Monday, August 07, 2006

Smoke as News

Ok, maybe photographer Adnan Hajj manipulated his picture on Photoshop and added a little thick black smoke in the skies of a bombed Beirut. Or maybe, as he claims, it was unintentional, the result of poor lighting and the unfortunate consequence of an attempt to remove dust marks. The reader can judge for himself (the picture on the left is the adulterated one, while the one on the right has not been manipulated). But whatever it was, it certainly isn't newsworthy, and either way, that's a lot of smoke. Reuters, which released the picture, is, we are told, very strict about its selection of photographs, and as a result of the above mishap it will no longer be accepting photographs by Mr. Hajj.

The news agency is well within its right to choose whose images it takes and whose it rejects. But for the story to be construed as news while almost a thousand Lebanese civilians are killed, nearly a million people are displaced, and an economy is crippled is unbelievingly disrespectful of the nightmare the Lebanese have been plunged into. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert can inflate the threat, or totally misrepresent the number of civilians killed by the NATO bombing in Kosovo (see below), and no one raises an eyebrow. But to add some smoke over Beirut, what a crime!

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