vrijdag 6 augustus 2010

Wat deden 5 Reuters fotografen bij de Israelisch-Libanese grens afgelopen dinsdag?

Bij de schietpartij afgelopen dinsdag tussen Israel en Libanon kwam zoals bekend een Libanese journalist om het leven en een andere raakte zwaargewond. Behalve deze journalisten van beide aan Hezbollah gelieerde media waren er echter ook een horde journalisten van Reuters aanwezig, met lokale 'stringers', dat zijn mensen die vertalen en de weg kennen ter plaatse en vaak ook kontakten helpen regelen voor de journalist (zij maken soms ook zelf foto's). Verschillende mensen, waaronder Elder of Ziyon, vragen zich af wat die journalisten daar allemaal deden. Israel zaagt wel vaker een boom langs de grens om, om goed zicht te houden op de grens. Daar stuur je dus geen 5 fotografen naar toe. Blijkbaar verwachtte men dat er meer zou gebeuren en wilde dan als eerste prachtige foto's hebben. Honest Reporting stelt er in haar blog een paar kritische vragen over, en heeft bovendien alle 25 foto's van Reuters onder de loep genomen. Klik hier voor de tekst met foto's.
Reuters had 5 photographers plus stringers to cover a tree being cut
Thursday, August 5 2010

Border Clash: A Case Study in Reuters Photography

The sheer number of photos involved makes this post both daunting and necessary.

Daunting, because 25 is a lot of images (and captions) to look over and post. Necessary, because this is the only way to demonstrate how far over the top Reuters photographers went in covering Tuesday's clash along the Israeli-Lebanese border. The images also raise some very troubling questions.

The Issues

1. Five photographers, (in addition to an unknown number of stringers) from one news service covering what was supposed to be routine IDF border maintenance work is astounding.

The Reuters photographers identified with photo credits are Ali Hashisho, Hamad Almakt, Kamel Jaber, Baz Ratner, and Karamallah Daher (not to be confused with AP photographer Ronith Daher who also covered the border skirmish). Ratner and Almakt worked on the Israeli side of the border. The rest of the images are from the Lebanese side.

2. Reuters' coverage and access to so many positions along the border makes us wonder if some or all of these photographers expected to "only" cover IDF gardening or the start of the next Lebanon war.

Reuters' photos simply blew away the other news agencies. Had the skirmish escalated, the wire service would have been well-poised to produce lots of gory images of dead and injured Lebanese soldiers and civilians.

3. It's reasonable to assume Reuters' picture desk staff and editors knew what was going on. There's no way the picture desk could have been flooded with these kinds of images without higher ups wondering how so many photographers were able to share the same scoop.

4. Some images of Israeli soldiers taken from the Lebanese side of the border are so close, it's a miracle that more journalists weren't killed or injured by IDF fire. In the heat of battle, it's very easy to confuse large camera equipment, like a zoom lens, with a weapon.

As it was, Assaf Abu Rahhal of the pro-Syrian paper, al-Akhbar was killed, while Ali Chouaib of Hezbollah's Al-Manar was injured.

5. Seven of the 25 pictures (28 percent) have an unidentified "stringer" photo credit; this is very suspicious and leaves a lot of unanswered questions as to who the photographers are.

Common practice is for stringers -- local free-lance photographers not employed by the news service -- to be credited by name, followed by the word "Stringer" or "STR" to indicate the photographer's status. None of the seven stringer photo credits identified anyone by name.

6. One photographer deserving closer scrutiny is Ali Hashisho. Judging from his especially close access and captions, it's worth asking if Hashisho also serves in the Lebanese Army, UNIFIL, or some other position that might be a conflict of interest with his work for Reuters.

7. We linked to the images on DayLife for further documentation.

8. HonestReporting obtained six unpublished graphic photos which we are including in this post. Despite their graphic nature, we are including those images because they further demonstrate the unrestricted access the Reuters photographers enjoyed. All are branded with Reuters watermarks.

9. It should be noted that Reuters wasn't the only agency with photographers on scene. AP, for example, had its own photographic issues which we blogged Tuesday night. However, for the reasons listed above, we're singling out Reuters for special attention.


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