Photo fake: When will they ever learn…?

Charles Johnson — who helped expose the fake CBS memos that brought Dan Rather down — has done it again, showing how a Reuters photographer (clumsily) faked a photo in Beirut yesterday to add more smoke to the skyline. This time, it didn’t take the news organization 11 days to respond; Reuters pulled the photo, suspended the photographer, Adnan Hajj, and apologized just now. If you’re going to use the tools of technology to tell, you’d better learn that there are people out there who are better at the tools than you are. Count this as an ass, fact-checked.

  • Now if we can get them to admit their part in the Qana fraud, Reuters might again be a respectable service.

  • Kat

    I think that same fraud photographer was in Qana.

  • Ravo

    Reuters might again be a respectable service.

    The only attention I’d again pay it is to boycott any media using it’s product.

    Doctored photo – tip of the iceberg?

    REUTERS employee issues ‘Zionist pig’ death threat,7340,L-3256534,00.html

  • Bill K.

    Jeff: I find this post quite disingenuous.

    Spin and deception are not new phenomena that arose from the development of technology. It just makes it easier.

    Still images by their very nature distort the conveyance of the event. The fact that only certain images are selected for prominent display introduces another bias. Also, the picture editor might be prompting the photographers to bring home the most dramatic image in order to catch the readers’ attention. Newspaper photos have been altered even in the days of wet chemistry.

    It’s important to keep this bias in mind when viewing any reportage from any media. It’s called keeping a healthy skepticism against media that seek to draw attention by creating buzz. (It’s interesting that you call your blog “buzzmachine” and not “truthmachine.”)

    What do you think the photographer’s intent was?

  • Dennis Mosher

    Still photos, audio & video recording, words on paper … all of these are imperfect conveyances of reality. Due to their limitations, they indeed “distort” reality.

    But when you intentionally alter reality, as was done in the doctored photos, that crosses a very obvious ethical line, and it is certainly worse than mere bias.

  • The photographer, Adnan Hajj, was at Qana and took the shot of the poor dust covered child with the fresh new blue pacifier which ran in any number of MSM publications.

    Reuters has been smart in jumping on this story quickly; but it still calls into question the use of stringers to provide coverage and the willingness of news organizations to play along with the “handlers” provided by organizations like Hezbollah.

    At a minimum where there is a possibility that a photo-op has been “managed” there should be a standard disclaimer saying something like, “Reuters cannot guarantee that this photograph represents an independent version of the events depicted.”

    And you are dead on Jeff when you say that there are lots of people who know these tools and are willing to stack their expertise up against Reuters or anyone else trying to manipulate reality for political ends.

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  • Dennis: I agree that it all comes down to intent.

    My point is that more than not, the intent is to produce a more striking image in order to attract the readers attention. It is up to the reader to establish a threshold of believability before any particular news item, in whatever form it may be in, can be accepted as truthful.

    Trying to discern the intent of the media creator is even more difficult to do. The competition for eyeballs is becoming more and more intense as more media are created. My point is that you can’t put the onus on technology. It is the viewer that needs to be more discriminating. We can’t establish laws restricting speech whether it be the tabloids or TV spots advertising happy meals to our kids. Semper caveat emptor.

    Jay: can’t you consider bloggers “stringers” who provide coverage? The hope with the blogosphere is that there will be multiple people either confirming or synthesizing the closest account of what could be considered the truth. The real answer is to get more people involved with analyzing an event.

  • Dan

    Here’s yet another twist to doctored photos –

    I watched a documentary the other night which clearly demonstrated that photos released and printed of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake were doctored to show LESS DAMAGE to the buildings to preclude a large drop in upcoming summer tourism.

    As previously stated – doctored photos are nothing new!

  • Bill K.

    Charles Johnson was just on Matt Drudge’s radio show. He’s found another photo that looks like a bad use of the Photoshop clone tool. It’s a flare from an Israeli jet that is cloned multiple times and then explained in the caption as being rockets.

