Is the more than 100-year-old profession of photojournalism going to be destroyed in just a few short weeks?
David D. Perlmutter, journalism professor and author of "Visions of War, Photojournalism and Foreign Policy," writes in Editor and Publisher that he is alarmed by what is happening to his beloved profession.
In twenty years of researching and teaching about the art and trade and doing photo-documentary work, I have never witnessed or heard of such a wave of attacks on the people who take news pictures and on the basic premise that nonfiction news photo- and videography is possible.
Perlmutter doesn't exactly know what's happening.
I'm not sure, however, if the craft I love is being murdered, committing suicide, or both.
One quick question: Is it appropriate for photographers who are members of a group called Artists Against the War (or translated via google) to be sent into war zones to document the events as they transpire? And, even if Mr. Qusini were not a member of this group, would his objectivity still be called into question by his association with them?
I mean, can we expect someone of that nature to be non-partial in their coverage of events?
Can we trust that they'd be able to tell us the truth about something they're wholly opposed to?
I'd certainly like to hear what you think, whether you're an interested observer, or are a wire photographer. Do memberships in groups like this affect the coverage you would expect from current events?
KOLKATA, India - A group of Indian television
journalists gave a man matches and diesel to help him commit suicide in
order to get dramatic footage which was later broadcast on the news,
police said on Thursday.
man died from severe burns to his body in hospital in Gaya town in the
eastern state of Bihar on Aug. 15, India's Independence Day.
of the man, screaming and writhing in pain as he ran with his back on
fire, was aired on several television channels. Police identified the
man as Manoj Mishra.
"We have seized footage clearly showing a
group of journalists handing over matches and some inflammable
substance -- which we later verified to be diesel -- to the victim,"
acting Gaya police chief P.K. Sinha told Reuters by telephone.
who worked as a delivery man, was upset over what he said was a large
sum of money owed to him by a state-run dairy farm whose milk he
transported to customers, police said.
Look at any of the casualty figures coming out of Lebanon in the
world's major media organizations, and you'll see something very close
The Lebanese death toll, meanwhile, rose to 842 when rescue workers
pulled 32 bodies from the rubble in the southern town of Srifa, target
of some of Israel's heaviest bombardment in the 34-day conflict. The
figure was assembled from reports by security and police officials,
doctors and civil defense workers, morgue attendants as well as the
The Israeli toll was 157, including 118 soldiers, according to its military and government.
What is missing from this death toll (which CBS News has now quietly
removed from this web report) are the casualties sustained by
Libanoscopie, a Lebanese Christian website, quotes a military expert to dismiss Hezbollah's claims of victory over Israel (this is the site that accused Hizballah of putting handicapped children in the building at Qana, then drawing Israeli fire by firing rockets from the roof).
The site is published in French. I've translated below:
Hezbollah's Fictional Victory in Lebanon
After 34 days of fighting, Hezbollah's secretary general [Hasan Nasrallah] is claiming victory, his supporters strolling to their hearts' content on the still smoking ruins of what were, a month ago, a hamlet, a village, a city; now a district where multi-story buildings have been reduced to powder, devastated by a wind that destroyed the major part of its existence.
I just ran across an interesting photograph on the AP wire. It would appear that this is a photograph of a Pakistani protest in support of Hezbullah and Hamas (and most likely, therefore, a protest against Israel and the United States).
There is something strange about the photograph, though—notice the highlighted poster, prominently displaying what appears to be a dead child. Where did this photograph come from? It doesn't appear to match any of the civilians killed in combat so far, or at least, it doesn't match any that have come across the wires.
Are there any Arabic specialists out there able to enlighten us on what the text to the right of the picture says? Is this a poster which claims to be the result of an "evil Zionist" carpet-bombing?
We're left to guess, unfortunately.
Our photographer doesn't seem to keen on informing us about the contents of the posters, other than a blanket statement describing the protest exactly as I did above. If anyone else has any information about this photograph or poster, be sure to let me know about it.
Caption: Women activists of a Pakistani religious party chant slogans during a rally to show their support with Hezbollah and Hamas, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2006 in Karachi, Pakistan. The protestors also condemned what they see as U.S. and Israeli aggression. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
Thanks to some intrepid digging from commenters Lancelot and Harris at EU Referendum, another video of the events at Qana has been found. This is one that I have never seen before and really shows what was going on that day. It is truly a must see for anyone that believes that the photos at Qana were staged. It completely debunks the "our photographers do not set up photos" and "the rescuers were not holding up the children for photos" claims.
Believe it or not, it is a link from Wikipedia of all places. Here's the direct link to the video. If you can't the video to load through the direct link, go to Wikipedia and scroll down to External Links (Resources) and click on the first video listed. The video is approx 13 minutes long and does have a good bit of anchorperson commentary in Arabic. Also be advised that some of the images are graphic...
