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Whitney Houston, Newark, N.J., 2012 (Christopher Dawson)

Behind The Scenes Of The Media Circus Spectacular

by Claire O'Neill
Nov 29, 2012

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Claire O'Neill

It all goes back to Martha Stewart. At least, that's who Christopher Dawson cites as the inspiration for his series, Coverage. In 2004, America's iconic "homemaker" had just been sentenced in an insider trading case, Dawson says.

"The media's attention to that case was enormous," he writes. "At the same time ... the situation in Iraq was rapidly disintegrating, and I couldn't reconcile that with the disproportionate attention the Stewart case received from the American press."

To be fair, it's kind of a chicken-and-egg situation: Does the media simply feed the audience's desire for celebrity news and a fascination with the abomination? Or does the media create and perpetuate that appetite?

"The biggest spectacle I've seen must have been in Los Angeles and Encino, Calif., on the occasion of Michael Jackson's memorial," says Dawson. "Hundreds of fans congregated ... but they seemed a small group compared to the media infrastructure and supporting police presence."

From the meta-observational standpoint of a photographer photographing photographers, Dawson's wry series encourages us to think twice about what we see in the news. To wonder: What's just outside of that frame?

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