Tuesday, February 9, 2010

IC Counselor's Case in Court

The Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Iowa City Press-Citizen recently published a story about an accused Iowa City molester and his trial. As a quick recap of this case story, a former elementary school guidance counselor is accused of inappropriately touching a boy who was then 10 years old in 2004. According to both stories from The Gazette and the Press-Citizen, the boy was regularly visiting the guidance counselor because of his introverted personality. Specifically on two occasions, the boy said the counselor touched him and muffled his voice with a stuffed animal. The boy did not report the 2004 incidents until five years after they allegedly occurred. The counselor denies the accusations. The trial is underway and is expected to end this week.

Editorially speaking, I actually enjoyed the Press-Citizen’s story much better than The Gazette’s because it was more thorough and detailed. Both stories were an update concerning the trial, along with background information, but the Press-Citizen did a better job giving more background information that really completed the story. For example, both stories took a different approach in the lead: The Gazette said the case is in the hands of the jury, while the Press-Citizen referenced what the boy said at the trial concerning the 2004 incident. Ultimately, I liked the Press-Citizen’s version better because it actually taught me something. Obviously the case is in the hands of the jury, but since I did not attend the trial, it was nice to learn that at the trial, the boy said he "didn't know how to react" to the 2004 incidents at the time. But aside from the stories themselves, there was definitely something strange about the photos chosen by the publications to represent the trial.

Matthew Holst/Press-Citizen

Brian Ray/The Gazette

Mallory Cole/Edited Gazette Photo

A strange thing I found was basically the exact same photo on both Web site stories, with different photographers in the caption. The use of both newspapers to use a very similar photo is interesting for several reasons. It is very strange that both used the same photo. Comparing the two, they look almost exactly the same, perhaps edited to look different. The lighting is different, but that can be changed simply by editing the photo on the computer. The cropping is virtually the same as well. The focus in the photos are a bit different concerning the background's visibility.

It's a bit odd that out of all the photos that could have been taken by the photographers during the trial, both took this exact shot (supposing the photos are indeed shot by the two photographers from different newspapers). Why not use a file photo? Why not use a mug shot of the suspect? How ironic that both photos are almost the exact same photo? If the photos are different because they were indeed taken by different photographers, how strange is it that the photos were taken at the exact same time (which you can tell by looking at the body movement and facial expressions) and then used for both newspapers?

So, for fun, I edited my own version of The Gazette's photo to make it look more like the Press-Citizen's photo. I did it in a few minutes on my computer with regular photo editing software that usually comes standard. I couldn't make the photo look exactly like the Press-Citizen's, but the editing options are numerous if a person does try to claim another person's photo as their own by editing it.

Either there’s definitely something “fishy” going on there, or it’s a coincidence. What do y'all think?

UPDATE: The defendant was found guilty. His sentencing is scheduled for later.


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