December 28, 2009, Deer Park: Michelle Tingle and her son Zuriel Mason, 9, have been living in a homeless shelter in Deer Park since February. Newsday photograph by Mahala Gaylord
I took this photo for Newsday for an article about the rise of homelessness on the Island and how shelters are unable to handle the new high numbers of people in need of a place to stay. Contact was made with a woman who is homeless and willing to be photographed. I went to the shelter where she and her son are staying and made a portrait. (above) The newspaper was all set to run this picture A1 with the story, but upon receiving the photo from me, and seeing that she was black, they decided not to run it on the front. They cropped it down and stuck it a couple pages back in the paper. WHY? because the paper didn't want to portray the face of homelessness on Long Island as being black. How do you feel about this?
Is it right to NOT use someone's photo because they are a minority? Normally the paper is pushing photographers to find people of color or ethnicity to put in the paper. But this time things about-faced very quickly. I felt put off when I saw what they did with the picture. But I'm not sure if my feelings are stemming from the fact that I took a cool portrait and they cropped it and shrank it and stuffed it on the inside of the paper.
Would most people be angry to see a black homeless person on the front of their newspaper as a picture portraying homelessness in their area? Would they feel that the newspaper was making a statement about homelessness that was not neutral? I feel that the newspaper's not using the picture was also a statement. A statement that they're worried about what people think of the paper, that they fear they are not a neutral news source. As you can see by my rambling statements above, I'm not sure how I feel, or what decision I would have made were I in charge. I'd love some feedback