Journalism, Vol. 6, No. 3, 379-396 (2005)
DOI: 10.1177/1464884905054066
© 2005 SAGE Publications
Blinded by ‘objectivity’

How news conventions caused journalists to miss the real story in the ‘Our Lady’ controversy in Santa Fe

Kevin Dolan
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA Biographical note,

In 2001, a photo montage by Los Angeles artist Alma López called Our Lady created a firestorm in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Because of journalistic practices that wait for officials or major players to raise issues before doing stories on them in order to claim ‘objectivity’, newspaper coverage left many underlying issues surrounding the controversy largely unexamined. This predominant trend in coverage privileged the almost exclusively male protesters by constantly replaying their attacks. Also, the way in which the different sides were condensed in ongoing stories forced the artist and her mostly female supporters to play defense without their best defense: the Sandra Cisneros essay that inspired the work and its feminist critique of Chicano culture and its effect on Latinas’ self-image.

Key Words: art • ethnicity • feminism • gentrification • neutrality • news conventions • objectivity • representation • self-image