Sunday, March 1, 2009

Through a Different Lens

The Sunday morning edition (2/22/2009) of the Wisconsin State Journal features part one of a series it calls "Rebuilding Wisconsin."

It says:
"Some of the state's infrastructure has been virtually ignored since the New Deal or before because we haven't been able, or willing, to spend on repairs. And the billions included for Wisconsin in the stimulus bill won't come close to fixing all the problems with roads, sewers, and other facilities."
Ok, no argument there.

The picture the State Journal so prominently used to illustrate its point about the state's infrastructure, however, needs to be examined through a different lens.

It's not that the WSJ's staff used this picture in a malicious fashion. They didn't. But, when examined through a 'working class' lens, this picture takes on a different meaning. The caption says, "Aging infrastructure in Wisconsin means more frequent breakdowns, such as this valve failure on a water main on Midvale Boulevard in Madison last week. Madison Water Utility worker Bob Kempfer had the cold, wet task of making the repair."

Out of all the pictures that could have been used for this article, WSJ chose this one. Symbolic connections can be drawn between the photograph and the caption ("aging," "breakdowns," "failure," "worker"). Though we know that many will accuse us of being "too sensitive" in our discussion of this photo, we challenge you to see it from our perspective. For many working class students, the first reaction we have to the photograph comes from our personal connection to it--we picture our fathers or uncles in place of Bob Kempfer and suddenly its not a nameless worker on the frontpage of the paper, but rather a very personal attack on our class, our culture, and our family.

--Working Class Student Union Communication Team