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Who's telling the truth?

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Daniel Pearl | 14:05 UK time, Monday, 7 August 2006

Have you been emailed about the website showing Israeli children signing missiles? Or maybe the site which claims that the Qana photographs were staged? If you're like me you've probably been sent both.

Newsnight logoThere is an enormous online campaign by both sides to persuade the world that the media is biased one way or another in its reporting of the Lebanon/Israel conflict.

Yesterday the story took an unexpected turn. Reuters announced that it has dropped a freelance photographer after, Reuters claim, he doctored an image of the aftermath of an Israeli air strike on Beirut to show more smoke (details here).

"The photographer has denied deliberately attempting to manipulate the image, saying that he was trying to remove dust marks and that he made mistakes due to the bad lighting conditions he was working under," said Moira Whittle, the head of public relations for Reuters.

But what are the chances of the online community believing that? On Newsnight tonight we'll be discussing the images the public sees, how they are chosen and whether they are manipulated.

Leave a comment and let me know what you want us to include in the programme.

UPDATE, TUESDAY 1015: Click here to watch the item that went out last night (including an interview with Paul Holmes from Reuters).

Daniel Pearl is deputy editor of Newsnight

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 03:37 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • David Ward wrote:

Daniel, I'm afraid you are setting up a straw man if you think it's just about whether the media is biased one way or the other. The issue is simply one of whether photographers are routinely staging or faking photos in order to get a scoop or a better story. The other issue, which I suspect you are not too keen to debate fully is the degree to which editord at news agencies, including the BBC, are using these images without fully checking their sources.

Take for example, this page from the BBC website Until an hour ago, the main photo was not of a guy lugging a suitcase but an old woman wailing in front of her destroyed house (see here). It was only when bloggers pointed out that the same woman was wailing in front of a different house more than a week ago (see here) that the BBC realised it had used a staged photo, unless the woman in question was unfortunate enough to have had not one but two houses destroyed by Israeli bombs.

The issue therefore is not one of bias but of scruple-less photographers, and users like the BBC who don't bother to check their sources and in the process ruin their credibility with licence fee payers who have to watch the output.

  • 2.
  • At 03:47 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Daniel Newman wrote:

Hi Daniel

I find the BBC to be generally biased against Israel.

This is because

(a) they often do not put the conflict in any kind of historical context; and

(b) they assume a moral equivalence between Israel and Hizbullah. When in fact, Israel is a sovereign nation protecting its citizens and Hizbullah is a terrorist organisation whose stated aim is to destroy Israel.

I really hope that the BBC will begin to offer a better perspective on the situation.

  • 3.
  • At 03:47 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Duncan Hothersall wrote:

The image of the statue of Saddam being pulled down by a military vehicle (when a US flag was flown and then hurriedly removed) caused a stir on the net at the time, when wide angle pictures were released which alleged to show that the crowd was tiny, and the square was blocked off to ordinary Iraqis at the time. In the same incident, some close up pictures purported to show a man who was identified in other pictures as part of a group of US-based dissidents flown in by the Pentagon. This lead to accusations that the entire scene was set up with US stooges, and was nothing more than propaganda regurgitated by the news networks (including the BBC).

With the perspective of time, can the truth now be told? Someone must know what really happened. I think it's important that the truth come out.

  • 4.
  • At 03:57 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Bernard wrote:

Clearly, there is a great degree of censuring going on as more realistic (and obviously more cruel) pictures are excluded in Western news coverage. As Benjamin Netanjahu said this morning on the Today Programme: if there were no reports on the Israeli bombing in the Lebanon, Israel would already have succeeding in annihilating the Hezbollah fighters [never mind any possible collateral deaths]. Journalists are clearly guilty and responsible for the high death toll on the Israeli side. In view of this, I do not care about how much smoke there is on a single photograph.

