Your ly­ing eyes

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

“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

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