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Opinion: How will world perceive Georgia’s new election rules?
Voting Bill
State Rep. Park Cannon, D-Atlanta, is placed into the back of a Georgia State Capitol patrol car after being arrested by Georgia State Troopers at the Georgia State Capitol Building in Atlanta, Thursday, March 25, 2021. Cannon was arrested by Capitol police after she attempted to knock on the door of the Gov. Brian Kemp office during his remarks after he signed into law a sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state elections that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

During a 45-year career in broadcast journalism and corporate communications locally and nationally, the subject of “optics” would often come up.

There’s the story, then what the story looks like — a visual thing and often powerful. 

I just saw an example reading about the passage of SB 202, aka the “controversial voting bill” signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp.

Two pictures stood out. Both seen locally but more importantly nationally. The first picture was Gov. Kemp signing the bill, surrounded by White, male legislators. Just White, male legislators.

The second picture was of Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon arrested for knocking on the governor’s door. Cannon, female and Black, was hauled away, literally, by two, White male troopers. She’s charged with two felonies.

Felony door knocking?

Regardless of how one feels about the actual legislation, this is the year 2021. How are these images perceived not only here in Georgia but across the nation. Perhaps ‘round the world?

A bunch of White guys signing a bill. A Black female legislator busted for knocking on a Capitol door (where she works) being hauled off by White cops. I think that’s why someone invented “deja vu.”

My news writing mentor Merv Block (CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite) taught me early on that a viewer’s perception is their reality. So as I write this, I wonder how these images are being perceived elsewhere in the world.

Brian Olson


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