  • 5.
  • At 04:05 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Nader Khalil wrote:

The results of your investigation are sure to be interesting.
On a further note i feel it is not only the photos coming out of the region that are trying to persuade nations to one side or the other. I am tired of the lobbiest actions taken which limit the stories getting to the American public. I am from New York and when i watch an American news station all i see is a one-sided view heavily supporting our ally in the conflict (Israel) and when it comes to Lebanon they do not go in depth at all about the dead and quality of life. It is unfair to them and to the Arab community. People fear what they dont understand and i feel that the lack of quality coverage of more middle eastern countries and the Muslim religion as a whole has created a very negative position towards them in the United States.

  • 6.
  • At 04:07 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • daniel wrote:

So in order to remove some dust marks he added a huge clowd of smoke?

  • 7.
  • At 04:15 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • dna wrote:

I would like you to include the fact that the BBC site doesn't include any useful information, and plays directly to the hands of the Hizballah propaganda.

  • 8.
  • At 04:18 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Surprise, surprise, a journalist was caught red handed trying to doctor a photograph to enhance its value for anti Israeli propaganda and is now dancing around it trying to avoid the blame and shame of being discovered as a fraud by the world at large. This is hardly even the tip of the iceberg. Is there any wonder there is so much anti Israeli and anti American bias in the world? What people don't learn in that regard from their schools, political leaders, and religious leaders, they get from the media.

  • 9.
  • At 04:24 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Jonny wrote:

The media takes a 1-dimensional view of the Israeli-Arab conflict - its all about casualties, damage and soundbites, rather than analysis of why Israel views Hezbollah as part of a wider existential threat that it must, reluctantly, confront. Also there is no coverage of real issues such as the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, state-sponsored terror and the 7/7 bombings. Why are people in the streets of London proudly waiving a Hezbollah flag? Why is there no analysis of what this flag stands for? 1-dimensional approach must be changed.

  • 10.
  • At 04:36 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • colin carberry wrote:

While there may be some doctoring of photos in the media, the facts speak for themselves: Israeli security forces have deliberately targeted built-up civilian areas, murdering over 950 Lebanese civilians, one third of them totally defenseless children, while managing only to kill something in the region of 100 Hezbollah guerrillas to date. In this context, one has to wonder if a few altered photos or video stills will succeed in altering these central 'facts on the ground'. Israel has the most immoral army in the world, with the US army perhaps tailing it slightly in the murder department.

  • 11.
  • At 04:39 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Rema wrote:

Discussing now, as families are killed by the hour in Lebanon, weather war photos are manipulated is of poor taste. The fact that you choose to have this as a news item proves further that the media is biased. Is it just, that as Lebanese are killed, they also have the burden to prove that they are victims of Israel's terrorism??!

  • 12.
  • At 04:53 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Danny wrote:

I believe the UK media is passively, not actively, biased; for the following simple reasons:

- The BBC reflects the mix of the great British public which features some 2 million muslims and 200,000 Jews. The more the BBC tries to discuss bias in its reporting, the more it opens itself up to trying to "balance" its coverage in accordance with the number and strength of complaints/abuse it receives. In this case, generalised Muslim opinion outweighs generalised Jewish opinion 10 to 1.

- the BBC (and any journalist) relies on protagonists in the conflict for information/sources. In the case of Israel, a functioning state, accountable to its voters and international opinion provides the spokespeople. In Lebanon, in this case, journalists rely on Hezbollah for both information and - crucially - access to the "best" pictures and stories. Hezbollah, by its very existence as an entity unto itself, is not accountable to anyone and may steer the image of the conflict in any way it desires. For example, why is there such a paucity of information about Hezbollah losses? This is one of the most visible lackings in reporting of the current conflict.

- Lastly, the UK has always had a fascination with Arab/Muslim culture, language, history etc. Some put this down to the heroic TE Lawrence, whilst others argue it is another arm of British eccentricity - adoring the exotic and foreign. This "Arabist" culture has a significant legacy in today's tendency to view Arabs as hapless victims of imperial aggression; the eternal underdog.

In sum, the media bias is perhaps a natural reflection of the British make-up and psyche, together with the reality of the "facts on the ground" in reporting this kind of conflict.

Danny.

