, 2010 at 6:29:40 pm

Couldn't help but chime in on the ring of opinion so far expressed:

Political ads like these are of course examples of the worst side of free speech but vitriolic statements have been used in political media for years by countless artists, satirists etc. Why blame the editor? Why not examine the system it exists within. Write your state and federal congressman and encourage him/her to introduce mandatory public campaign financing law. Direct your anger where it can help to reform the system.



Jake Williams


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Stephen Schott
Re: Editing to destroy individuals.
on May 19, 2010 at 7:31:09 pm

Jake,
Not sure what you mean?
I thought the discussion was about the content of such political spots or any other spot, for that matter. Also, I think the discussion was going towards a moral compass and should or should we not accept jobs dependent on our own person morals as editors. I may not be thinking all of this through, but what does finance reform have to do with content of a spot? It may affect how much money they can put towards the spots, it distribution, and frequency of air, but content? I guess it depends on the bill.
BUT, to address your comments, don't we already have the power to quiet this (if we want to)? We have the power, at the primaries, to vote for those that don't carry the torch for the status quo. But to try and force politicians to have a moral compass through legislation is silly, IMHO. Let them shine like this. Then we know what we are all voting for. They still get voted in, majority rules and I can become more active.

Stephen Schott
12Basket Productions

"When you've got family, everything else is extra"


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