Letters to the Editor: Photos without identification criticized, and explained

While checking out the Oct. 9 issue of the Addison Independent, I noticed the photos accompanying an article describing folklorist Gregory Sharrow’s upcoming talk about immigrant artists in Vermont.
I noted that none of the three photos related to this article included the names of the artists shown in the pictures. Instead, the photo captions read: “New American artists, like this woman…”; “This Somali Bantu musician, playing…”; “waves of immigrants, like these weavers….” In contrast, the 4-H award winner, the elderly services director, the Twangton Paramours, Gregory Sharrow, and almost all of the other mostly white people in photos had captions which included their names, or recognized them in a more personal way.
For an article about acknowledging the contributions of the vibrant communities enriching and diversifying our state, it’s discourteous and kind of ironic that an equal effort was not expended to go beyond stock photos and generic, impersonal labels.
Melody Daigle
Editor’s note: The letter writer makes a fair point — it is better to identify people by name. We recognized the irony that a story about welcoming people did not include the names of those being welcomed; but we did actually make an equal effort to identify these people, if not more of an effort. Many photos are submitted to us at the newspaper with varying amounts of identification and we have to weigh the value of running a poorly-ID’d image that will draw attention to a story against the damage of disrespecting people by presenting their image without proper identification. Having to decide whether to run these photos as is after we had run out of available time to get the names, we decided that drawing attention to Gregory Sharrow’s talk justified the slight.

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