Your lying eyes
“There’s an old joke about a Southern preacher who’s asked by a skeptical congregant if he really believes in infant baptism. ‘Believe in it?’ the preacher replies. ‘Why, I’ve seen it done!’ I thought of the preacher when I heard the latest in photojournalism’s long line of mini-scandals, this one involving a Lebanese freelancer named Adnan Hajj who was working in Beirut. [. . .] When the forgeries were pointed out, the agency pulled the pictures, dismissed the photographer, and issued a statement asserting that such fakery had no place in the news business.
“It may not, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen regularly. [Aug. 8], the AP got caught sending out a crudely — and nonsensically — altered photo of an Alaskan oil pipeline worker; last month, the Charlotte Observer fired a photographer for changing the color of the sky in a picture of a firefighter; the same week, the Spanish-language edition of the Miami Herald acknowledged that a picture of prostitutes in Havana had been cobbled together from two different shots; in 2003 the Los Angeles Times sacked a photographer for combining two pictures from Iraq, taken moments apart, into one. [. . .]
“Needless to say, news photographers shouldn’t doctor photographs any more than reporters should make up quotes.”
Jim Lewis, writing on “Don’t Believe What You See in the Papers,” Aug. 10 in Slate at www.slate.com