Sunday, August 06, 2006

Evidence Of Media Bias Piling Up: Reuters Admits To Doctoring Photo

From the Jerusalem Post and Y-Net comes this story. You can read it here and here, respectively.

You probably think that I am going to tell you that I told you so. If so, you would be correct. Consider yourself, told.

But not only that, I am also going to say that the Israelis are countering the misinformation with correct information, and doing a fine job of it. If you want to play a game with Israel, they are demonstrating that they can play back. Not only does this story not suprise a lot of people (including myself), but is shows that Israel is not going to stand back and allow the enemy of their existence to control the world media. The truth will always surface, eventually.

From the moment that Reuters first announced they would cease using the word "terrorist" in their news pieces, their bias became plain to me and countless others. Now we have been informed that a world respected news agency (that is responsible for a large market share of world news), is guilty of doctoring a photo. Can you say "memogate"?

In my opinion, this not only embarasses the agency beyond compare, it severely compromises my ability to have any confidence, in anything with Reuters' name. At very least it begs the question, "what else have they doctored or lied about?". Better yet, if Reuters does this how about the AP? Or others?

We expect this kind of thing out of Hezbollah and Pallywood, but not Reuters. As biased as they can be, who would have thought that they would stoop so low, as to embellish a story using such wanton and willful disregard, for accuracy? Who would have thought that they would manufacture deceit, by manipulating the story instead of just reporting it?

I would have. In fact, I have long before this episode. Can you say the same?

10 comments:

A.C. said...

How long til we hear the anti-Israel lobby defending the use of photoshop to combat the evil Zionest aggression?

Have you checked the left side blogs?

Abu Muhammad said...

Oh come on, infidels, don't get all weird about this little smart trickery. In fact, you should see this as a sign of growing muslim tolerance. When you start up Photoshop you see in the credits that at least one Jew was involved in the making of this software! And the muslim brother Hajj uses it anyway!

LASunsett said...

AC,

//Have you checked the left side blogs?//

No, I try to avoid the radical ones like the Daily Kos and such. The Bush hate-fest simply turns me off. You cannot have any kind of an intellectual debate with them, without it always getting to Bush lied and is Satan incarnate.

L'Amerloque said...

Hi LASunsett !

/*/You probably think that I am going to tell you that I told you so. If so, you would be correct. Consider yourself, told./*/

(grin) One swallow doesn't make a summer, though. (wider grin)

Nevertheless, this kind of correction to dishonest media – whether from the left or the right – is a valuable service that is being performed by blogs. Bravo.

Media being dishonest due to incompetence or sloth is one thing, and should be deplored, naturally, but media being dishonest due to a political agenda (again, whether from the right or left matters little, in Amerloque's humble view … no one has a monopoly on lies or untruths … ) is even worse, and should be condemned – loudly. Faking a digitalized image ? How crass. What was the fellow thinking – that out here in the real non-journalistic life someone wouldn't see it ? It's a big, big world. (sigh) A valuable lesson for all concerned.

Now, on to another topic, from a while back … Amerloque is off on vacation in Normandy and hasn't been lurking efficiently as is his usual wont … he apologizes in advance for going backwards in time, on this one. (grin)

The other day LASunsett posted an interesting piece called "How Propaganda Is Created". Amerloque read the references and harrumphed to himself "Huh – so what else is new ?". He understood LASunsett's outrage: Amerloque feels the same way when the far right manufactures and/or deforms events.

Then Amerloque sat back to watch the comments – and they were interesting. One poster took issue with the timeline and made some useful observations.

However, no one at all touched on what had surprised Amerloque: the understanding by all concerned of the word "propaganda" in the title of the post. Everyone, i.e., LASunsett and the commenters, seemed to be on the same wavelength about the meaning of the word. Amerloque was surprised at this.

Amerloque asked himself just what the term "propaganda" meant to him. The meaning in his mind was extremely close to the first two of the dictionary.com definitions:

1. The systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause.

2. Material disseminated by the advocates or opponents of a doctrine or cause: wartime propaganda

For Amerloque, the term was neutral.

