Blog Consensus: Reuters Photographer Photoshopped Beirut 'Burning Buildings' Photo (UPDATED: Reuters Admits)

UPDATE: As commenter "Sua Sponte 75" noted, Reuters has issued a "Picture Kill Advisory" (link is to Michelle Malkin, as original PKA appears to have been moved) and has admitted altering the photo. Drudge is currently linking to the story at the very top of his page. To the extent that an organization like Reuters cares about such things, it appears that it has been humiliated.

Commenter "Ten7s" asks a reasonable question -- "Makes me wonder how much deft photo manipulation gets printed in the media." Indeed.
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Every once in a while you want to tell yourself that media bias is accidental and not deliberate, a sort of "they can't help themselves" phenomenon.

This is NOT one of those times.

Here is a photo published by Reuters that is captioned, "Smoke billows from burning buildings destroyed during an overnight Israeli air raid on Beirut's suburbs August 5, 2006. Many buildings were flattened during the attack. (Adnan Hajj/Reuters)":

Numerous bloggers and others have pointed out that the image has been heavily photoshopped. Some of them include:

- Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs, who appears to have been the first to report it
- Michelle Malkin
- The Jawa Report
- AllahPundit at Hot Air
- The Shape of Days
- Rob at Left & Right

Among the important points being made:

  • The photoshopping includes copying and pasting smoke to make it seem as if there is more of it, and the copying of other images to make the picture appear to have more destruction taking place.
  • The "photojournalist" is the one and only Adnan Hajj, who was accused of taking shots of the same corpse of a child with different people carrying it last week after the Qana bombing and building collapse.
  • The photo was put forth for opinion as to its legitimacy at Sportsshooter.com, and the verdict is not only that it's a fake, but an embarrassingly incompetent one at that. One commenter said, "If your (sic) going to ruined (sic) your career, at least work on the photo a little longer than two minutes."
  • Several bloggers are questioning the legitimacy of some of previous Hajj photos.

The incident may mark a new low in photographic news-twisting to make a political point.

This post only scratches the surface of what is being discovered, and of what will continue to develop. Go to the blogs cited for more details.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.