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Breaking: Reuters withdraws all Hajj photos;second photo doctoring confirmed

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By Michelle Malkin  •  August 7, 2006 10:57 AM

***update 12:12pm Eastern…Rush Limbaugh right now: “Reuters ought to be investigated. They should investigate themselves…The second doctored photo is a ‘doozy’…Once again, as in the Dan Rather case, it was the blogosphere that brought this to light…It’s devastating, folks…this is the tip of the iceberg, not just Reuters…”***

***update: Rush audio here and CNN vid of Charles Johnson***

Reuters is burning. Just in:

Reuters withdrew all 920 photographs by a freelance Lebanese photographer from its database on Monday after an urgent review of his work showed he had altered two images from the conflict between Israel and the armed group Hizbollah.

Global Picture Editor Tom Szlukovenyi called the measure precautionary but said the fact that two of the images by photographer Adnan Hajj had been manipulated undermined trust in his entire body of work.

“There is no graver breach of Reuters standards for our photographers than the deliberate manipulation of an image,” Szlukovenyi said in a statement.

“Reuters has zero tolerance for any doctoring of pictures and constantly reminds its photographers, both staff and freelance, of this strict and unalterable policy.”

The news and information agency announced the decision in an advisory note to its photo service subscribers. The note also said Reuters had tightened editing procedures for photographs from the conflict and apologised for the case.

Removing the images from the Reuters database excludes them from future sale.

Reuters ended its relationship with Hajj on Sunday after it found that a photograph he had taken of the aftermath of an Israeli air strike on suburban Beirut had been manipulated using Photoshop software to show more and darker smoke rising from buildings.

An immediate enquiry began into Hajj’s other work.

It established on Monday that a photograph of an Israeli F-16 fighter over Nabatiyeh, southern Lebanon and dated Aug 2, had also been doctored to increase the number of flares dropped by the plane from one to three.

Bryan Preston jibes: “Now if they’d just withdraw all the pro-jihadi crap they’ve dressed up as news reporting over the last 5 years…”

My opinion:

If Reuters had half a brain, it would post all of Hajj’s photos on a separate site and welcome continued blogger analysis that uncovered this debacle in the first place. Withdrawing the photos to cover their tracks is a dumb idea.

If they are interested in the truth, they will harness the power of the Internet’s distributed intelligence network–not cut it off.

***

More coverage: E&P and YNetNews.

***

Allah invokes a famous pop culture moment in the annals of fake journalism:

I think we’re at the part in “Shattered Glass” now where Peter Sarsgaard’s rifling through back issues of the New Republic while Hayden Christensen sobs gently behind him.

“Chuck? Are you mad at me, Chuck?”

***

Tom Glocer, CEO of Reuters, gave a highly-praised speech in March about the interaction between blogs and Old Media. A few passages stuck out:

Glocer: “What we are seeing on-line now is almost a continuous talent show, with media-savvy consumers using digital technology to express themselves and stand out as individuals in their virtual communities…

…The 2004 U.S. Presidential Election was the first White House race in which blogging played an influential role. According to a Pew report released after the election, 9% of Internet users said they read political blogs “frequently” or “sometimes” during the campaign.

And by breaking stories or pushing issues – like the Swiftboat veterans – blog sites extended their influence beyond their readership base to the national media. In effect, bloggers became the story…

…We need to promote open standards and interoperability to allow a diverse set of consumer-creators to combine disparate content types. We must enable our content to be at the Crossroads of our audiences’ consumption – and realize that no one fully “owns” audience anymore….

***

Jeff Jarvis: “We can’t be a chokehold in a desparate effort to close the digital pipe,” Glocer says, arguing that media companies must not try to protect what they have by restricting those who come next.

Were those just empty words? Or will Glocer practices what he preaches?

How about a blogger review panel to independently examine Adnan Hajj’s work? Here are your talented online panelists, Mr. Glocer, for starters:

Charles Johnson
Rusty Shackleford
Ace of Spades
Jeff Harrell
Allah Pundit
Dan Riehl
Beth at My VWRC
EU Referendum
The Dissident Frogman
Jeff Goldstein
Thomas Lifson
Left and Right

One last bit from Glocer’s speech:

So the role of companies like ours is to edit and filter – to provide open tools and to seed the clouds with content that encourages contributions. And then the skill to spot the gold in the pan of water and dirt. Because what looks niche now has the potential to gain mass appeal and eventually go mainstream.

The good stuff will float to the on-line surface.

That’s for sure, though Glocer might want to avoid “seed the cloud” analogies from now on.

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