However, it was clear from the thrust of LASunsett's post, and the comments, that the word "propaganda" was being understood specifically as "exaggerations" or "invention" or "outright lies". This is/was Amerloque's extrapolation of the possible vocabulary, at any rate. (grin)

Interestingly enough, when Amerloque went onto Wiki (English) to check it out, he found:

""Propaganda is a specific type of message presentation directly aimed at influencing the opinions of people, rather than impartially providing information. Literally translated from the Latin gerundive as "things which must be disseminated," in some cultures the term is neutral or even positive, while in others the term has acquired a strong negative connotation. Its connotations can also vary over time. For instance, in English, "propaganda" was originally a neutral term used to describe the dissemination of information in favor of a certain cause. Over time, however, the term acquired the negative connotation of disseminating false or misleading information in favor of a certain cause. Strictly speaking, a message does not have to be untrue to qualify as propaganda, but it may omit so many pertinent truths that it becomes highly misleading.""

It became clear to Amerloque that LASunsett understood propaganda to have acquired the "negative connotation" that Wiki refers to.

Nothing wrong with or reprehensible about any of this, of course, as long as each person understands how the term is being used. It's when the term is not understood in the same fashion by both (or all !) sides that problems arise.

It's more than a question of semantics - or perception (grin) – in Amerloque's view: the misunderstanding - or misapprehension – can preclude any agreement whatsoever, since one side might be talking about apples, while the other is talking about oranges.

This is whole issue in especially important, in Amerloque's humble view, when discussing "vital threat" or "war" or "Arab irridentism" or "democracy" … if those discussing don't even agree on what the term means …. Argh !

Now, back to your regular programs … (wide grin)

Best,
L'Amerloque

LASunsett said...

Amerloque,

As always your input is appreciated and welcome, Thank you for your comment.

Unfortunately in true Amerloque fashion, it is quite detailed and lengthy (which is a good thing). I say that because, my brain cells are fried from massive amounts of stimulus at work today and I will have to defer my response to when I can better look at and analyze your words.

I will comment further, later. Until then, best to you sir.

LASunsett said...

Hello Amerloque,

// One swallow doesn't make a summer, though.//

No, it doesn't, does it?. But there is more coming to light and more will come. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. For every criminal you catch, there are many more that get by. I honestly believe that this scenario, is no different. For every fake story or every fake photo that comes or will come to light in the future, many more will slip by.

Understanding this will most certainly require a person to realize that this element kills innocent people at the drop of a hat, they most certainly do not have any trouble staging the horror on film, for propaganda purposes. And they would have no reservations about outright lying (and other form of deceits), to do it.

Speaking of the word "propaganda", you said:

//For Amerloque, the term was neutral.//

Propaganda is one of those words that has evolved and has become synonymous with the dissemination of false information, for personal, political, and/or military gain. (At least it has, for most Americans)

But the two definitions you list can always be applicable, depending on the context of the conversation or written discourse (and depending on the intended message of the messenger).

In my view (for whatever it is worth), the important question to ask in all of this, is simple to ask. But it requires a complex answer.

No matter what the critics may believe, there is a strategy devised and implemented by the jihadis, to willfully and purposefully manipulate world opinion through the media. And to fully understand this principle, a person simply must be able to believe it.

For whatever reason or motive, the MSM seems to be taken in by reporting anti-Israel material, and not checking out their sources. I would desperately love to believe that they were just getting very sloppy. Because, I would sure hate to believe that the media has stooped to such a low level as to be a party to this lind of deceit. It's as low as you can get in the journalistic world.

L'Amerloque said...

Hi LASunsett !

/*/For every fake story or every fake photo that comes or will come to light in the future, many more will slip by. /*/

The problem – if problem there is, indeed – is that the "faked" photos are no different in what they represent than other, similar "real" photos.

