New perspective on CAN 1 Two sides of the story

When I was working on the first C&N assignment, Two sides of the story, I made several abortive attempts at different story pairs. One of these was about whether or not plastic “poop bags” should be used to dispose of dogshit, and I discarded it because I was frustrated to find that my photos didn’t offer the opposing storylines adequately by themselves and texts were vital to present the two arguments. This morning I realised I now understand something I didn’t understand then – that an important point of the assignment was that images can have different meanings/interpretations in different contexts. I now see that I could actually have used an identical set of images for both viewpoints, as demonstrated below, using text to guide the viewer towards a different set of conclusions in each case.

Story 1. Why dog owners should bag up their dogshit

1: If they don’t, it lies in wait to ruin the day of unsuspecting passers-by who tread in it.
2: As the dogshit spreads, more and more of the pavement is covered with a potentially toxoplasmosis-causing biohazard which people then tread into their homes.
3: Bagging it up prevents this danger.
4: It can then be safely disposed of.

Story 2. Why dog owners shouldn’t bag up their dogshit

1: Dogshit is biodegradable; plastic bags are not.
2: If left unbagged, it soon dries out and becomes inert.
3: Bagging it up prevents the natural process of biodegradation taking place.
4: Bagged-up dogshit goes to landfill, where even so-called biodegradable bags may not actually break down.

I am also not concerned now (as I would have been at the time I undertook the assignment) that the third image doesn’t quite fit comfortably with either storyline, the split in the poop bag somewhat undermining both statements. Now I like the slight feeling of unease and doubt that the discrepancy introduces. However, this particular story pair still feels more like propaganda than storytelling so I would still reject it today.