Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The first casualty when war comes is truth

One of the manipulated images which distorts the truth
In 1918 US Senator Hiram Warren Johnson is purported to have said, “The first casualty when war comes is truth.” However, this was not recorded. In 1928 Arthur Ponsonby wrote, “When war is declared, truth is the first casualty.” And besides the adage ‘a photograph never lies’, it too has become a messenger of disinformation. And now a photographer has been axed from Reuters for massive alterations to pictures of the recent Israeli-Lebanese conflict, Ynet News reported. Little Green Footballs and My Pet Jawa both highlighted the issue prior to Reuters withdrawing the pictures, as well as the entire library of the Adnan Hajj, the photographer concerned. It signifies a major victory for the Bloggers. The story also featured on Channel 4 News last night and other news organizations including Sky News have also reported the story. Reuters said it would apply "tighter editing procedure for images of the Middle East conflict to ensure that no photograph from the region would be transmitted to subscribers without review by the most senior editor on the Reuters Global Pictures Desk." The issue is not an isolated one. Photographs of football matches are often altered by picture desks with balls either added or moved for ‘dramatic effect’. Of course the changing of war photographs is a far more serious issue since it dramatically changes the truth of the story. “Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages” wrote Samuel Johnson in 1758. The true calamity, however, is the ever rising death toll in this seemingly endless conflict. Posted by Picasa

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