  • 13.
  • At 04:54 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Saif Kamal wrote:

Daniel,
The picture was infact shocking and impulsive reaction of Every Humane Soul Would be " Oh My God".So was mine.
But after getting over the impulse I thought about the propagandas I learn in my journalism class. How Credible is it. We can find such pictures in many sites.
The question of mine is not to the Israeli or Lebanese; i want to ask why such a action in which children are made to sign on a missile been taken. Its not a question of Nationalism, Religion, Emotions; but its about the Morals that we plan to pass down to the generations.

I think such pictures should be used to raise awareness for morality rather than Sentiments.

  • 14.
  • At 04:55 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • stan_expat wrote:

So Reuters has substituted the original instead of the doctored photo, said to have been doctored by the photographer.
So how did Reuters get the original ?
Did they have it all along ?
Maybe Reuters did the deed, not the photographer.

  • 15.
  • At 05:04 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Yair Horesh wrote:

There is a second picture found to be a fraud:

http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/

I find it alarming to see how the established media defends Reuters by hiding these incidents far from the front pages.

  • 16.
  • At 05:09 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Nick Collins wrote:

One has to draw a distinction between striving to reflect the minute by minute account of the events unravelling in the latest ME war which will inevitably result in honest mistakes - e.g. the most recent correction by Siniora about the overestimate of casualties caused this morning in Houla - http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060807.wmideast0807/BNStory/International

and the more relentless bias against Israel in which the BBC (together with the Guardian and Independent) are so skewed against the Jewish State that the war is only seen from the side of the Lebanese victims. To date, for example, it is unclear how many HizB fighters have been killed in battle simply because the BBC does not report it - thus creating the impression that Israel is "losing the war". The BBC wants it both ways - be careful - don't kill civilians in Lebanon even though HizB are definately hiding under the skirts of women and behind children but if Israel stepped up their campaign, and won the war more quickly, more civilians would die and more bad press would follow.

I have recently been watching Sky News - it doesn't pull any punches against Israel (which is fine) but it does put things into context (on both sides), reminds the viewer that HizB are not nice guys and are backed by Syria and Iran (emphasising that this war is linked to a larger plan by Iran to annihilate Israel) and one feels as if the Jewish fight for survival is more acutately represented.

  • 17.
  • At 05:18 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Michael Salt wrote:

I used to associate the BBC with independence and detachment. Now it seems to be all emotion, and readiness to believe everything and anything that tunes into your reporters own convictions that they are world standard bearers for a feminised 21st century liberalism. There is no sense of a British perspective or loyalty (how long before the Trades Descriptions Act comes into play?), let alone anything approaching intellectual analysis and historical perspective.

The BBC needs a strong draught of humility. You are privileged reporters (living off what amounts to a poll tax), NOT politicians or campaigners.

  • 18.
  • At 05:18 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Marcus Pearl wrote:

Some people tell me that it's not the media that matters but the Israeli actions. This proves the point that the media has contributed to demonise Israel and has been shamedly one-sided. If it gave some context for what is happening and refrained from using emotive terms about unverified events, words such as "massacre" and "war crimes", then the public might understand the Israeli position (and actions) better. The media must not play into the hands of the propagandists or the very tactics who the BBC would ordinarily oppose.

  • 19.
  • At 05:22 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Mike Berks wrote:

How is the BBC, Reuters et al going to make up for the last 10 years of doctored photos to support their bias?

Can we get an independent website so they can all be reviewed? Distancing yourself from the photographers does not extricate your complicity.

The Israelis and most well read people have known for years the Palestinians and Arabs establish “massacres” to sway world opinion, with ready and willing partners such as the BBC, Reuters and AFP

  • 20.
  • At 05:26 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Adam wrote:

David Ward, your comments are interesting but grossly flawed in that neither of your links work. Clearly it's even easier to doctor web addresses than photographs.

We've fixed the broken links above.

  • 22.
  • At 05:41 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Isn't the very fact that doctored photos are being released by news companies headline news in itself?

Why is this topic being hidden away rather then given a headline of it's own?

As the media is playing such an important role in this war don't you have a duty to make sure that the media sources are correct? And to make it clear that they are not?

