UK Blogger at EU Referendum accuses news agencies of colluding with Hezbollah and all hell breaks loose. Is it always a good thing when bloggers start making the news? (photos: ‘white t-shirt man and ‘suspicious’ logo on his chest)
Have been having a very interesting discussion with Richard North this afternoon at EU Referendum blog, in between taking dog for walk, making Yorkshire puddings, etc.
Richard's blog has been making news in the MSM and is claiming that bloggers are challenging the legitimacy of the media and a tipping point may have been reached by his posts about the Middle East crisis.
Richard - ‘maverick’ Thatcherite, member of the Bruges Group - has been in the news media loads in the UK this past week for his allegations that some news agencies having been using ‘misleading’ or even ‘staged’ photographs in their coverage of the Israel-Lebanon war.
North claims that Hezbollah has been manipulating the ‘left-leaning’ western media and editors have been presenting an anti-Israeli picture.
The MSM in Britain has got very defensive about the allegations and North has become a bit of a hate figure in the UK print media.
Unfortunately, at least some of what EU Referendum has been claiming is patently not true. The case of the White T-shirt man being the most obvious. North claimed that the photos had been doctored and the man in the white T-shirt was working for Hezbollah and that he had been directing the photographers and staging an image of him carrying a dead child in his arms.
The white t-shirt, North said, had a logo on it which was obviously ‘electronically altered’ so that you could not see what was written on it – some pro-Hezbollah slogan, perhaps?
North also stated that he had an ‘unnamed photo expert’ who could back up what he was saying.
It turns out that the photo in question was a compressed jpg and no photo expert in the world would have an opinion about it, one way or another.
The full size version reveals that nothing was written on the t-shirt apart from a faded fashion label. The strange ‘logo’ was the folds in the man’s t-shirt.
I tried all afternoon to get Richard to tell me who this ‘photo expert’ was, or even some information about what type of organization he works for, how long he has been an ‘expert’ etc..
Richard refused to answer. He said white t-shirt man was a dead end which didn’t affect the crux of his argument. He claimed that he was provoking a debate about the reliability of the news media and that they are biased against Israel.
But getting things right does matter, expecially when you are questioning the reporting of photo journalists in a war zone.
North claimed that he used an ‘independent expert’ in his analysis. So who is he?
I think the ‘expert’ is a fiction.
What about blogs being believable, trustworthy, and all that stuff, Richard? Richard said:
I have no "credibility" to lose, because I do not hold myself up to offer the unvarnished truth.
He then claimed the whole thing was a ‘sting operation’, which I don’t think I really understand – but it sounds...like…fraud?
Yes, bloggers are indeed the purveyors of a tarnished truth. But I don’t think that is anything to boast about.
I have nothing against Richard personally, and some of the attacks on him in the British media have been ridiculous this week. He was also one of the first people to say something nice about the beatroot blog in the early days when I thought I was blogging to myself. And I am grateful for that kindness.
It is the bloggers role to pick the scabs, and even open a few wounds, on MSM news coverage. But if bloggers are reaching Richard’s ‘tipping point’ in our relationship with MSM then we had better try and retain the little credibility we have, and not go throwing it away by accusing war photographers of ‘staging’ events with evidence (and experts) that are beyond credibility.
But Richard isn't finished yet about journalists doctoring photos. See here. He is also appearing on BBC 2's Newsnight programme tonight, 7, Aug.
After the Reuters freelance photographer has been caught doctoring at least two photos Richard is on a roll...See Where there's smoke, Daily Telegraph.
The photo on the left is the altered one (click on the photo to get a clearer view). You can see more smoke. But two things strike me about Adrian Hajj, the guy who took these.
Why did he bother risking his career for a small change to a photo that was powerful in the first place?
Secondly, why do the doctoring so badly? It was done with a tool called 'clone' which you can find on photoshop. It takes bits of the photo and you can place them anywhere. You can see repeated bits of smoke on the left hand side of the photo easily.
If you look closely then you can see that some of the buildings repeat themselves. That is an effect of the 'clone'. Not a very good attempt to fool the world. So why bother?
But it does show that when journalists get things wrong there are consequences. Not the same for bloggers.
But the obsession about bias reporting is not just confined to right wing blogs. Harry’s Place, the supposedly left wing ‘Euston manifesto’ blog has a post about ‘Reutersgate’ claiming that the photographer who photoshopped his images "was behind many of the images from Qana – which have also been the subject of suspicions for being staged."
That claim is false, as much else is at Harry’s Place. Adrian Hajj was at Qana but he was not the author of the contested photos of 'white t-shirt man'.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Posted by beatroot at 8/06/2006