Pay close attention to this footage...
At 0:53 there is new footage of Mr. Green Helmet serving as director of the scene. He's standing over some victims and gesturing to someone off camera. One thing is for sure - he is in NO HURRY in this footage.
At 8:29 we see Mr. Green Helmet taking off for his run with the little girl in the multicolored pants. What makes this interesting is Mr. Green Helmet is standing still with the child, then turns and starts off at a quick pace. As Mr. GH turns, a cameraman crosses behind him. It is obvious that Mr. GH was posing with the child for the cameraman prior to his "run".
Caption: The body of a man lays on a road in southern Lebanon... shortly after gunfire was heard in the area. Israel began slowly pulling forces out ... the declared ceasefire has already been tested by various skirmishes between combative forces. (AP Photo/Riza Ozel, Anatolia)
When is a man considered something more than a man? It would seem that the bar is set infinitely high when dealing with Hezbullah, as I've tried to illustrate previously.
This photograph offers another prime example: The caption mentions nothing about the body lying next to the car, other than identifying it as a "body of a man."
Does the photographer bother to note that the "body" is wearing camouflage, and carrying what appears to be two AK-47's? Although to a casual observer, this would seem to indicate that the body belongs to a Hezbullah militant, our intrepid photographer doesn't seem interested in pursuing that line of thought... along with any thought of reminding the reader that only one side is really instigating skirmishes.
Many thanks to FR's PajamaTruthMafia for pointing this out!
Yesterday I quipped that I found Gatorade's new energy Drink
"self-Propel," after discovering a series of three pictures by Reuters
photographer Zohra Bensemra. In those photos, a mysteriously mobile
bottle of water appears and disappears beside an elderly injured woman
that Bensemra said was waiting to be rescued, and was made to appear
The moving bottle and other suspicious elements in the photos lead
me to believe that this series of photos, like so many already
discovered coming from Arab Muslim stringers in Lebanon, were quite
The curious composition of Bensemra's photos continued today, as this one was, err, unearthed in Yahoo's Photostream:
"This is an important moment, that the Palestinian resistance must seize. It benefited from [a similar moment] at the beginning of the Al-Aqsa [Intifada], when the West Bank and Gaza spoke the Lebanese language, after they had long been immersed in American and Israeli illusions. And following [the Al-Aqsa Intifada], the incomplete [Israeli] withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was carried out.
What do you know, but it would seem that today, the wires are teeming with photographs of Palestinian "youths" (all men in their 20's, from the looks of it) throwing stones at IDF soldiers. I haven't seen any photographs of Israeli troops yet, but expect to see the standard formulaic shot of a Palestinian "youth" throwing a stone at a heavily-armored Israeli tank. I'd also expect that we won't see any photographs of the terrorists who are doing any of the actual shooting at the Israelis, but we're used to not seeing that by now, right?
According to Reuters photographer Zohra Bensemra, an elderly injured
woman lies injured in the ruins of her house, awaiting rescue as
Let's for a moment try to look past the staging elements that we've become accustomed to searching for over the past weeks.
Ignore for a moment the fact that a wounded elderly woman in a
bombed out building is unlikely to be in the kind of physical condition
needed to drag several pristine sofa pillows through the rubble and
make a bed out of them. Look past the fact that she, in her weakened
condition, has found a nearly spotless black blanket in the fine gray
dust of a bombed out building to cover her legs against the 80 degree
cold. Ignore the conveniently-placed bottled water she somehow found
intact and had for the middle photo only.
An Israeli soldier flashes a V for victory sign after receiving orders to stop firing into south Lebanon, along the Israel-Lebanon border, in the early hours. Faced with another Middle East crisis, American Jews have rallied to collect donations for Israel, although some in the community argue that funds should also be sent to war-ravaged Lebanon for aid its reconstruction.(AFP/David Furst)
And on the right, we're treated to:
Lebanese children sit atop a pick up truck as they flash V-signs and wave Hezbollah flags as hundreds of cars with displaced Lebanese returning to southern Lebanon, wait in line to pass the destroyed bridge of Zahrani that was attacked by Israeli warplanes during the month-long operations, south of the port city of Sidon, Monday, Aug. 14, 2006. Thousands of cars flooded Lebanon's bombed out highways heading south within an hour of a U.N. cease-fire taking hold, and Lebanese army troops scrambled to repair roads in time for the deluge of refugees returning home. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
Ok. So there's nothing unusual about having a war in which both sides claim victory, and in a conflict that's as long-running as this one, I don't think we can expect anything different. But notice the differences in these photos: The Israelis are portrayed as dark, ominous invaders claiming victory, presumably against a civilian populace.
of the photographer's comment (it appears that Denton's original is
gone, but that another commenter reposted it within his own comment;
scroll down to "Andy Levin Fri Aug 11 09:54:08")
i have been working in lebanon since all this started,
and seeing the behavior of many of the lebanese wire service
photographers has been a bit unsettling. while hajj has garnered a lot
of attention for his doctoring of images digitally, whether guilty or
not, i have been witness to the daily practice of directed shots, one
case where a group of wire photogs were coreographing the unearthing of
bodies, directing emergency workers here and there, asking them to
position bodies just so, even remove bodies that have already been put
in graves so that they can photograph them in peoples arms. these
photographers have come away with powerful shots, that required no
manipulation digitally, but instead, manipulation on a human level, and
this itself is a bigger ethical problem.
