The phony war

David Perlmutter is professor and associate dean for graduate studies and research at the University of Kansas’s School of Journalism & Mass Communications and the author of books on photgraphy and war photojournalism. He is also the author of a forthcoming book on blogs which I look forward to reading. In an excellent column for Editor & Publisher he looks book on the flood of fraudulent images of the Lebanon war produced by the mainstream media: “Photojournalism in crisis.” Here’s the beauty part:

I’m not sure [] if the craft I love is being murdered, committing suicide, or both.

Perhaps it would be more reassuring if the enemy at the gates was a familiar one—politicians, or maybe radio talk show hosts. But the photojournalist standing on the crumbling ramparts of her once proud citadel now sees the vandal army charging for the sack led by “zombietime,” “The Jawa Report,” “Powerline,” “Little Green Footballs,” “confederateyankee,” and many others.

In each case, these bloggers have engaged in the kind of probing, contextual, fact-based (if occasionally speculative) media criticism I have always asked of my students. And the results have been devastating: news photos and video shown to be miscaptioned, radically altered, or staged (and worse, re-staged) for the camera. Surely “green helmet guy,” “double smoke,” “the missiles that were actually flares,” “the wedding mannequin from nowhere,” the “magical burning Koran,” the “little girl who actually fell off a swing” and “keep filming!” will now enter the pantheon of shame of photojournalism.


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