Finnish photographer Alison Buttigieg loves cats. The Internet loves cats. But these days Buttigieg hates the Internet because it’s lying about one of her cat photos.
It all started Feb. 11. Someone who knows her work as a wildlife photographer recognized a cheetah picture of hers online. That wasn’t necessarily a surprise — Buttigieg published the “remarkable” photo on her blog, Facebook and Instagram last November after it won an international award. But the flood of messages that started pouring in from strangers that day stunned her.
An intellectual property thief had stolen her photo, invented a feel-good back-story for it, and engineered a viral sensation — one that wasn’t exactly flattering to Buttigieg. The tall tale portrayed the three cheetahs in the photo as heartless killers, their impala prey as a self-sacrificial mother and Buttigieg as a fragile soul who sank into depression after documenting a feline feast.
“In the beginning I thought it was absolutely hilarious, even the trolling,” she told me in an email interview six days after the hoax spread. “But then it was suddenly really overwhelming when I realized there wasn’t much I could do.”
Buttigieg is an information technology consultant whose passion for animals and for wild places inspired a foray into photography. She has carried a camera on wildlife journeys around the world for 13 years and started taking the photographic aspect of her observations more seriously about four years ago.
“I see my photos as a means to spread awareness about wildlife and the need to protect them and their habitat,” she said.
Buttigieg has shot pictures on three continents — Africa, Asia and South America. Her favorite places include Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in Botswana and South Africa, and the Massai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. In September 2013, she was near the latter location, at the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, when she saw a family of cheetahs trap a lone impala.
Cats of all kinds fascinate Buttigieg because of their beauty and expressive faces. Cheetahs stand out in the felidae species for their speed, quirks and sounds. The guides at the conservancy knew she loved cheetahs, and a mother and two adolescents were near the camp during her visit.
Read the rest of the story at Medium.
Filed under: Blogging and Human Interest and People and Photography and Social Media and Technology and Travel and Wildlife
This is one photo of many posted by a young woman who had to have her foot amputated because of cancer. She kept the foot and now takes it with her as she journeys through Instagram life under the moniker “OneFootWander.”
Kristi Loyall explained the idea behind the foot and how it has helped her cope:
She has one twisted sense of humor. I like it.
Filed under: Just For Laughs and People and Photography and Social Media and Technology
I knew Lady Gaga had some West Virginia roots — she even gave the state a plug in her song “Born This Way” — but until today I didn’t know her Mom was a West Virginia University cheerleader.
That bit of history popped into my Facebook feed yesterday in the form of a picture of Mother Gaga in WVU cheerleading garb, and Lady Gaga herself confirmed it today by sharing the photo on Instagram. The family resemblance is obvious.
Filed under: Music and People and Social Media and Technology and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment
There are no cougars in Wayne County, W.Va. By official accounts, there are no cougars anywhere in wild, wonderful West Virginia. In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded in 2011 that the eastern cougar is no longer endangered because it is extinct.
But for a few days last month, a Prichard, W.Va., man named J.R. Hundley deceived a whole bunch of gullible people on Facebook into thinking he had seen one near his house. “I think he killed my [pit bull]! Something tore him up pretty bad,” Hundley wrote Dec. 16.
When asked by Facebook readers, Hundley divulged phony details about the origins of the picture. He implied that he took the photo on “my driveway up the hill to my house” on Lower Gragston Creek Road. When one reader voiced concern about a free-roaming mountain lion killing pets and livestock, Hundley even offered this reassurance about the one he never actually saw: “I was gone, came home and found him. He wasn’t mean at all!”
Nearly 1,600 people shared his warning about a puma on the prowl in the hills, and another 600 liked it. You could tell from the comments that locals wanted to believe it was true, if only to justify their unfounded fears that mountain lions are in the area. Some people spread rumors of their own.
“We saw one cross the road in Prichard a few years ago in front of us, but it was black,” Carrie Ann Bragg wrote. Kathy Baker Rice shared this tale: “I saw one on Bear Creek a few years ago, just about three miles from Buchanan, Ky., which is across the Big Sandy River from Prichard. Huge.”
Cara Nelson-Hall suggested that the mountain lion Hundley imagined was not alone. “They’re on Davis branch. We hear them,” she said. And Jim Reed cried conspiracy by state game officials. “I bet DNR released him out there, lol,” he said half-jokingly. “I would call them and ask them if they did and tell them to pay [you] for your pit bull.”
