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Questions Arise About Staged or Faked News Photos From Syria | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

Questions Arise About Staged or Faked News Photos From Syria

Homs, Syria

Men unload boxes of UN humanitarian aid in a besieged section of Homs, Syria (Reuters/Yazan Homsy)

Once again the site BagNewsNotes has done a service for journalists and readers by raising concerns (following on recent work by others) about possibly staged or faked news photos widely-published by Reuters from Syria in recent weeks. 

BagNewsNotes focuses on analysis and "literacy" of images in the media. As they explain, "No other site is as committed and singularly focused on the social, cultural and political 'reading' of the individual picture. Given the power of photos to influence and persuade, we feel it is vital for citizens to become better 'readers' and consumers of visual news, messaging and spin."

No other site is as committed and singularly focused on the social, cultural and political “reading” of the individual picture. Given the power of photos to influence and persuade, we feel it is vital for citizens to become better “readers” and consumers of visual news, messaging and spin. - See more at: http://www.bagnewsnotes.com/about/#sthash.OGsQrq9g.dpuf

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This email from the site's longtime publisher Michael Shaw provides key links and background (you'll see many of the photos in question) so I will excerpt here:

Over the last three weeks, serious questions have been raised about the accuracy and integrity of photos and photo stories by freelancer/activists in Syria affiliated with Reuters. The first story was published by the New York Times Lens blog, the second by the NPPA. We published two more stories last week at BagNewsNotes:

Were the Reuters “Boy in a Syrian Bomb Factory” Photos Staged?—with analysis provided by photojournalists, photo editors and reporters familiar with the workings of these rudimentary factories in Aleppo.

The Dysfunctional Guitar: More on the Reuters Syria Photo Controversy—details the repeated appearance of the same damaged instrument in multiple images along with a look into a Reuters explanation.

In a post published last night by the British Journal of Photography, Reuters’ resistant stance -- and a hostility toward those raising questions -- was specifically called out. Because the news sphere has a short attention span and Reuters is such a powerful player in the world of news photography, there's a real risk that time will pass (while compromised pictures might even keep coming) and this situation will just be forgotten. Given the risk to the industry for the loss of integrity – including the integrity of all the talented and ethical people working for Reuters — that would be quite a blow.

That post closes with these questions:

When asked whether Khatib still worked for Reuters, the news agency refused to comment.

When asked whether the recent allegations had resulted in a change in Reuters’ news-gathering practices in Syria, the news agency refused to comment.

When asked whether Reuters would consider opening another investigation following the recent and specific allegations against its news operations in Syria, the news agency refused to comment.

And, more importantly, when asked why Reuters had been using Syrian activists as freelance photographers without informing its clients, the news agency again refused to comment.

We'll update as needed.

Read Next: Tom Engelhardt: How Sensational News Stories Distract Us From Real Crises.

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