Monday, January 16, 2006
Al Jezeera on the Hudson
Is a fake staged photo fit to print? What if it is staged in a way that makes the US forces fighting the War on Terror look cruel and ineffective? The evidence argues that yes, it can run, and in a prominent position - at least in the case of the New York Times website.
The only problem is that the long cylindrical item with a conical tip pictured with the boy and the man is not a missile at all. It is an old artillery shell. Not something that would have been fired from a Predator. Indeed, something that must have been found elsewhere and posed with the ruins and the little boy as a means at pulling of the heartstrings of the gullible readers of the New York Times.
So the formerly authoritative New York Times has published a picture distributed around the world on the home page of its website, using a prop which must have been artfully placed to create a false dramatic impression of cruel incompetence on the part of US forces. Not only did the editors lack the basic knowledge necessary to detect the fake, they didn’t bother to run the photo past anyone with such knowledge before exposing the world to it.
There is an old saying in journalism about stories which editors really want to run: “too good to check.” It is plainly clear that the New York Times thought this story was too good to check. Their standard of “good” is painfully obvious to all.
Without the internet and blogosphere, probably they would have gotten away with it.