Appalachian Magazine bought into Hundley’s story, touting it and other alleged sightings of mountain lions in Appalachia under the headline “Mountain Lion Sighted in West Virginia.” Several readers told their own cougar tales in the comments of the magazine’s Facebook page and ridiculed the doubters.
“Anyone that thinks there are no panthers in West Virginia is a fool,” Opal Marcum said. “They are in Wayne County, Mingo County and Logan County for sure. Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they don’t see you.”
But discerning readers quickly pegged Hundley as a hoaxer. “Also look out for the notorious Sasquatch,” Travis Boone mocked. “He’s around too!!”
Some critics assumed that the picture was real and that Hundley edited a mountain lion into it. But as it turns out, the entire photo is real (along with a second one like it). Hundley just didn’t take it.
The photos were published on three Facebook pages, Hunting Trophy Trips, Oregon Outdoor Hunters and Oregon Outdoor Council. Oregon State University forestry student Hayden England saw the cougar March 10 while working in the field near Vida, Ore., and the McKenzie River.
Filed under: History and Hunting & Guns and Media and People and Social Media and West Virginia and Wildlife
I actually gave the question some thought before I changed my picture — a first for me and thus not something I do lightly — and again after he asked the question, so I thought I’d share my explanation here in addition to on his Facebook wall.
For me, a profile picture with the French colors superimposed on it makes a multifaceted statement:
• One of empathy with the people of France. I was in Washington on 9/11, within walking distance of the White House, one of the presumed potential targets of the plane that went down in Pennsylvania. I remember what it was like walking to the Metro at the end of that workday, the capital city all but empty except for military vehicles and armed soldiers. The terror was palpable.
• One of solidarity with the French government. However you decide to pursue and punish ISIS for this evil, I am behind you. (Hours ago, the French bombed some ISIS targets in Syria.)
• One of purpose for our president, lawmakers and military leaders. I want them to stop saying terror is “contained” and start committing the money and people necessary to do it.
• One of importance to my Facebook friends. As I mentioned, the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks on France mark the first time I’ve been motivated to change my Facebook profile picture for a cause. That has been intentional. Many things matter to me. I write about some of them on Facebook and on this blog. This particular historical event matters enough to also merit a simple, symbolic gesture that won’t change anything but will let people know the attacks have changed me.
Filed under: Blogging and Family and Government and Military and News & Politics and Social Media
Comments: 1 Comment
I’m totally jumping on the bandwagon of angry West Virginians rolling virtually toward Sheetz’s corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania. The cause: Mountain State pride in pepperoni rolls.
The outcry started Friday, when Rogers and Mazza’s Italian Bakery in Clarksburg, W.Va., announced on its Facebook page that Sheetz abruptly canceled the company’s contract to provide pepperoni rolls for 117 stores in West Virginia and other states. Worse, they lost the contract to a company outside West Virginia, the birthplace of the pepperoni roll.
“I would suggest and appreciate everyone writing this company with their displeasure on their decision,” Rogers and Mazza’s urged its fans — and they did.
Those complaints prompted the Charleston Gazette-Mail to run a story today. It caught my attention on Facebook, and here’s what I have to say to Sheetz after reading it:
UPDATE, July 30: Sheetz has caved to the pressure applied by West Virginia’s angry rednecks. Here’s what the company said in announcing that its Mountain State stores will sell West Virginia-made pepperoni rolls: “Our customers told us loud and clear that it is important to them to have those rolls provided and baked by a West Virginia company. I couldn’t be happier to have that feedback and we are committed to executing upon it.”
UPDATE, Aug. 17: Rogers and Mazza’s paid the price for biting the hand that fed it a contract for pepperoni rolls for years — the bakery lost the contract to another West Virginia-based competitor, Home Industry Bakery. “The company went through a thorough evaluation of West Virginia vendors and selected the best partner to supply all 49 stores in the state,” Sheetz announced.
Thank you, Rogers and Mazza’s for exposing a potential injustice at the hands of Sheetz. You took a hit to your pocketbook for West Virginia pride, and I, for one, appreciate it.
Filed under: Business and Food and Media and Social Media and West Virginia
Back in 2009, I started curating Capitol Hill tweets at my now-defunct blog, AirCongress. I called the feature “Hill Tweet News.” A year later, I became the editor of Tweet Watch Report for a company that had the marketing and technological resources and know-how to take the concept of Twitter curation to the next level.