    While Reuters has let go of the photog, they’re not investigating the other photos he’s published. No matter what the intent (he claims he was just removing dust), it sensitizes the public on how confident they can be about trusting published war images. Maybe this is a good thing.

    This is a story that will undoubtedly take off tomorrow. Johnson refers to it as “Reutersgate.”

  • Some may not think that this is such a big deal when they compare the pictures. But with the stakes as high as they are in the conflict, using pictures (which can me much more powerful than words) to make things look different than they really are, can’t be tolerated in any way. Great to see this exposed!

  • Dennis Mosher

    Bill K:

    What the photographer did was no different than a newspaper reporter making up quotes from imaginary people in order to make his story more colorful.

    Technology has nothing to do with it. We have had the ability to touch up up photos for 100 years.

    How about if he hired several people to pose as dead bodies to make his picture more dramatic. Today he could do the same thing with Photoshop.

    It’s fraud, falsification, exaggeration, misrepresentation, lying.

    This is not complicated.

  • EverKarl

    More fraud hrom Hajj here and here.

    The photoshopping in the Beirut picture is so blatant that it should call into question Reuters’ supposed editorial controls — y’know, those filters the MSM has and bloggers don’t.

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  • Eileen

    This is just more evidence of MSM being shills for Islamic terrorists. Many of us have been complaining about it for some time now. Take Eason Jordan’s cozying up with Al Jazeera and ’embeds’ in Afghanistan…or passing out business cards printed in Arabic on the back at Davos. MSM is in bed with the terrorists and is doing the work of our enemies daily.

    If I trusted Reuters in the least, I’d probably be less inclined to view this latest, blatant propaganda effort as being anything less than insidious and pervasive. But day after day when one reads Reuters articles with a pro-terrorist bias, it can no longer be considered to be innocent conduct. Getting caught must suck.

    Reuters isn’t alone, of course.

    Which is why the blogosphere is so important.

    Kudos to Charles Johnson and LGF commenters who bring Real Reporting of the War on Terror to the world daily. And Kudos to Jeff Jarvis for addressing this news. Wonder if we’ll see it reported on ABC nightly tonight?

  • Michael

    ‘Cozying up with Al Jazeera’

    I will be first to sign up for the English-language version, Al Jazeera International later in the year. If only Fox News displayed the same objectivity of Al-Jazeera. If you want to talk about media bias, maybe you should start in israel where a representative of the [IDF] censor is always sitting in the TV studios, no live broadcasts and where the IDF can shut stations and papers down at will.

    In its 2005 report the media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders said the army “routinely obstructed” the movements of Palestinian and foreign journalists.

    See [url],,1827199,00.html[/url]

  • Ravo

    “Either this woman is the unluckiest multiple home-owner in Beirut, or something isn’t quite right.”

  • Ravo

    “It is now obvious that this is a major scandal, and that Reuters has allowed itself to be used as a vehicle for publishing the crudest forms of Hezbollah propaganda.”…LGF commentor

    Terror’s playbook

    “Al Qaeda manual is a blueprint for hate that reveals a sinister plot to invade & conquer

    “The plan, according to Naji, is to conduct small- to medium-scale attacks on crucial infrastructure (like oil or tourism), which will cause the government to draw in its security forces. Chaos or “savagery” will erupt in the unpoliced areas.

    Then, the jihadis will move into these security vacuums and provide basic services to people, who will welcome an end to the instability. The final goal is to establish a single global state ruled by a pious Muslim dictator, the caliph, who will implement a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

    Drawing on the experience of jihadis in Egypt and Algeria, Naji cautions his readers that no plan will succeed unless the jihadis learn how to respond to public opinion and MANIPULATE THE MEDIA.

    Many Westerners underestimate just how sophisticated and ruthless our enemy is. Reading Naji is a start to better understand our foes’ mind-set, particularly because his text has Al Qaeda’s seal of approval. The manual is available at Without this kind of information, the American people and our lawmakers and judges will never fully understand the awful magnitude of what we face.”

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