Wednesday, January 30, 2013

That Gawker/Reddit viral photo of Omaha manhole "pillars of fire" wasn't what Gawker said it was

Gawker claimed the "photo showed "pillars of fire bursting from downtown Omaha" and 50,000 of its readers clicked on the picture.
     One-and-a-half million people saw the photo on Reddit.
     But no one was claiming ownership, so Matthew Hansen at the World-Herald decided to find out who actually took the picture:
     I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from a slightly above-average public university.
     I'm clearly qualified for most everything.
     Why don't I figure this out? Why don't I solve the lingering mystery of the Great Omaha Manhole Fire Photo of 2013?
     The ensuing city-wide manhunt took me an entire morning and involved several maneuvers that can best be described as quasi-stalkerish.
     It included a man named Kenneth who wore no pants, a lawyer named Gwen who works in my own office building and a lot of purposeful staring at a fuzzy, blown-up iPhone image as if it were a modern-day Zapruder film.
     Turns out that the photographer (who took more than one cell phone photo of the Howard Street scene) was a 23-year-old graduate student at Creighton and that the appearance of multiple fires was an optical illusion, albeit a naturally-occurring one unabetted by Photoshop, but encouraged by the way iPhones evidently see the world.
     Alas, AKSARBENT was fooled too.
     There's a lesson in all this and the lesson is: if you're lounging around in what you thought was your rented castle in only your shorts and a redhead-on-a-mission from the World-Herald bangs on your door, don't open it even a little, unless you want to be defined for the world as "Pantsless Kenneth."
Go here to see Stephanie Sands talk to KMTV about her viral photo.

No comments:

Post a Comment