The BBC coverage already appears to be biased against Israel. For example last friday there were reports of bombings that killed 8 Israelis (no headline, no article and just a small comment in the daily write up) yet when three Palestines are killed this gets a head line and it's own article.

Also, you seem to give low importance to reports which revise downward Lebonese casualty figures.

  • 23.
  • At 05:50 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Steve Holmes wrote:

I have given up watching newsnight (and other BBC news programmes) on a regular basis because I find the BBC agenda-driven approach to news reporting annoying, to say the least. I shall, however, be watching with interest tonight and, as well as the photo issue, perhaps the BBC could investigate the claims that the buiding in Qana where civilians died collapsed some hours after the Israeli raid.

  • 24.
  • At 05:51 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Manasi wrote:

And a Reuters photographer adding more smoke to ONE photograph is being compared to the Israeli army murdering hundreds of unarmed innocents? How?
We talk about the media using "doctored" images on us. With all their so called deviousness to me they seem to be doing a better job of telling the truth than politicians in Israel & the Super Powers that support them.

  • 25.
  • At 05:52 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • AEH wrote:

The reason i always use BBC as a news source is its unbiased display of NEWS ... generally if it was in favor of a side it meant that this particular side IS in favor!! So i think its not a bias issue ... its a truth issue. If you look at the different online or even broadcast news agencies you will find different bias....

On a different note... the definition of terrorism has been soiled by the media .... it is now concieved as an outlaw with the classic religeous brainwash stereotype... in my opinion teror is in fact what a group of people inflict on another ... if this war isnt national terrorism .. what is?? i think the readers know which side is the terrorized and which is the victimized!!

  • 26.
  • At 05:56 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • anon wrote:

Now what's the big idea pointing to a blog that clearly plays on the emotions of the reader?

Sure, having those kids sign the shells might be wrong, but one could probably argue that it might offer them some metal relief, in a sense that the people who forced them to go into the bomb shelters in the middle of the night will be getting something in return.

That blog ends up with pictues of what seems to be a hit car, and I'm having a hard time believing that an artillery shell hit them.

This is ridicilous; why don't you point to the Nasrallah's website, and call it a day?

  • 27.
  • At 05:59 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Mike James wrote:

To what extent are your reporters constrained/controlled in what they can see/report by Hezbollah in Lebanon? Can you give a comparison with the situation in Israel, please?
I acknowledge the potential dangers to the reporters doing it themselves, but you could do it by proxy (by commentators, discussants, etc).
Thank you - and thank you for asking.

  • 28.
  • At 06:16 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Xenia Barnes wrote:

We are plagued mostly with images of dead civilians, mostly children. Why? Why is it that we see few or no casualties among the Hezbollah? Why is it that Israel's rockets have seemed to strike among civilians? We shudder at the sight of the dead children, and don't ask "why?". Why? if Israel is targeting the Hezbollah, why are the civilian casualties so great. Because the Hezbollah have situated themselves in positions, among their civilians, their supporters, and through the death of their civilians, they reap the benefit of appearing as the "good guy" among other Arab nations and in the public eye.

Who can ask Israel to sit back, cross their arms, and trust a people who would use their own innocent civilians as shields, who have no scruples, morale or respect for human life, to maintain the peace if Israel stops bombing? It is insane to even think such a thing.

  • 29.
  • At 06:17 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • nema modgeddi wrote:

