Print folks — the ones who pour their souls into writing newspapers and magazines, the ones who craft profound essays for blogs, the ones who toil in government offices and conjure up grand speeches — like to believe that words matter still. But, mostly, they don’t.
The people who put together TV newscasts, as well as the best news photographers, have known this truism for a long time, but they’ve kept mostly quiet about it. Perhaps they don’t want to hurt the feelings of their colleagues, who still vainly cling to the belief that the written word can move hearts and minds.
But the fact remains that for voters, for citizens, words don’t matter nearly as much as pictures do.
Bev Oda, now relegated to the place where much-detested politicians go to get forgotten, learned the truth of this back in February of this year. Back then, the opposition and the media were literally chasing the Ontario Conservative MP for answers in one of the serial scandals in which she became ensnared.
Reuters’ Chris Wattie snapped the shot that would be seen by millions of Canadians: An unsmiling, unattractive Oda wearing shades, hiding out behind the Parliament buildings. Smoking a cigarette.