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Morris, Errol. Case of the Inappropriate Alarm Clock (Part 1). New York Times Opinion blog, October 18, 2009.

In this blog article, Errol Morris, a documentary filmmaker and a fellow of the ??? Academy of Arts, discusses the use of photographs in newspapers to portray the drought of 1936. During the summer of 1936, states in the Western plains, North Dakota, Washington, Montana, experienced a severe drought. Pictures that were taken and released by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) were described as fakery and bad and "proof of government waste, duplicity and fraud" by small-town newspapers. Farmers in North Dakota were more concerned about how the picture portrayed their farmland and ability to grow crops than real or not real portrayal of the drought. Or in other words, it going to make us look?

A picture of cows grazing in front of the state capitol in North Dakota was said to be a fake because it supposedly was a composite of two pictures; however, when it was proven that this was not the case, the picture was still considered a fake, but now a fake representation not of what went on at the capitol, but a fake in terms of not being an accurate representation of the drought. This is an example of the charges that were made against the photographers who worked for the FSA of manipulating photographs to make the drought look worse. Another example of charges of fake photography involved a photography taken of a cow skull, the charges being whether or not the skull came from a cow that died because of the drought, and whether or not the skull had been moved from its original location to make the drought images look worse. Morris, the author is this piece, raises some very important questions regarding the issues that revolved around the fake picture controversies. What were the real reasons behind the charges, and were the pictures being made and used in an attempt to shift focus away from whether or not administration was handling the drought crisis effectively, especially since his reelection was at stake.

Morris concludes by pointing out that the same questions arise today regarding the use of photographs to present reality.