Frustrating Journalists


Posted on : 8/26/2011 06:30:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

The New York Times is my windmill.  I am your Don Quixote.  They drive me mad!

Not really, but they are a source of vexation.

The most recent example was a photo that accompanied a story about labeling those serving in the military as "heroes".  It was an interesting story with a few decent points.

The photo was insulting.  The link for the original photo is here.  I have saved the image and stored it on Google's Picasa...just in case.

NYTimes Screws Up Again

You may find this military awards information and this US Army uniform information from Wikipedia to be useful for the ensuing discussion.

The first problem is where should I begin?

First, the US Army has two different service uniforms.  The old, out-dated service uniform is green. It is typically worn with a light green dress shirt.  The new service uniform is blue.  It is typically worn with a white shirt.  The green uniform hasn't been issued since 2009 and will be obsolete in 2014.

The model in the photo above is wearing a white shirt with a green blouse.

Then take a look at the rank insignia.  I cannot recall when the US Army last put the rank insignia on the lapels of the blouse.  To add insult to injury, the insignia is just slapped on the lapels in an uneven and non-symmetric fashion.  If the rank insignia did belong on the blouse lapels, they would be worn so that they were pointed along the bisector of the lapel.

And I fully realize that the illustration in that last link is from the US Marine Corps.  It was the best illustration that I could quickly locate.

Now look at the right side of the uniform.  That would be the left side of the photo.  See that badge?  Care to guess what it signifies?

That badge signifies that Corporal Schmuckatelli here is also a bonafide Naval Aviator.  Think "Tom Cruise in 'Top Gun'. "

Now can you imagine the set of circumstances that would have permitted the good Corporal to fall from the heights of a commissioned US naval officer and Naval Aviator to lowly US Army Corporal?  Nor can I.

Finally, look at the left side of the uniform.  It is important to know that ribbons are worn in a specific manner and in a specific order.  Ribbons are typically mounted using a ribbon bar.  They look like this.

Ribbons are worn in a very particular order.  The most common ribbons are organized with personal decorations on the top row and towards the right of the person wearing the ribbons.  That would be left as you are looking at the photo.

Next would come unit awards, followed by campaign awards and service awards.

Beginning at the top/inboard position, we have
  • Vietnam Service Medal, with 2 stars indicating 3 awards
  • Navy/Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation, with 1 star indicating 2 awards
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal
  • Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal
  • Navy Unit Commendation
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal
  • Soldier's Medal
  • Distinguished Service Medal (Army) (typically awarded to senior officers for unusual and extraordinary service, not NCOs)

An awful lot of Navy medals for a Corporal in the US Army, no?  Methinks that grandpa's old uniforms got raided for this photo.

In the correct order:

I think the obvious conclusion is that some photographer slapped together something that looked "military-ish" and took a picture.  They had probably watched too much Star Trek with Captain Kirk's splatter of oddments, buttons, and colored wig-wags to understand that, 300 years before the voyages of the the good Captain and his crew, the tradition was to wear one's awards in a specific order and arrangement.

Quite frankly, the photographer didn't care.  They didn't think the proper display of a US military uniform was important enough to warrant their time and attention.

While that is disappointing, it is certainly forgivable.

What is unforgivable is for the New York friggin' Times to use such obviously poor photography as an illustration with any story associated with their name.  Do they think that our military and military veterans do not read their work?  Do they not understand that their "brand" is already suspect because of some the stereotypes that they create and/or propagate?  Do they not have military veterans on their writing and photography staff?

Do they not care?

While they obviously do not care enough to get it right the first time, I do have to acknowledge that they changed the image associated with the story.  They even included a correction.  The old image was still on their server.  No harm in an unused image.

That is a reasonable course of events if we were talking about the Quad City Times.  Not quite so reasonable if we are talking about American's America's self professed "newspaper of record".  The worst part is that while I would not think it unreasonable for the Quad City Times to make such a mistake, I also expect that the QC Times would care enough about this issue to get put extra effort into getting it right the first time.  The NY Times has the resources to get it right the first time without extra effort, and the bungled it.

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