How the media manipulates images to craft a narrative

A reporter with a local news station in Jacksonville had a lot to say about national news coverage of the mayor opening the beaches there, seeing as he was physically there to cover the story. He posted a slideshow of images to demonstrate how dishonest news coverage had been.

It turns out, the national media was manipulating camera angles to exaggerate the crowds:

Pictures of people on the sand at Jacksonville and St. Johns County beaches drew staunch criticism from people all over the world.

The beaches had been closed to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but Mayor Lenny Curry reopened the beaches for exercise after data showed the curve was flattening in the county.

Publications like The Washington Post, CBS News, The New York Times, CNN, Fox News and USA Today were critical of people flocking to the beaches, saying beach goers were ignoring social distancing guidelines and the restrictions Mayor Lenny Curry put in place for the beaches’ partial reopening.

Some photos appear to show the latter is true, but other images show sparse beaches with only groups not larger than 10 people breaking the 6 foot social distancing guideline.

In a social media post, WJXT Reporter and Anchor Vic Micolucci explained how camera lenses capture depth differently.

Eight photos taken during approximately the same time and near the same stretch of sand demonstrate how beaches can appear crowded in one image while a picture of the same scene, captured with a different camera, makes the crowds appear thinner and more spaced out.

What the national media was showing you:

What happens when you photograph the beach from a different angle:

Of course, anyone with half a brain understands that opening the beaches for walking, surfing, and other highly active pursuits, and having them patrolled by police and life guards, is not “a return to normal” for Florida tourism. It’s honestly kind of amazing that these tricks still work on people on social media who also post pictures of their ass from super-specific angles on Instagram on a regular basis. “Like, omg, taking a picture from ten feet in the air and to the left makes me look 50 pounds lighter! Look, I have 10,000 aspiring rappers following me now.”

This is more or less how the media portrays everything now, however. They will do long write-ups on young people who died from the virus, to reinforce their narrative – which is completely unsupported by the data – that young people are dying from the coronavirus in large numbers.

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