Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bloggers' revenge

Reuters must be feeling it, having been slapped into place by bloggers.

With acres of biased media coverage of the conflict, bloggers have struck again with Reuters feeling the full force.

No one had ever heard of a Lebanese photographer working for Reuters, Adnan Hajj, until earlier this week when he doctored some pictures to give the impression that Israeli bombings were worse than they actually were.

His work is now the most viewed on Youtube and he's the most searched for item on blog tracking site Technorati.

It was all smoke and mirrors. He added a darker, thicker plume of smoke, some extra flares from an Israeli fighter and pressed send. The images were used around the world, but like so often with the Lebanese-Israeli conflict they were not telling the whole truth.

Reuters, of course, did not discover the truth until after the pictures had been printed everywhere. No word on why that was so, but they won't be using him again.

Bloggers who discovered the fakes kicked off a campaign around the world causing Reuters to admit its error and fire the photographer.

Adnan Hajj's pictures have previously run in august journals like the New York Times as well in other places around the world.

It's as much a story about the manipulation by the mainstream media of images (be it war zones or celebrity waistlines) as it is about bloggers, but it is another major blogger scalp.

Having already helped to derail John Kerry in the US presidential elections and questioned the CBS story that President Bush had received favourable treatment in the US National Guard.

One of the bloggers behind revealing that there was little truth to the CBS story was Charles Johnson, who runs a site called Little Green Footballs. Johnson was back in action again this time one of the first to notice the Lebanese pictures were doctored, which was posted the news on his site, which was then seen by Reuters a day later.

Hajj told Reuters that all he was trying to do was remove a speck of dust and fix the lighting in the photos. This must have been why he added extra flares from an Israeli F-16.

For more on this story, you can find it here.


At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But this is hardly new is it? War photography is littered with examples of staged pictures, doctored shots and manipulated images. Think of the shot of the American soldiers hauling up the star spangled banner- staged. The Japanese soldier caught at the very moment of death- staged. What's so different about this guy darkening a smoke plume and doctoring things a bit? Are we still labouring under the pretence that journalism is always accurate? We know when we're being fed propaganda these days don't we?

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Gordon said...

Yes pictures have been doctored before, but not always passed off as the real thing.

If you're talking about the Pulitzer Prize winning 'Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima' in 1945, that was staged. Everyone knows that and no one has said otherwise, its a great iconic picture.

The Lebanese thing is not great photograhy it's an everyday image of war that has been doctored and then passed off.


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