DEAR DANIEL,

I'M AN AMERICAN AND I HAVE TO SAY THAT BBC IS VERY TWO SIDED,IF SOMEONE DOES NOT BELIEVE ME THEY JUST HAVE TO GO TO THE MIDDLE EAST SECTION AND LOOK!THERE IS A STORY FEATURING ISRAELI VOICES,PALESTNIAN VOICES,AND LEBANESE VOICES.HERE ON THIS SIDE OF THE ATLANTIC,OUR MEDIA IS SO ONE SIDED.AMERICAN MEDIA IS SO PRO-ISRAEL AND IS CONTROLLED BY AIPAC.ALL THE MEDIA IS SO BIASED AGAINST ARAB AND MUSLIM COUNTRIES.THEY ALWAYS TALK OD HOW ARABS WANT TO DESTROY ISRAEL,AND NOT WHAT ISRAEL IS DOING IN THE GAZA STRIP AND WEST BANK.NBC,CNN,ABC,AND WORST OF ALL IS FOXNEWS.IT IS NO WONDER PRESIDENT BUSH,DICK CHENEY,DONALD RUMSFELD ALL INTERVIEW WITH FOXNEWS ONLY.THE OTHER ONES ARE SOMEWHAT BETTER,FOR EXAMPLE CCN INTERVIEWED LEBANESE PRESIDENT EMILE LAHOUD,BUT FOR THE MOST PART THEY ARE ALL PRO-ISRAEL.SO BBC IS BETTER THAN THE AMERICAN MEDIA CHANNELS.BBC ALSO POSTS STORIES ON IRAN WHICH ARE POSITIVE,LIKE THE POLO TOURNAMENT,ETC, WHILE HERE IN AMERICA THEY ALL POST STORIES OF HOW EVIL AND DESTRUCTION BENT THIS COUNTRY IS.

THANKS ANYWAYS
NEMA MODGEDDI,USA

  • 30.
  • At 06:27 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Jan Willem Heemstra wrote:

I think this soul searching comes late, but better late than never. We NEED the BBC not only for trying to provide an unbiased, undoctered view, but also showing the biases and doctoring done by others! What about the Quana photo's?

  • 31.
  • At 06:27 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Jake wrote:

The Islamists are fighting their battle against Israel and the West on several fronts, and their cynical use of the media should be thoroughly and critically examined. This includes, a serious self-criticism by the mainstream media, which will eagerly push poorly researched and documented "news" shamelessly staged or exaggerated, only to retract their mistake in a small article in page 16, once the scam is uncovered.

Remember the "Jenin massacre"?. I wonder if somebody stopped to think how many lives were lost oat the hands of violence, because of the poor and hasty treatment of this event by the media, including the BBC.

  • 32.
  • At 06:29 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Anne wrote:

Most of today's media seems to thrive on sensationlizing news and we have come to depend on BBC for their objective news coverage. The doctoring of the pictures seems to say that we have to sift through any news information that comes through BBC as well. The whole Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah war is sad in itself and this "doctoring" of pictures makes whole situation even worse. Pictures say alot more that words and it is important that BBC posts photos that are authentic in order to give their readers an objective view of the situation on the ground.

Anne

  • 33.
  • At 06:33 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Nik Miller wrote:

Please see below a copy of my complaint E-Mail to the BBC last week which perfectly outlines my perspective with no more effort needing to be made, and ignored, by the BBC editorial staff:

Dear Sir,

I couldn't help noticing upon reading over your Middle Eastern page today that you have failed to mention the Israeli civillians and soldiers killed by Hezbollah attacks yesterday despite an absolute barrage of stories, titles and headlines dedicated to the structural damage, killed and injured in Lebanon and Gaza as a result of Israeli military action.

As your Israeli correspondant seems to be sleeping on the job I would like to offer my services so that all aspects of the current conflict and the damage done to all parties is accurately and fairly represented on your site.

I eagerly await your response.

With kind regards,

Nik Miller

Oddly I received no response.

Nik Miller, Tel Aviv

  • 34.
  • At 06:37 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Nadine Hallak wrote:

Dear Daniel,

Well perhaps this is one dishonest photographer, but it's pretty hard for any photographer to manipulate the images of those children signing rockets, I think that's very true. As a Lebanese, I receive loads of reports from friends and family in Lebanon and can assure you that most of what you're seeing is very true indeed and in fact, most of it doesn't even come close in horror to the reality of what you see over there. I have friends who keep saying to me "the misery is beyond description" and if you need any further proof, well the live televised footage coming from Lebanon is certainly not manipulated, after all it is LIVE so I really don't think there's any fabrication on that end. Besides, I should think the amount of dead and wounded, the destruction and the outrage speak for themselves!

  • 35.
  • At 06:38 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Marcel wrote:

In the first days of this war I wrote to you about how you showed pictures of American or British chinook helicopters off the coast of Beirut and talked about them as if they were Israeli low-flying helicopters tormenting the helpless people of Beirut without any fear of being shot down. The Israeli air force doesn't even have these helicopters. This was just the start.

