Tarnished images

Jack Kelly:


"There is no graver breach of Reuters' standards for our photographers than the deliberate manipulation of an image," said Reuters global picture editor, Tom Szlukovenyi.

The cloning in the photographs was clumsy, which suggests that Mr. Hajj should not take all the blame for their distribution. What is the point of having photo editors if they cannot spot such obvious frauds?

This is especially so because another stringer for Reuters, Issam Kobeisi, may be involved in a staged photograph. Mr. Kobeisi transmitted July 22 a photo of a woman wailing outside the wreckage of what the caption said was her apartment building.

A British Web logger (Drinking From Home) noticed that on Aug. 5, AP photographer Hussein Malla transmitted a photo of the very same woman (she has a scar on her left cheek and a mark under her right eye) wailing in front of an entirely different bombed building. If she isn't the most unlucky multiple property owner in Beirut, then the photo most likely was staged.

What is significant about Mr. Hajj is not the two photographs Reuters admits he doctored, but the doubt it casts on the veracity of the other images he's transmitted.

Mr. Hajj was among those whose dramatic photos of dead children being pulled from the wreckage of a building the Israelis bombed in the village of Qana July 30 helped turn world opinion against Israel. Dr. Richard North, a British Web logger (EU Referendum), thinks these photographs were staged, because rescue workers clearly carrying the same corpse are wearing different gear in different photographs. The time stamps on the photos suggest they were taken hours apart, he said.

Other Web loggers have noted that while some of corpses allegedly retrieved from the site were covered with dust (as one would expect from a collapsed building), others were not. Some apparently were in rigor mortis; others not.


This is a major scandal. Reuters has been transmitting Hezbollah propaganda. We need to know how much, whether photo editors were complicit, and what Reuters intends to do to keep this from happening again.

And if Mr. Hajj staged photographs at Qana, he wasn't alone. Stringers for AP and Agence France Press transmitted the same images.

It's often been said that truth is the first casualty in war. But it shouldn't be the news media that kills it.

What we are seeing is the unraveling of Hezballah's victim offensive and we are discovering how the terrorist have infiltrated news organizations to manipulate not just photos, but also the news itself. Lebanon is nor the first place they have infiltrated the media battlespace. The stringers have done dimilar things in Iraq, where an AP reporter ws given a Pulitzer for a picture that suggest he was told to be at the location to film a murder and he clearly did not inform authorities, which makes him an accessory to those crimes and the Pulitzer committe has awarded this conduct. Stringers in Iraq have also been responsible for bogus civilian casualty reports also. Apparently finding an honest Arab striger is a difficult tsk, but their activities have put the credibility of the media in play in their war coverage.


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