For those following the accusations against Paolo Pellegrin coming from RIT student Shane Keller, Professor Loret Steinberg, as well as Bagnewsnotes, I made a visual aid using a Rochester crime map from the last 30 days.
Feel free to use it and share:http://i.imgur.com/rmGbZxO.jpg
New York Times Lens Blog reportage of the whole story:http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/22/a-prize-winning-ethics-lesson/
Here's the article contributed to by Professor Steinberg and Mr Keller:http://www.bagnewsnotes.com/2013/02/when-reality-isn
The issue for me is that the photo is, simply and obviously, misleading. Shane has no place in this story.
The Scio neighborhood is barely north of center city, and is consistently the most dangerous part of the city. It is in the heart of the area commonly referred to as the crescent. From the location of the photo to Scio, there is a 14 minute 8.9 mile highway drive, or 20 minute 6 mile drive through the city.
Getting Shane's rank and position in the military correct is basic fact-checking, and he and Brett were easily accessible, so that doesn't really make sense to me but it's also beside the point (for me - obviously Shane feels differently as the subject, and for good reason). Whether or not the image was portrayed as a portrait or not, and the alleged plagiarism are also, to me, lesser issues. The primary one is that it is misleading and it seems clear that the photographer was aware of this fact.
The problem is that Shane is clearly not representative of the aspects of the city Paolo was trying to photograph. Paolo did a fantastic job capturing real crime in the city. He clearly was able to get enough of a grasp on the situation to figure out where the story was.
For that reason, saying "I didn't know where we had driven to meet Shane" is ridiculous. There is an obvious difference in the neighborhoods. One is city, one is not. One is dangerous, one is not. If that weren't enough, contacting Brett or Shane would clarify, or simply asking Shane about why he keeps his firearms.
The simple obvious truth is this - in a story about a city overrun with crime, violence, and poverty, photographing a middle class gun enthusiast who doesn't live in the city without specifying any of these things portrays them and their guns as something entirely different.