Staging and Faking

Breaking news: Reuters has withdrawn all 920 photographs taken by Lebanese freelancer Adnan Hajj from its database. Reuters confirms that two images by Hajj have been digitally altered, as bloggers pointed out over the weekend. (Via Michelle Malkin.)

I’m not sure what the implications of removal from Reuters’ database are, but if it means they will no longer be available for study on the web, it’s a bad thing. (At the moment, they are still up on Yahoo News Photos.) The biggest problem with Hajj’s pictures, in my opinion, is not that a couple of them were faked.

It’s important to distinguish between “faking” and “staging.” Reuters terminated its relationship with Hajj because two pictures were faked, i.e., digitally altered. It may well be that those are the only faked photos that Hajj submitted to Reuters. But, in my opinion, a great many of his pictures were staged, and, in my judgment, that is the more significant offense.

It appears to me that Hajj is a member of, or sympathizer with, Hezbollah. Many of the pictures he took for Reuters appear to be staged in cooperation with Hezbollah for use as Hezbollah propaganda. Thus, for example, as we noted over the weekend, the same woman was pictured two weeks apart, on each occasion allegedly bewailing the loss of her home in an Israeli air strike. Or the same wrecked building was shown on different occasions, allegedly damaged in two different bombings.

Like a repertory theater company in which actors play multiple roles, the same people tend to crop up repeatedly in Hajj’s pictures. We’ll have more to say about this over the coming days.

The question, obviously, is: How far did the staging go? Hajj took many of the iconic Qana photographs. Knowing what we now know about his techniques and his apparent relationship with, or sympathy to, Hezbollah can only make us wonder how far the terrorists’ claims about what happened in that village are real, and how far they may have been staged.

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