Morning Moods – Internet at Risk

I woke up in something of a black mood this morning, to radio coverage of the flooding in Cumbria, where we have friends who I think are fortunately safe. Although I was listening from the comfort of a warm bed, it brought back memories of our own local floods in February 2014, when dirty water was lapping around our street, above the level of our ground floor for anxious days, though we were fortunately saved from flooding by a ditch behind our house. Next time we probably won’t be so lucky, and the next time could come any time with the current climate instability, and I’m increasingly sceptical that the current climate talks in Paris will do much to help.

Other news only added to my unease, along with several concerns closer to home I won’t bother you with. So I was pleased when I sat down at my computer this morning to find Louis Stettner and the Glories of Penn Station, a beautiful set of black and white images from 1958, which really lifted my spirits.

It was also good to read A D Coleman coming out with what he calls an ‘Opening Salvo‘ against attacks on his Capa research by Magnum, who as he says has evolved from “the bohemian collective cum anarcho-syndicalist commune of its origins and first several decades” into “a substantial corporate entity with a multimillion-dollar annual revenue stream, a recognizable and decidedly upscale brand, an extensive and metastasizing product line, and a new executive director committed to aggressive and inventive marketing.”

Magnum has no facts or argument to answer the detailed research on Capa by Coleman and his colleagues but seem determined to try and discredit it to protect their image – now a highly commercial brand. Part of their response appears to be to a TV docudrama Magnum, made by Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films, which Coleman expects to reinforce the Capa myths about the ‘Falling Soldier’ and D Day rather than represent the truth – though he has contacted the company with details of the recent research.

Of course, though Capa was undoubtedly a great photographer, he was also a great raconteur, someone who would never have allowed the facts to get in the way of a good story, so Carnival Films could be said to be truly if cynically following in his tradition.

It’s also – as I’ve had occasion to say several time in the past few days, not least in the highly inaccurate recording of an apparently peaceful vigil in Walthamstow and almost every story about Jeremy Corbyn – very much in the tradition of at least parts of our press (though gutter and broadsheet have been vitriolically united over Corbyn, who I’ve known and photographed for many years and admire as a person even if I don’t always agree with his views.)

Another link in my feed reader this morning was from ‘Stand Up And Spit‘ and links to a BBC radio documentary from 1980 on a Sun newspaper shock horror probe on the Tilbury skinheads, Aggro Britain. It exposes how bad tabloid journalism can be, and how it was done, something that makes me ashamed of some fellow journalists (though the only real UK journalists union, the NUJ, is locked out of The Sun and other News International publications) and also reminds me how necessary it is to support the BBC, despite some of their often ridiculous news stories.

And a final bit of gloom from my e-mail, which could mean the end of the Internet as we know it. The EU Commission’s roadmap for copyright reform “could open the door to absurd new rules that would kill our ability to link freely – copyrighting hyperlinks and charging to link to freely accessible content online.” A ‘Link Tax‘ would make posts like this one impossible. If you click on one link today let it be to Save the Link to fill in your name on a message to Commissioner Oettinger “Link censorship has no place on the open Web. Please listen to users and guarantee our right to link freely.”

3 Responses to “Morning Moods – Internet at Risk”

  1. A D Coleman has e-mailed me about this post, and here is his comment which he has given me permission to post:

    “As always, I appreciate your supportive attention to our Capa D-Day project.

    I think you go a bit too far — much further than I would go, anyhow — in calling the forthcoming Carnival Films docudrama series about Magnum’s early days a “response” to our investigation. From what I can gather, negotiations for this series began well before we initiated our project. Clearly, from everything that the parties involved have said so far, it intends to burnish the Magnum image and brand. But I doubt they considered that necessary because our research had tarnished them.

    By the same token, while I anticipate that this series will simply trot out and dramatize the same old hoary stories, including the now-discredited Capa D-Day fable, it’s possible that they’ll take our findings into account and effect some revisionism in that and other Magnum foundation myths. I won’t hold my breath waiting for that, but I don’t think we should pre-judge them either. Let’s see what they come up with; we may get pleasantly surprised. (Can’t hurt to let them know we’re watching, however.) “

  2. ChrisL says:

    Given the, understandable, passion Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson exercise in managing the use of his work under their control it will be interesting to see how that works out, or not.
    Candidates for playing HCB or Capa?

  3. Were I writing the script I think I would start in post-war Paris and finish with the death of Capa in 1954, thus only dealing perhaps with with D-Day in flashbacks. And avoiding Gene Smith.

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