Over the next two years, our team improved Tweet Watch and brainstormed ideas for expanding the editorial concept into other areas. None of those panned out, and we stopped publishing in December 2012. But three months later, blogger Michelle Malkin launched Twitchy and proved that curation by real people is a necessity for a platform as unwieldy as Twitter. In less than two years, Twitchy had achieved such success that she sold it to Salem Communications.
Flash forward to today and this news about Twitter: “Twitter’s editorial team (made of real, live humans) will define the big stories of the day and will package tweets, images and video to explain what’s going on. Those packages will be the primary unit of Twitter, and will be embeddable all over the Internet.”
In other words, it only took the media “experts” at Twitter six years to see in their own product a need that I recognized six years ago.
It’s nice to see this vision finally realized by the people who built the platform. But why do media companies, even innovative ones, always take years to wake up to reality?
Filed under: Media and Social Media
If you’re a manager at a Target department store and deliver a rousing pep talk to your staff before the store opens on Black Friday … you may be an enlightened redneck.
The entertaining redneck in this case is Scott Simms, a manager at the Target in Westminster, Md. His colleague Chole Frebertshauser captured the pep talk on film, and it’s making the rounds via YouTube to the tune of nearly 2.5 million views as of now.
Filed under: Business and Holidays and Movies and Social Media and Video
After watching a contentious election season back in 2008, I thought bloggers across the political spectrum might like to blow off some steam, so I tried to organize a friendly but potentially painful round of paintball for bloggers in the Washington, D.C., area. Here’s how I pitched it:
The response to the invitation was telling. Some conservatives bloggers expressed interest in the idea right away, but there were no takers on the left.
The most amusing feedback came from a liberal journalist who said he wasn’t interested because “I hate violence, even the sublimated kind.” That’s the psychobabble way of saying paintballers don’t just wanna have fun. They’re really expressing a desire to engage in bad behavior “by changing it into a form that is socially acceptable.”
It’s that kind of elitist ignorance of redneck culture that leads to embarrassing incidents like this:
That’s right, a Huffington Post reporter whose beat is to cover the police can’t tell the difference between earplugs like my wife wears to drown out my snoring and the rubber bullets that officers regularly use for riot control.
Filed under: Hunting & Guns and Media and News & Politics and Photography and Rednecks and Social Media
Seventeen years ago when my wife and I moved to Manassas, Va., this ink-stained wretch found himself in the heart of a newspaper boom town. With a population of less than 35,000 at the time, Manassas was the target audience of three local daily newspapers, the Manassas Journal Messenger, Potomac News and Prince William Journal. The Washington Post also had a small local bureau in the city.
The Internet revolution was in its infancy then, but as the news editor of Congressional Quarterly’s BillWatch legislative database, I had transitioned into the digital space and was an early convert to the gospel of digital media. I wanted to believe that daily print newspapers had a future but was skeptical. The move to Manassas gave me hope.
My hope for daily newspapers, at least as we old-timers know them in newsprint, died on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012. That was the last day of publication for the News & Messenger, the product of an Oct. 13, 2008, merger between the Journal Messenger and Potomac News.
World Media Enterprises, owned by Warren Buffet, who has been buying newspapers across America for two years, blamed the demise of the News & Messenger on bad business conditions. “We do not see a long-term viable way to maintain a daily news operation here,” the company said upon announcing the decision in mid-November.
So Manassas is starting the New Year without its own daily newspaper, ending an era that dates to at least 1869 when the Journal Messenger started publishing.
“We can only hope that the existing papers among us ratchet up their daily coverage of our community in our sudden absence,” the News & Messenger said in its farewell editorial.
My friend Mark Tapscott, who once served as editor of the Prince William Journal and who now serves as executive editor of the Washington Examiner that absorbed the Journal Newspapers in 2004, shared his thoughts with me on the closing of the News & Messenger. “The biggest puzzler here,” he said, “is how a county of 400,000 people doesn’t have sufficient demand to support at least one newspaper or website devoted to local news.”
The good news is that we may. While we in Manassas won’t have our own daily newspaper anymore, the larger Prince William County will have two weekly newspapers and two websites covering local news in the future.
Filed under: Advertising and Business and History and Media and News & Politics and Social Media
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