Throughout this tragic war your middle east reporters led by Jeremey Bowen at the head have painted a picture of one side being a military monster and the other side a helpless civilian population. While in this report you are basically admitting to having been mislead by other news agencies providing you with information, the BBC itself has consistently misrepresented the truth and used unbalanced images to deliver what seems to be its own far from impartial agenda.

  • 36.
  • At 06:44 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Helen Offman wrote:

I would like you to address the possibility that the photos taken in Kfar Kana were staged.
Why was there no blood on the bodies?
Why were they in a state of rigor mortis?
Why the seven hour gap between the building being hit and its collapse?
Was this whole event possibly a media circus staged by Hizbollah in the same way that the "death"? of Muhammed a Dura was staged by the Palestinians.

  • 37.
  • At 06:58 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Malcolm prix wrote:


The example seems a peculiarly inappropriate one.The journalist's agenda was obviously to make his photo more saleable.Reuters is a wide world organisation which is publicly quoted on the stock exchange.Their agenda is primarily financial also.Reuters must be furious at having their reputation dragged through the mud in this way.They have now been implicated in a situation because a single journalist decided to take a risk of his own. Is that fair?

  • 38.
  • At 06:59 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Pedr Davies wrote:

I see the Problem, if there is one (prosterity and History will be the judge of this), as the Mandate given to the editors of the news programmes. Political correctness in todays society calls for balanced reporting. The interpretation of what is "balanced" is left to the news programmes. This "balance" in reporting is the problem, as all news reporting should start from the premise of "what is the truth". If something is black it should be reported as black and not as a shade of grey!

If the editors and facts are uncertain then the news reporting should err on the side of caution. I find that "balanced" reporting is to blame in the main for the calls of bias.

  • 39.
  • At 07:07 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Eli Pine wrote:

Daniel,

About time that this subject was covered properly. There has been a tendency to accept fast and loose "facts" which then get reported, and that never get corrected. Even now the death toll from Qana is said to be 60, when this has been revised down long ago by no less an organisation than the red cross.
Even if these were to be corrected, Israel has opprobrium poured on it, and this fundamentally alters world opinion unfairly against it.
Finally its extremely important to recognise that Hezbollah are controlling what reporters can and cannot see in Lebanon, as reported on CNN recently. This is of course grossly unfair.

Doctored photos, staged sets, what's next? We allready know from HRW and the Red Cross that the death toll at Qana was not of 57 victims but most probably 28. What about the others civilian deaths in Lebanon? How many of them were Hizbullah fighters? How many of them are real?

Yet, the worse bias in the BBC coverage of the conflict is this apparently innocuous but constant reminder of the number of children amongst lebanese and palestinian casualties.

In comparison we never get to know how many children died in Sudan or Iraq for instance. Not even a rough estimate. Israel's victims are the only one to deserve such precision every time a death toll is cited.

This is nothing but the politically correct version of the old antisemite libel: Jews kill children.

  • 41.
  • At 07:21 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • The Dood wrote:

Another example of bias is the death toll count coming from Lebanon. For the second time running, a huge front page "40 Killed by Israel" type headline has been changed - Now 1 person was stated to have been killed. But the damage is done! It is now the responsibility of the media to verify these claims.

That is easy on the Israeli side, where there is open access for the press. However in Lebanon that is not the case - CNN mentioned that all the reporting was carefully guided by Hezbullah and another reported mentioned that Hezbullah had the reporters passports and they were scared to report the truth of what is happening there. (see http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YjVlMmRjNDllNzhkZmE1OWM3NmE1OGQ4OGQxMDA1YjQ=) for references.

  • 42.
  • At 07:31 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

It is naive at best to believe that one can read an unbiased story, or view a photo that "tells the whole story," or read news from an organization with perfect integrity. So we will simply need to accept that if we want a diversified view of the world--and that includes agendas, propaganda, doctored photos, biases and whatnot that come with humanity--we should read from many different sources, including those we don't believe transmit the whole truth, and ones that don't agree with our own biases. At least then you can be exposed to different viewpoints from which to view the situation, and perhaps even decide for yourself what to think.