Moreover, proving that one – or many- photos are faked (and Amerloque deplores the fake(s) as much as LASunsett – there should be no doubt of that) does not counterbalance the effect on the public of the photos that are indisputably authentic.

Certainly a picture is worth a thousand words (as the advertising had it, more or less … http://tinyurl.com/hkce4).

For the past month on TV there have been – literally – hours and hours of images showing the destruction of Lebanon. Whether Amerloque watches French TV, Italian TV, or Spanish TV, (or the BBC, or Sky News, or CNN International – the "Anglo-Saxon stations"), daily there are new, fresh images of smoke, flames, agony and death. On all sides. Not the same images played over and over, either (à la Rummy and the looting of Iraqi museums …). (Amerloque receives CNBC Europe on cable, too, and is able to see the "NBC Nightly News": if that's exactly what is showing in the USA, the US is in big, big, trouble; Amerloque is flabbergasted at the vacuity and partisanship.)

Contrary to impressions that might be prevalent in the USA, French TV reports on ths current conflict are far more balanced, in Amerloque's humble view, than those shown on US TV. The belligerents are represented with approximately the same intensity, and for similar amounts of time. (The watchdog agency sometimes has stats on this, concerning the public TV channels, but Amerloque hasn't been able to find any this time around).

Given France's historical (and putatively "Christian") role in Lebanon (which is 63% Muslim and 37% Christian), many French people of Amerloque's acquaintance are displeased (and that is a mild world indeed) to see Christian hospitals and clinics bombed into smithereens, and to hear interviews in French with Christian doctors and medics, including those from Doctors Without Borders, of impeccable reputation, explaining the destruction that rained down upon them. Asserting that Hezbollah was using Christian hospitals as places to launch rockets from is the height of absurdity, in many French eyes, especially since there just doesn't seem to be any proof forthcoming. (sigh)

The faked photos are not even on the public's radar. However, they were on the French TV's radar: mention was made of them the other day on the (relatively left-wing) FR3 channel; the "before" and "after" images were screened and commented.

/*/Speaking of the word "propaganda", you said:

In my view (for whatever it is worth), the important question to ask in all of this, is simple to ask. But it requires a complex answer.

No matter what the critics may believe, there is a strategy devised and implemented by the jihadis, to willfully and purposefully manipulate world opinion through the media. And to fully understand this principle, a person simply must be able to believe it. /*/

With all due respect, Amerloque is not sure what LASunsett is driving at.

Is LASunsett suggesting that, say, the West, or the Israelis, or the USA, or China (all are simply examples for discussion; the list should not be construed as representing Amerloque's endorsement or rejection of any instance named …) , are _not_ attempting to "willfully and purposefully manipulate world opinion through the media" ?!

During the Cold War, both the Western Bloc and theEastern Bloc did it. Now, other countries / instances are doing it. Nothing new about it. Why should one be bent out of shape about it ? Why should publishing a "faked" photo (e.g., the smoke) be any more reprehensible than printing a "staged" photo (e.g, the US Prez on a carrier and "Mission Accomplished" displayed) ? The desired result is the same ("propaganda" to manipulate the world's media): only the means differ.

/*/For whatever reason or motive, the MSM seems to be taken in by reporting anti-Israel material, and not checking out their sources. I would desperately love to believe that they were just getting very sloppy. Because, I would sure hate to believe that the media has stooped to such a low level as to be a party to this lind of deceit. It's as low as you can get in the journalistic world./*/

Amerloque is with LASunsett on that score. (smile) However, Amerloque (as, he supposes, LASunsett) came to the conclusion quite a while ago that the media were being manipulated. (sigh) One thing that particularly bothers Ameloque is the constant current reference to "anonymous sources" who, for some reason, cannot be named: "not authorized to comment", or "not willing to compromise security" or something like that. (sigh)

Best,
L'Amerloque

LASunsett said...

Hello Amerloque,

//Is LASunsett suggesting that, say, the West, or the Israelis, or the USA, or China (all are simply examples for discussion; the list should not be construed as representing Amerloque's endorsement or rejection of any instance named …) , are _not_ attempting to "willfully and purposefully manipulate world opinion through the media" ?!//

If I understand your question correctly, the answer is yes. Governments have done and still do the same thing.

