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Photo ops: Reuters pays cash for OBL compound photos; Obama stages fauxtographic speech pics

By Michelle Malkin  •  May 4, 2011 04:29 PM

Lots of photojournalism headlines today.

While the White House capitulated on the OBL death photos, Reuters was apparently willing to fork over money for pictures of bodies at the bin Laden compound other than bin Laden.

The story and photos are here.

Question: Who did Reuters pay? The camera man was reportedly a “Pakistani security official.”


Reuters is confident of the authenticity of the purchased images because details in the photos appear to show a wrecked helicopter from the assault, matching details from photos taken independently on Monday.

U.S. forces lost a helicopter in the raid due to a mechanical problem and later destroyed it.

The pictures are also taken in sequence and are all the same size in pixels, indicating they have not been tampered with. The time and date in the photos as recorded in the digital file’s metadata match lighting conditions for the area as well as the time and date imprinted on the image itself.

The close-cropped pictures do not show any weapons on the dead men, but the photos are taken in medium close-up and often crop out the men’s hands and arms.

One photo shows a computer cable and what looks like a child’s plastic green and orange water pistol lying under the right shoulder of one of the dead men. A large pool of blood has formed under his head.

Looks like Reuters took great pains to verify the photos. As well they should. Just as a friendly reminder, Reuters has quite a colorful history when it comes to war on terror-era fauxtography. Remember Adnan Hajj?



If the child’s water pistol brings back memories, it should. More jihadi-related fauxtography here and here and here.

Speaking of fauxtography…via left-wing Poynter:

Reuters, AP photojournalists describe staging of Obama photo taken after TV announcement of bin Laden’s death

It is time for this kind of re-enactment to end. The White House should value truth and authenticity. The technology clearly exists to document important moments without interrupting them. Photojournalists and their employers should insist on and press for access to document these historic moments.

In the meantime, anyone who uses these recreations should clearly disclose to the reader the circumstances under which they were captured.

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