Saturday, June 12, 2010

Reuters Fauxtography - Caught Again

From Honest Reporting COMMUNIQUE: 7 June 2010:

Reuters is once again exposed doctoring photos to change the images of the Gaza flotilla "peace activists".

Eagle-eyed blogger Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs was responsible for exposing Reuters' Fauxtography during the 2006 Lebanon conflict.

Examining photos of bloodied and battered Israeli naval commandos on board the Mavi Marnara, published by the Turkish press, Johnson has once again exposed Reuters' doctoring of photos.

In the first picture, published in the Turkish newspaper, notice the "peace activist" holding a knife in the lower right corner:

The same photo released by Reuters has been cropped so that the knife, and potentially, evidence of the intentions of the "peace activists", is removed:

Little Green Footballs then identified another cropped Reuters photo:

The picture is a cropped version of this photo from the IHH website:

Reuters has cropped out a big knife and a big pool of blood as well as another badly injured Israeli soldier lying on the ground:

Photographer and image analyst David Katz is vastly experienced in the photographic process, from the initial capture of the image through selection, editing, correcting, caption sending, together with the newsroom processes that would leave an image ready to be viewed through the media. We asked him for his professional opinion:

My initial reaction was to avoid hasty accusations against Reuters as this was a fairly unique set of circumstances and one that I felt needed a bit more investigation before pointing fingers began.

My understanding was and still is that the images were taken by someone onboard the ship and deleted by the security services before being returned to the IHH activist who then had the images retrieved through special software in Turkey upon their return and then passed to the newspaper to help embarrass Israel even further.

It's not clear at this point whether Reuters took them as some kind of screen grab or were offered it in a more conventional way for distribution. What is clear, however, is the picture was obviously cropped. One could play Devil's advocate to say that it was not done intentionally - perhaps the knife was not spotted by the Reuters picture desk or someone may have innocently, through overwork or tiredness, just made a mistake. After all, the original images had not come from Reuters staff or freelance photographers but an activist on the ship with an agenda.

However once LGF highlighted the second image that was lightened and run through Photoshop, not only did this highlight the knife that was cropped out in the Reuters image, it also showed a seriously wounded soldier who had also been removed from the image to deliberately hide the true intentions of the terrorists.

It is crystal clear that someone at Reuters has deliberately hidden key parts of the original images. What we do not know at this stage is, who at Reuters did this and more importantly why?

The use of imagery in the media war is becoming more and more widespread. There has to be a responsibility from the bloggers, website hosts and especially from the international news wire services in the way they use the images.

This appears to be a deliberate attempt to change images for a specific reason. Reuters needs to investigate this and act in an appropriate manner.

Since being exposed, Reuters has uncropped the offending photographs. However, this still leaves questions over how this was allowed to happen. Evidently Reuters has not yet learned the lessons of the 2006 Fauxtography affair.

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