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August 7, 2006
Bridge On The River Lie

The Reuters story keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. Take a look at the progression of Adnan Hajj photographs posted by John at Power Line. The images all purport to show the aftermath of attacks on Qasmiya Bridge near the major Lebanese city of Tyre. However, the sequence shows odd states of repair after supposed devastation, and in some cases look like entirely different sites.

What has become apparent that Reuters has no editorial process for reviewing the photographs they get from their photojournalist stringers. The wire service relies on the photographer for the captioning, and it looks like they just act as an uncritical conduit between the photographer and the newspapers Reuters services. After discovering more than one questionable photograph, Reuters has withdrawn all of Hajj's photos -- but they still have not explained how their supposedly professional editorial checks failed to detect these obvious problems with Hajj and his work:

Global Picture Editor Tom Szlukovenyi called the measure precautionary but said the fact that two of the images by photographer Adnan Hajj had been manipulated undermined trust in his entire body of work.

"There is no graver breach of Reuters standards for our photographers than the deliberate manipulation of an image," Szlukovenyi said in a statement.

All fine and good, but Reuters needs to explain exactly how they provide editorial content over their photographers. They have an editor, but as the Hajjing of the war in Lebanon demonstrates, either he does nothing but oversee indiscriminate publication, or Hajj's photographs fit their editorial bias and they published them for a reason. No other rational choices exist, as John's post confirms.

I tend to believe the former rather than the latter. Unfortunately, this left Reuters open for exploitation by propaganda artists who could operate freely in the war zone. Adnan Hajj has manipulated Reuters for the benefit of Hezbollah terrorists. If Reuters wants to have any credibility in the future, they have to convince us that they will not allow themselves to be used in the same manner.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 7, 2006 8:25 PM

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