Joerg has a decent post on the World Press ‘Propaganda’ debate (amongst other things):
Jim Johnson said the top prize had been given for “propaganda”, as did Benjamin Chesterton of duckrabbit fame. I have a lot of respect for both Jim and Benjamin, but I think they’re wrong here. I am fully aware of Time Magazine’s use of the photo to bolster the war in Afghanistan, but that fact does not make the photo a piece of propaganda.
I would like to point out that I have never said the photo itself is a ‘piece of propaganda’, nor that it had been awarded for services to propaganda (my problem is how Aisha’s suffering has been (ab)used). When I first wrote about Bieber’s work last year I described it as ‘powerful and dignified photos of women in Afghanistan.’
Much of my work in Ethiopia was centered on abuses against the rights of women. This is something that I feel strongly about. Week in week out the radio programme I was responsible for told the stories of many girls like Aisha that are all too commonplace around the world. So I recognize and appreciate the dignity that Bieber has given Aisha in this photo. I also recognize just how traumatic it will have been for Aisha to tell her story and am sickened that her personal tragedy and Bieber’s talents somehow were the catalyst for the TIME cover, ‘WHAT HAPPENS IF WE LEAVE AFGHANISTAN’.
This was my thoughts published on duckrabbit when the TIME cover was first released. They have not changed:
Much of my work in Ethiopia was related to women’s rights and the record in that country is as bad, if not worse than Afghanistan. Strangely the US and the UK take a different approach to Ethiopia. Instead of bombing the country every year they donate a couple of hundred million dollars in aid. It’s not always money well spent, but it sure beats bombing people as a way of changing barbaric cultural practices.
TIME’S editorial certainly makes for a great t-shirt ‘Bomb Afghanistan for women’s rights’, but I can’t see many behavioral change experts recommending it as a way to stop women being raped, mutilated or forced into early marriage.