But I would also say that there is a big difference between a photo-op and the deliberate and willful attempt to deceive, using doctored photos and closely directed scenes.

The photo-op does not use such footage or photos. They use what they have and make a sales pitch while they are doing it, ever so subtlely. On the other hand, the doctored photos and staged footage is a more blatant form of manipulation.

You mentioned China and the old Soviet bloc. The Sovets used a form of manipulation which in many ways are much worse (in my view). They used outright censorship. China still does.

If you visit China and run across a computer that is connected to the internet, try typing in Tiannamen (sp?) Square, as a search. You will then see multiple sites with tourist information about the landmark in Beijing, but will see absolutely nothing about the horrible massacre that occurred 17 or so years ago, at that same site.

So we have:

1. Photo Ops

2. Fake or embellished photos/ staged scenes on video.

3. Outright censorship.

Which does Amerloque think is worse?

LASunsett said...

Amerloque,

Another point.

You said:

//Asserting that Hezbollah was using Christian hospitals as places to launch rockets from is the height of absurdity, in many French eyes, especially since there just doesn't seem to be any proof forthcoming. (sigh)//

Keep waiting patiently there may be some more yet to come out of all of this, that will refute this. But in the meantime, ask yourself this question. If you were there doing what they do and armed guerrillas are mixed in the overall population, how easy would it be to be forthright and say that Hezbollah is using our grounds to launch rockets, knowing that they blend in and resurface at will?

In my view, this is no different than a street gang that has more control over the turf of a neighborhood, than the authorities. Cops will not get cooperation in street gang violence, because the area is always crawling with members and the locals are quite afraid of retaliation. In this case, Hezbollah is the street gang and the authorities are the Lebanese forces, which are severely outmanned and outarmed by the Hezbollah guerrillas.

L'Amerloque said...

Hi LASunsett !

/*/1. Photo Ops

2. Fake or embellished photos/ staged scenes on video.

3. Outright censorship.

Which does Amerloque think is worse?/*/

A loaded question, indeed. (grin) A quick analysis can demonstrate that the three are signifcantly different of course, which make a comparison and a choice of "the worst" a somewhat invidious - if not outright impossible - task. (wider grin)

The first two, i.e., (1) and (2), are designed to provide and/or to deform a message - whether with subtlety or with hamfistedness is not the issue; in Amerloque's humble view.

The third is designed to prevent a given message being received by choking it off at the source.

A photo op (1) (that is, a venue where an event takes place and where photographers are invited to take pictures) can be, say:

A US President decked out in flying gear on a carrier with a banner in the background (GWB and the "Mission Accomplished" drivel)

or

A group of farm workers laboring away cheerfully and uncomplainingly in the fields (à la Stalin and Mao, say, or Uncle Ho)

or

A medical team in nice sanitary hospital (in Cuba, say, or in the USA)

or

A politician being wamly greeted as s/he pumps and squeezes hands during a campaign tour.(in many places)

or

A line of people waiting to cast their ballots (many places, including Iraq)

or

A group of happy tanning tourists on a pristing beach somewhere. (in many places)

They are not random events ... nor are the resulting photos faked or embellished, at least, theoretically.

The photo ops are staged, which makes the dividing line between a part of (2) and (1) blurred indeed. A staged photo is used to send a message, whether it's called a "photo op" or not. Calling a submarine an airplane will not enable it to fly.