Last week, I documented here the way CNN leaned over backwards for balance in a story. In the wake of the Seattle Jewish Center shooting, it equated the fear of Jewish-Americans of similar incidents . . . with the fear of Hezbollah supporters of being unfairly accused.
Although it wasn't nearly so egregious, Fox News Channel's Anita Vogel [seen here in a file photo] just engaged in some over-reaching herself in the name of balance. She narrated an otherwise solid segment on 'fauxtography' and other ways in which the media and Hezbollah supporters manipulate the news. The segment included an interview with star blogger Charles Johnson, founder of Little Green Footballs, who played a key role in outing the smoky Beirut-skyline bit of fauxtography.
But then, searching for balance where there really is little or none to be had, Vogel claimed that the Israeli government also manipulates the news:
"But we need to keep in mind, there are other ways foreign governments control the media. The Israeli government exercises control over the media during wartime, like prohibiting them from reporting on real-time rocket strikes and places in northern Israel where officials are visiting due to safety concerns."
Lebanese civil defense rescuers, try to remove two blanket-wrapped
bodies, found trapped under debris and concrete of the destroyed
buildings, attacked late Monday by Israeli airstrike, in the southern
Beirut suburb of Chiah, Lebanon, Tuesday Aug. 8, 2006. The raid on the
Muslim southern suburb next to a Christian neighborhood killed at least
15 people, police officials said. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
The bodies were found already wrapped in blankets under the debris of the building.
An AP article white washes a Lebanese
Civil Defense worker bloggers suspect of disseminating Hezbollah
propaganda. And they quote a colleague who apparently doesn't have any
concerns about sharing information with Hezbollah to back him up. From the article:
Twenty-eight bodies were recovered — more than half of them children.
Interesting, given that said Civil Defense worker evidently told the Lebanese press on July 30th:
The bodies of 37 children were among those recovered from under the rubble of dozens of a building which collapsed after the bombardment, said Salam Daher, the civil defense chief in the region.
It's important to remember that photographs don't necessarily have to be modified to be propaganda. Consider this one, sent out by the Associated Press from their coverage of the London protests.
Notice how the photograph was taken from a low angle? The photographer clearly intended to present a "David vs. Goliath" scenario, with the United States predictably being shoe-horned into Goliath's role. (It's comforting to see that ANSWER has already modified their protest to be against the "US/Israeli war.") Who fills the shoes of the righteous David? Why, of course—Hezbullah does!
I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of this photo, as it's much more "emotion-filled" than the one taken moments before.
I look forward to continuing with my hunt for photographic propaganda.
Putting aside more conspiratorially-minded critics of the mainstream
media, genuine practical concerns and mounting evidence suggest
Western media has been co-opted by Hezbollah in Lebanon to a
significant agree. So much so, in fact, that it may be unable to paint
an accurate picture of the current conflict.
The two year old image at right is from a Reuters video of
Palestinian terrorists escaping from an action in Israel with the aid
of a UN van. Video here.
The decision by America's MSM not to publish it at the time may
represent press bias, or that its concern for American's right to know
is somewhat selective. However, it also serves to make another
Service organizations like the UN and the Red Cross often rely on
local individuals to flesh out their staffs. Obviously, there are areas
of the world where it's difficult to tell the good guys from the bad
and sometimes the bad guys may represent the majority of the local
population. Such may be the case in Southern Lebanon and it invites the
kind of co-optation witnessed above.
With the MSM having decided to rely heavily on local stringers in
covering the Israeli Hezbollah conflict in Southern Lebanon, their
coverage appears to have fallen prey to manipulation by a terrorist
group, or at least its propaganda machine.
It is certainly true that a picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to news photographs, and it’s especially true of news photographs from war zones.
One of the famous photos from the war was a 1968 Eddie Adams photo for the Associated Press showing a general shooting a Viet Cong fighter in the head with a pistol on a Saigon street. That picture became the left’s rally poster for American withdrawal from Vietnam. Adams won the Pulitzer in 1969 for his Vietnam photos, but he regretted the unintended consequences to his dying day. As he wrote in Time magazine, "The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths."
