Thursday, April 25, 2002

Manufacturing Dissent
A rally earlier this month protesting the proposed expansion of a synagogue on the Brookline-Brighton line was encouraged and partially organized by a Boston Globe reporter and photographer. Sporting the caption "Neighbors gathering last Sunday to protest a Corey Road synagogue’s expansion plans," a photo in the Globe actually depicts people with signs and banners -- who showed up because they knew a photographer would be there. No rally or protest had been planned before learning there could be a photo shoot, a Globe reporter suggested that there be a photo shoot, and participants say they wouldn't have shown up otherwise.

While the Globe is going to run a correction this Sunday, I'm not sure the fault lies entirely with the paper, despite its sketchy ethics in perhaps inadvertently organizing the photo shoot and staged rally. On one side, the Globe did kick off the concept of a photograph of local activists involved in the development efforts. On the other side, folks could've shown up for the photo without signs and banners -- the activists were complicit in the staged rally regardless of the Globe's intent.

Dan Kennedy's perspective in this week's Phoenix largely concentrates on the Globe's involvement in the situation -- and doesn't really address the activists' side of things. He briefly touches on whether the Globe photographer knew that the rally was a set up -- and how the caption goes against Globe policy for dealing with events organized for the paper's benefit. But he fails to question the activists involved. What are the ethics involved in staging protests and direct actions solely to garner media coverage? They feel pretty sketchy, too.

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