'PICTURE KILL': A Reuters Story

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Aug 06, 2006 12:06 PM

I'm prone to missing Saturday night stories because I'm usually away from my computer until late. Last night I missed a humdinger. Reuters photographer Adnan Hajj doctored a photo-- very, very badly-- adding smoke the the sky over Beirut with the use of a handy Photoshop tool. Here's the photo that ran on the Reuters wire last night:

 

See the symmetrical patterns in the smoke on the top left of the screen? Yep, so did everyone else. Jeff Harrell has a great, simple explanation of the manipulation, with visual aids.Others found cloning, not just in the smoke, but in the buildings.

Also on the story: Michelle Malkin, Hot Air, Little Green Footballs, Dan Riehl

Note: Um, what's up with Little Green Footballs right now? I'm getting the below text, accompanied by a picture of Godzilla holding a stop sign (trying to put up a screen shot) Hijacked?:

The absence of this page could lead to paranoia which is a mental illness that creates the illusion that any accusation directed against another is necessarily true and unfalsifiable! Therefore, the paranoid has no space on the Internet which is, by definition, a civilizational achievement. Within this spirit, we, therefore, are the right to claim that the page, has no space within human civilization.

Finally, what has inspired us to generate this error is our concern to inform the reader of the true mission of LFG.

The Reuters wire eventually killed the photo around dawn (H/t to Michelle for the screenshot):

 

And put up a corrected version with this note: "ATTENTION EDITORS: THIS IS A CORRECTED FILE OF LBN20. REUTERS HAS ISSUED A KILL OF THE PREVIOUS VERSION."

Strangely enough, the picture kill link seems to have disappeared from Yahoo! News, but the corrected picture remains. There also seems to be no acknowledgement of the doctored photo on Yahoo!News' front page or photo page.The Reuters front page also appears not to have any acknowledgement of the incident, despite the fact that they've suspended the photographer involved.

This is classic MSM. Make a mistake, correct it quietly and without much comment or explanation, and make the evidence of the mistake disappear. Both the Yahoo News front page and photo page should have a front-and-center acknowledgement, explanation, and apology for running the fake photo.

I understand they're not Yahoo's photos, but folks trust Yahoo as a distributor of such information, so they need to make it clear they know it happened, and that they're doing their best to prevent its happening again.

Reuters, obviously, should be doing the same instead of letting Ynet news tell the story, especially considering just how many of their photos Hajj has been supplying during the Hezbollah/Israel conflict.

If the acknowledgements are there and I'm missing them, let me know in comments. If they're there, they aren't prominent enough.

NOTE: We carry Reuters photos on Townhall, but I haven't been able to find the doctored photo in our Photos section.

UPDATE: Reuters cans the photographer, but offers this bogus excuse:

“The photographer has denied deliberately attempting to manipulate the image, saying that he was trying to remove dust marks and that he made mistakes due to the bad lighting conditions he was working under,” said Moira Whittle, the head of public relations for Reuters.
Even I could tell that photo was manipulated and I have exactly zero graphics experience. Looks to me like Reuters should be looking for some new photo editors, too.

UPDATE 9:27 p.m.: The digging has begun, and Michelle Malkin notes more smoke-debunking of Hajj's photos. Someone's got a serial "dust-mark-remover" on their hands.