Taking a picture of the same truly lifeless body in different poses, for example, is simply a photo op, in Amerloque's view. (Granted, there are ancillary moral issues, not the least of which is respect for the dead and possible epidemic contagion ... ). It's not a fake: the body is dead, after all. It is "staged" in the sense that the body is moved around for maximum visual effect. If the body were alive, portraying it as dead would not be a "photo op", but something else …

As to (2) "Fake or embellished photos/ staged scenes on video", Amerloque would move the second part to (1), to make the dividing line between the two clearer. That would yield:

1. Photo Ops / staged scenes on video.

2. Fake or embellished photos

A look at (2), then, is required. Where does the "fake" or "embellished" criterion start and stop. Does "cropping" a photo automatically turn it into a "fake" ? (Cropping is, after all, a widely-accepted editing technique: say, eliminating drunk ol' Uncle Earl from the far corner of the family reunion photo, or, more seriously, cutting out a group of soldiers standing to the left of another group of soldiers in combat somewhere).

Of course, there is the whole issue of "faking/embellishing" to produce a result worthy of emulation, which is not the issue here ...

If by "fake" or "embellished" LASunsett means "darkening and increasing the smoke rising from a bombing raid", then Amerloque is on the same wavelength, of course: it is dishonest and reprehensible. It's unsurprising, though.

Insofar as (3) is concerned, every society has censorship: it can be sought out and found relatively easily. China has chosen to block out "Tienanmen" on the Internet. Ask the Chinese why and they say "National Security". Ask our Pentagon why they censored the photos of the flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq and they answer "National Security" and "PsyOps".

What about personal data (the divergence between European and American views is staggering ...), for example ? What about sexually-oriented data ?

So, why should China adopt values ("no censorship of the Tienanmen term !") that are not its own ? Why should the USA adopt values that are not its own ? Why should France adopt values that are not its own ? In each country there is a form - ot there are forms ! - of censorship. Amerloque has no problem with that: if China wants to stop the "Tienanmen" term, why not ? (What about posting bomb-making ingredients, for example ? Or departure/arrival times for passenger aircraft in the USA ? ... Are they censored ? Should they be censored ? ... the list might be endless ...)

So, for Amerloque, it's not a question of "worse" or its converse, "better", since the three categories LASunsett posits do not represent the same things. In a fruit saland, there are apples, oranges, pears, apricots, nectarines and so on. Propaganda is a fruit salad. (If Amerloque were asked "Of three varieties of apples – Granny Smith, Golden, McIntosh – which is the worst ?" Amerloque would unhesitatingly answer.)

Amerloque feels that in general there has not been enough analysis: it is a kind of rush to judgement" … but that doesn't make doctoring photos any more acceptable, of course.

/*/ Another point.

You said:

//Asserting that Hezbollah was using Christian hospitals as places to launch rockets from is the height of absurdity, in many French eyes, especially since there just doesn't seem to be any proof forthcoming. (sigh)//

Keep waiting patiently there may be some more yet to come out of all of this, that will refute this. But in the meantime, ask yourself this question. If you were there doing what they do and armed guerrillas are mixed in the overall population, how easy would it be to be forthright and say that Hezbollah is using our grounds to launch rockets, knowing that they blend in and resurface at will?/*/

The doctors running the clinics and hospitals should know ... it's not a question of "how easy" or "how hard" in Amerloque's view ... Amerloque and LASunsett will have to agree to disagree on this one ! (smle)

/*/ In my view, this is no different than a street gang that has more control over the turf of a neighborhood, than the authorities. Cops will not get cooperation in street gang violence, because the area is always crawling with members and the locals are quite afraid of retaliation. In this case, Hezbollah is the street gang and the authorities are the Lebanese forces, which are severely outmanned and outarmed by the Hezbollah guerrillas./*/

It is not clear at all that "the Lebanese forces" and "Hezbollah" are not the same, at least now. Before the Israeli bombings, it was clearer, but now ? Nick Kristof reports in the IHT/NYT (http://tinyurl.com/hswmw)

"Lebanese, instead of turning on Hezbollah, are rallying around it. A poll by the Beirut Center for Research and Information found that 87 percent of those surveyed supported Hezbollah's battles with Israel. That included 80 percent of Lebanese Christians surveyed." (Of course, like any survey, this should be taken with a grain of salt, since numbers can be quoted to portray anyting and everything. (grin))

Best,
L'Amerloque