Whatever the editorial equivalent of that is, it really needs doing.
I've been following with some interest the Reuters photography story (lots of links here). If you're unfamiliar with it, read the box.
The Reuters news agency has fired freelance photographer Adnan Hajj for photoshopping photographs. The first conclusive example had dark smoke added to a scene overlooking Beirut. At this point Reuters suspended Hajj. When a second photograph was discovered of an aircraft with additional "missiles" and bombs copy-and-pasted in, they fired him and pulled from their database almost 1,000 pictures that he'd provided them over the course of ten years. Since then, additional photographs have been discovered where he would submit the same scene, shot from different perspectives, as evidence of overnight airstrike damage dated weeks apart. Some of these photos feature the exact same people in them.
From the story:
"It's hard to imagine how someone sitting in an air-conditioned office or broadcast studio many thousands of miles from the scene can decide what occurred on the ground with any degree of accuracy," said Kathleen Carroll, AP's senior vice president and executive editor.
Which is exactly the criticism that many people have with the news coverage in the middle east. The reporters sit safely inside their "Green Zone" hotels and have paid local stringers bring them the news. They're not covering the stories, they merely collate what is delivered to them before passing it along as fact.
Yet when the public makes this argument, it's disregarded by the media because they're "professionals". There have been a lot of arrogant bastards over the years working to turn journalism into a cult, and if you're not in the cult then you cannot criticize. The sad thing is, they've largely succeeded.
Senior editor Carroll then goes on with this:
Photographers are experienced in recognizing when someone is trying to stage something for their benefit, she said.
So, in other words, they see it often enough to know it when it happens. And maybe, like in Hajj's case, they're ok with staging the scene because it fits their agenda. Good thing the news agencies have layers of professional editorial staffing to keep this from happening... but, aren't all the editors "sitting in an air-conditioned office or broadcast studio many thousands of miles from the scene"? I thought that made it difficult or impossible to "decide what occurred on the ground with any degree of accuracy".
Then we get this "professional" opinion:
"Do you really think these people would risk their lives under Israeli shelling to set up a digging ceremony for dead Lebanese kids?" asked Patrick Baz, Mideast photo director for AFP.
More and more, I believe that the weather forecast is the most accurate part of any news program.Posted by Ted at August 8, 2006 06:07 AM | TrackBack