Beware the Reporter | What I Learned


 In Flight 

I’ll start with this afternoon’s post with some background.  The Portsmouth Museum of Art has curated an exhibit currently on display in the museum and on some of the exterior walls of buildings/etc. around the city.  If you’re a local, you know that this has become quite the hot button and topic of conversation among people throughout the city.

With the acceleration of the story and the press, the Union Leader posted a story on its front page about how some locals were highly offended.  I am perfectly aware that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and actually love that the exhibit has some people so upset.  As an artist myself, I welcome the controversy and the dialogue. 

When I was heading to Dos Amigos for lunch yesterday, I saw a reporter and cameraman poised on the corner opposite the “Tomorrowman” piece on the Marple & James building.  The streets were mostly empty, so when heading in their direction, they began to come up with their pitch – which I turned down 3 times before finally agreeing to comment on camera.  I shared what was probably a 3-4 minute thought, which included how I thought it’s been great for the town despite some people taking issue with the historic buildings getting a makeover, and how the artistic community has been engaged on a broader level (not to mention that the exhibit has brought Portsmouth additional awareness from artists around the world). 

Of my (what I thought was) thoughtful response, they chose one sound bite – one that helped further their agenda of airing a controversial piece – which was that I wouldn’t have my house painted with street art.  Of course I wouldn’t, I don’t live downtown, I live in a purely residential area without retail uses or pedestrians other than my dog walking neighbors.  That didn’t matter – they wanted to show people taking digs at the artwork and at the museum.  It’s really unfortunate, because it’s what I had expected to happen and why I turned it down several times. I thought that if I opined, I might actually bring some positive light to the story – but sadly, Karen Anderson of WBZ-TV proved me wrong. As a supporter of the Portsmouth Museum of Art, I’m deeply disappointed in WBZ, but thrilled the conversation continues.

11 thoughts on “Beware the Reporter | What I Learned

  1. Yes it is a sad state in that more and more news outlets do not report news as much as they try to create it.

    Still I love the “Boom” photo. Great color and good use of a lens disadvantage to an advantage.

  2. I’ve been misquoted before, and it is really disheartening. I am a journalist, which makes it even more discouraging. Sorry you had to experience that. But great photo, nonetheless! Long live street art!

  3. I like the street art, too. The thing that bothers me about your interview is that the reporters took something you said out of context and made it appear that you were saying something else. Of course, we know the media does this all the time. Still, it’s infuriating.

  4. I actually think the petitioners come off looking worse. Not one of them appears on camera, and the petition is basically mocked, the way it is presented on camera. Nobody appearing on camera seems upset about the art–people are merely stating their subjective opinions about a single work. So from an outsider’s POV, you don’t come off poorly, and I don’t think you hate the art! Still, a pretty poor piece of journalism, all the same. Your point on that stands strong.

    But I hope you’ve learned your lesson: you weren’t misquoted, just selectively edited. Out of context, but the meaning is accurate, unless you said you WOULD put it on your house. You should have known that TV news pieces only last a couple of minutes and have no space for thoughtful responses!

  5. BTW, Tomorrowman is funky and cool to look at, but I love the color-splattered dove. I’d put that on MY house!

  6. i truly love the art work around the town. people will always have a right to their opinon, but to change the words that someone has said to “better” a story is just wrong.

  7. Good point, TJC: He was not “misquoted” but rather taken out of context. Still, it’s reporters like that who give journalism a bad name. Hell, if he said, “I wet the bed until I was 12 years old,” he could have been quoted saying that. Should he? Absolutely not. What ever happened to the fact-checking process??

  8. Your instinct to turn the reporter down on first approach was spot on. But good hearted people try to see the best in others and in this case you were taken advantage of… which was unfortunate. I’ve seen this before and even experienced it myself so I can appreciate your disappointment when you realized they took the part of your interview they wanted to highlight for their agenda out of context. Sad. Really sad. But the truth of the matter is most of us know this happens and are suspect of most media coverage these days.

    Enjoying your photographs. Keep up the good work.

  9. Hello,

    I’m just wondering whether the building owners consented to the painting on their buildings. Does anyone know?

  10. Just read this in an article:

    “Portsmouth MFA’s Cathy Sununu says, “I love that piece. It’s called the Tomorrow Man, and he’s basically depicting 20th century man, which I think is exuberant and vibrant and energetic, and I think it’s really positive. If it were vandalism, I’d consider it defacement, but we’re a museum, we undertook the exhibition with permission from the private property owners.””


    So, I see no problem with the exhibits. I personally don’t like the way some of them look, but that is irrelevant; it is not my nor the neighbors place to tell others what to do with their property.

    What I do find appalling is that some people are spraying paintballs at the paintings, which is vandalism. The neighbors who went to the city officials – implying that they believe force is a proper way to deal with others, and that citizens don’t have a right to choose what is done with their property – don’t belong in the free state that is New Hampshire.

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