Pulitzer Prize–winning photographer Damon Winter has been covering the contentious health-care town-hall meetings for the New York Times, and has observed that the most rowdy participants seem to be quite aware that their antics are being watched on the national stage. They welcome the attention, but are also wary of it, he tells the Columbia Journalism Review:
I don’t think we were necessarily warmly greeted as journalists covering the event. Especially a few times, once people found out I was working for The New York Times, I would get really kind of nasty remarks and these kind of things that were making assumptions that I myself or we as a newspaper had preconceived notions about them. Another photographer working for the Times that day, a freelance photographer, Jessica Kourkounis, got pushed by an audience member once they realized she was working for The New York Times.
Damon photographed the Arlen Specter town hall where the Pennsylvania senator was confronted by the apoplectic Craig Anthony Miller. His image of the moment made the front page of the paper. We're a little confused by why this kind of coverage — from a newspaper that they feel isn't normally inclined to listen to them — would not be welcomed by these agitators. Don't they want to get heard? Or do they not want people to listen too closely to what they're saying?