The fauxtography scandal is blowing out of control as proof after proof rolls in how much of the self-described photojournalism coming out of Lebanon is illegitimate. If you're a blogger (or are reading some) covering the story, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll include a link in this roundup. And of course, you can link in the comments as well. Comments are now open to unregistered users.
UPDATE 6:25. After an overnight hardware failure, NB is back up and running. The links will begin momentarily.
UPDATE 6:38. Snapped Shot is another blog worth checking out. Keep those links coming, folks!
UPDATE 7:05. Via NB reader Geepers comes this link to a German TV news show proving that the infamous Salam Daher, aka "greenhelmetguy," is a stage manager for Hezbollah. The video shows him rehearsing the removal of a body from an ambulance and giving directions to the camera operator.
That truth is the first casualty of war has been borne home by the proliferating 'fauxtography' scandal of photographs of the current Middle East crisis doctored or staged so as to portray Israel in the worst possible light. At this point, can we look at any image from the area without a good dose of doubt?
Take this morning's report on the Today show. NBC's Richard Engel, in Tyre, Lebanon, reported that:
"The fighting has made humanitarian relief efforts almost impossible. Israel has cut roads and attacked vehicles, isolating Hezbollah and everyone else."
This was followed by a clip of the unidentified individual pictured here. Judging by his words and accent, he might have been a Red Cross official. He asserted:
"Lots of people have died because they just couldn't make it to a hospital in time. Ambulances clearly marked with the Red Cross were hit right in the middle of the roof of the car. The Red Cross stands for protection and neutrality. This should not have happened."
It seems some in the legacy media are entering into that next phase
of narrative manipulation—a redefining of terms in order to 1) provide
revisionary cover for its ideological fellow travelers, and 2) to
fabricate and then facilitate a bandwagon effect. For instance, The New York Times this morning editorializes on the Lamont victory this way:
rebellion against Mr. Lieberman was actually an uprising by that rare
phenomenon, irate moderates. They are the voters who have been unnerved
over the last few years as the country has seemed to be galloping in a
deeply unmoderate direction.
An “uprising” of “moderates”? Come now. Lamonts’ supporters are to
moderates what Jeffrey Dahmer was to gourmands: just because they
believe themselves to be the arbiters of political taste doesn’t make
them anything more than simple partisan cannibals. And I doubt very
much many of his supporters would even identify themselves
as moderates—though if they believe adopting the label will help them
regain power or take control of the Democratic party, they’ll almost
certainly suck it up and wear it in the months and years to come. The
ends justify the means, after all—and the New York Times has
shown itself willing to equate the Kossacks with Bill Clinton
Democrats. That is, they’ve signaled their willingness to help the
netroots take control of the party (see the new Kossack directive for
completing the purge here)—and
the plan is to do so by massaging the narrative and finding labels for
the players that strike just the right chords with Americans who don’t
follow politics all too closely.
Bloggers—and to a much lesser extent some media outlets—have paid
considerable attention to specific examples of media manipulation in
the war being fought between Hezbollah and the IDF in Lebanon and
Israel, but we seem be under-covering the overall framing of the
media's coverage, particularly when it comes to the subject matter
chosen for coverage.
This comes into sharp relief when contrasted against the coverage
we've become used to from the war in Iraq, particularly as it relates
to the media coverage allowed and provided by two different
insurgencies in Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iraq's predominately Sunni
In Iraq, we’ve become somewhat used to embedded reporters reporting
from both sides of the conflict with a fairly wide latitude to operate.
Stringers, both print media and photographers, have occasionally
embedded within the insurgency, providing coverage from ambushes and
sniper's nests alike. The insurgents themselves often seem to be media
hungry, filming operations themselves and often releasing the tapes to
the media or producing them on DVDs for public consumption in Iraq and
throughout the Middle East.
By and large, the vast majority of video reporting allowed and
encouraged by the Iraqi insurgency is combat-related. IED ambushes are
particularly popular, often released as montages set to Islamist music
as propaganda videos. The Iraqi insurgents have often seemed intent on
portraying themselves as rebel forces actively waging a war for the
people, whether or not the people would always agree.
Hezbollah, however, seems to be fighting a different kind of media war.
It's unquestionable that something bad happened in Qana, Lebanon recently. Was it a massacre of innocent civilians, collateral damage, or a Hezbollah set-up?
It's starting to seem as though it was a combination of all three. The Washington Post's Jefferson Morley, Aziz P, and Ace are some of the bloggers beginning to raise this point. I've excerpted some of their arguments below. If you see any counter-arguments, post them as a comment or email them to me so I can include all sides.
UPDATE 14:25. Dan Riehl theorizes on how Hezbollah might have staged the casualties. Read on past the jump for an excerpt.
UPDATE 14:48. Power Line argues further that Arab stringers for MSM organizations are staging photos.
UPDATE 15:17. Ace has more possibly staged pix, including a mannequin improbably standing upright sporting a wedding dress.