It looks like Charles Johnson and his crew (TG?) have caught Reuters’ photography division doing work unbecoming a journalist. And a second case.
The first time Reuters photo department got into trouble, in Lebanon in 2006, they ran photoshopped pictures from an Arab photographer (Adnan Hajj) which emphasized the violence.
This time, they cropped photos provided by Turkish media (the high-circulation weekly Hürriet), to remove traces of violence. See Elder of Zion and CAMERA for analyses (LGF seems to be down).
That doesn’t seem consistent, until you consider the context.
In the case of Adnan, the photocopying emphasized Israeli violence against Arab victims. That kind of image raised no red flags in a MSNM office (Reuters Photography) that framed the conflict as Israeli Goliath vs. Palestinian David. They were receiving a flood of such photos and passing on the best, of which Hajj’s photo of the Beirut skyline covered in plumes of smoke was a good one among many.
On the other hand, here, we have something else. The Turkish journal published these photos because they, and their Turkish audience, are proud of the damage they inflicted: from their point of view, this photo is embarrassing to the Israelis. Just like the Egyptians have a museum to their (brief moment of) victory in 1973 (October 6), so too the Turks now have a moment where they had the upper hand on Israeli soldiers. In a tribal warrior honor-shame culture, these photos are the equivalent of counting coup.
Of course, oops, that was supposed to be a peace-activist flotilla, with nothing but love for the whole world. As the NYT (Isabel Kershner) reported:
“Our volunteers were not trained military personnel,” said Yavuz Dede, deputy director of the organization. “They were civilians trying to get aid to Gaza. There were artists, intellectuals and journalists among them. Such an offensive cannot be explained by any terms.”
(Note: It’s one thing to quote Mr. Dede, it’s another thing not to probe the validity of his statement.)
And indeed, the worldwide indignation over Israel’s killing the nine on board depends on this story. If they were a bunch of bloodthirsty, street-fighting Jihadis, armed for close quarter combat, then the story doesn’t quite work.
So what does Reuters do with a picture like this?
It crops out the blood and the knife in the right margin, so it sends out this:
And here’s what it cropped from the right margin:
Note that nothing is cropped from the left side of the picture. Elder of Ziyon notes that the cropped out knife is actually evidence of a) the presence not of kitchen knives but of combat knives on board, which don’t appear among the knives recovered by the IDF, hence b) the probability that the Jihadis threw some of their weapons overboard.
It certainly seems to the pro-Israel crowd that this launders the pictures for a Western liberal audience who still need to believe their (the MSNM’s) narrative about “humanitarian” “human rights” NGOs going to save a desperate people.
As Adam Holland notes (quoting LGF):
That’s a very interesting way to crop the photo. Most people would consider that knife an important part of the context. There was a huge controversy over whether the activists were armed. Cropping out a knife, in a picture showing a soldier who’s apparently been stabbed, seems like a very odd editorial decision.
Reuter’s response to those who inquired about the problem?
The images in question were made available in Istanbul, and following normal editorial practice were prepared for dissemination which included cropping at the edges [sic]. When we realized that a dagger was inadvertently cropped from the images, Reuters immediately moved the original set as well.
So it’s purely an innocent oversight. As soon as it was pointed out, Reuters fixed the problem. Nothing going on here.
But Charles Johnson worked with the second photo and found still more manipulation:
And it gets worse. I took the photo into Photoshop and increased the exposure to lighten the dark areas, and discovered that they didn’t just crop out the knife and blood — they also cropped out another badly injured Israeli soldier lying on the floor.
Honest Reporting has posted on this and asked David Katz to comment. After not wanting to jump to conclusions, and examining the evidence, including Johnson’s analysis, he concludes:
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
Shades of Jeremy Bowen explaining his expression of pleasure at the Israelis problems with the USA as just “glitch in [his] editing process.”
We need a site dedicated to such lame excuses.
Do we also need a category offense like RWUII: Reporting while under the influence of an ideology?
Correction about the opening paragraph: Apparently, Elder of Ziyon’s guest blogger, Suzanne seems to have first noticed the problem. While this may create a certain amount of friction in the blogosphere, which Elder handles impeccably.]