Monday, April 10, 2006

Faked Photo roundup 
The National Journal takes a look at the problems faced by news media photo editors in sorting out and doing quality control on photographs sent to them by stringers in war zones.


The photo on the New York Times webpage of an old Pakistani man standing next to a "U.S. missile" which turned out to be an (obvious) old artillery shell.

The faked photos of British troops abusing Iraqi detainees that featured trucks that didn't even exist in theater at the time.

Photos of "giant spiders" sent by Allah to attack American troops (though to be fair the western media didn't seem to fall for that one.)

Absent from the discussion are the so-called "white phosphorus victim" photos from Fallujah - photos which have been thoroughly debunked.

Also absent from the discussion are a series of photographs from a European pornography site depicting soldiers wearing dime-store surplus and in nonregulation baseball-player face camo raping middle-eastern-looking women - a ruse that fooled at least one Boston democratic city alderman and hoodwinked the editors of the Boston Globe.
A lot of problematic photos - such as photos in which people seem to be performing for the camera - are judgement calls. For instance, ALL demonstrations are performances for news cameras. That doesn't mean we shouldn't publish photos of demonstrations.

Consider these examples from Countercolumn alone:

Photographs showing an image of an E-4 is referred to as an "officer."

Photos portraying marines were captioned as depicting soldiers, and vice versa.

What's depressing to me is that it's obvious that none of these news editors "get it." The problem isn't the challenge of subjective news judgement. The problem is basic competence. Many of these front page embarrassments could have been averted if they had simply shown the photos to someone with some reasonable level of military experience before publishing them. Apparently, this very simple process of fact-checking - one which I would have heretofore assumed was de rigeur in quality news organizations - simply doesn't occur to them.

Yes, news organization demographics are that inbred.

News organizations interested in gaining credibility in covering the war need to reach out to the veteran community. Otherwise, the veterans will reach out to them and slap them in the face, via blogs.

And they'll deserve every blow.

Heck, they're like a bunch of dogs. You have to housebreak them, but the only way they will ever learn is if you hold their faces into the mess they make on the floor and pound them on the ass with their newspaper and say NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!

Splash, out


It would be nice if they'd just return to the ethos of "If your mama says she loves you, check it out"
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