This is a lesson in bad use of imagery to get a point across. Ford and its engineering and design team and assembly workers who put together the Ford Fiesta ST must have been quite excited to get the call today from Car and Driver that the Ford Fiesta ST made their 10Best list for 2014 model year.
Surely they must have imagined their little Fiesta all dolled up by Car and Driver's expert car photographers looking all glamorous, and ready to take on the world. So, I am sure everyone associated with the production of the Fiesta ST must have rushed over to Car and Driver to see the glamor shots and read the article about their baby.
When they actually saw the picture at the top of the article about their baby, well they must have felt victims of Ashton Kushner's Punk'd.
The photo at the top of the article discussing the Fiesta's placement in Car and Driver's 10Best for the 2014 model year isn't a bad photograph. In fact, I like the photograph. It's just that it belongs at an exhibit honoring auto mechanics not as a photo honoring the car that hundreds of engineers, designers, and assembly line workers who put in years of har work to produce.
The image contains a Fiesta ST alright. But the ST is surrounded by auto mechanics, is sitting up on blocks, and is stripped of most of its innards. It's an image that recalls an old dig at Ford.
"What does Ford stand for?"
"Found On the Road Dead."
Are you serious? The other nine cars that were honored were dutifully portrayed in glitzy photography showing off their best looks. In this regard, the award for Ford goes from an honor to a cruel prank.
I remember Leslie Stahl telling a story about a piece she did for sixty minutes on the Reagan administration. I can't recall now what that piece was about, but from Stahl's telling it was meant to be a scathing criticism of Reagan's policies. Instead, she got a call from someone on the Reagan team, I believe he was Reagan's campaign manager. Instead of getting chewed out by the him, Stahl was thanked. Why?
It is a lesson in imagery. The Reagan team member thanked Stahl for the images she used in the piece. She used images of Reagan in very presidential situations, with the military, for example, in front of a flag, and other great presidential photo ops. The images, he told her, would stick with the audience more than the story itself. That's the power of images. It's why presidents and their team work so hard to control their image, to always have them at their best when in front of a camera.
It seems by now every journalist should understand the power of images. Journalists who work so closely with the best photographers should know this lesson even better. So, it makes you wonder, why did Car and Driver use the image of a broke down and stripped down Fiesta ST with one mechanic hovering over it and another on a creeper working under it? It's enough to make you think that their decision was controversial and this image was chosen to appease the dissenters.
But that's the kind of question this image will always raise. And it is unfair to the people behind the production of the vehicle supposedly being honored.