  • 43.
  • At 07:36 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Richard T wrote:

The issue isn't only images that are being doctored and "produced" by photographers. A reuters employee sent a death threat by e-mail to Charles Johnson, owner of the website http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/ and the original person who discovered the doctoring of photos. You can read about it here: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3256534,00.html

Reuters itself admits that due to conditions in lebanon it depends on freelance photographers and journalists, much like the BBC and other news agencies. These "freelance journalists" are Lebanese and Hizbulla with an obvious prejudice against the Israelis, just like the arab and muslim journalists that work in the West Bank and Gaza strip.

Journalistic integrity is dead. All news agencies need to do is claim that an item was provided by someone on condition of anonymity and they think it absolves them of having to verify the authenticity of the news or photo. I think it's about time the journalist organizations of the world addressed these issues, which as opposed to providing objective reporting, work as part of a propoganda machine for one side of the conflict.

  • 44.
  • At 07:44 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Ryan wrote:

Why do BBC reporters uses phrases like "Hezbollah, who Israel call terrorists".

Mr Editor, could you please look up the definition of terrorist, and then use display some courage and call a spade a spade. Almost every western government including our own refers to the group as a terrorist. But not the BBC.

It is very important, if you are indeed impartial, to disclose when you are being directed, cajoled, guided, protected, or lead by Hezbollah sympathisers or activitists when touring Southern Lebonon.

Your reporters occasionally sound like they have been captured by Hezabollah.

Skeptisism is healthy, but apply it equally. To both sides.

  • 45.
  • At 07:44 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Yoni wrote:

Besides the fact that photographs are being manipulated perhaps you should mention that facts and details are also being manipulated, again today the Lebanese Government has had to admit that there was no massacre and in fact only one person was killed, should the media be checking how accurately the Lebanese count their death toll before making claims that over 900 civilians have been killed -they also haven't mentioned a single Hizballa terrorist being killed.

  • 46.
  • At 07:57 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Peter Shields wrote:

I'm amazed how the legendary British cynicism seems to go out of the window when reading the press releases of terrorist organisations or their carefully stage-managed 'press tours'.

  • 47.
  • At 08:17 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Joy Wolfe wrote:

Strange that Reuters should be making excuses about the altered photos when they have suppended the Lebanese photographer responsible and emailed complainants to tell them.
As for Kana, those photos of children's bodies being held up for effective and emotive photographs are a disgrace to any self respecting photographer or publication. Total lack of respect was shown for the children involved, and strange how the same two people kept being recycled to hold the bodies.
That is not to say this is not a real tragedy, but the truth is a major casualty, as evidenced today by yet another alleged "massacre" that turned out to be one person dead.
Why is the media so focused on the displacement and damage in Lebanon when half a million people have had to leave their homes in northern Israel and where the remainder of the population is in and out of the shelters. The only reason there are less deaths in Israel is not for lack of Hizbollah trying, but because Israel puts its people in shelters while Hizbollah puts them in danger in the front line
My condolences to the family of the Druse newly wed bride who was killed by Hizbollah fire this week.
It should be remembered that while Israel continues to concentrate of trying to remove Hizbollah terrorist cells and firing areas, Hizbollah is indiscriminately deliberately targeting civilians in Israel, in both Jewish and Israeli areas.

  • 48.
  • At 08:52 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Firoz wrote:

A lot of posters seem to want the BBC to take a moral position. They have an unassailable belief that one side (Israel) is morally right in this conflict and all coverage of the crisis must originate from this starting point.

Nowhere is this approach more apparent than in the news bulletins from US TV networks. Everything about the conflict is couched and framed in Israel's terms. The coverage is appallingly biased, but alarmingly, a great many Americans see it as perfectly neutral. That is why, when they come to the BBC, they are irritated and even angered by coverage that does not attempt to take sides so blatantly.

The fact is that some of the questions raised by coverage of this conflict are extremely difficult to answer objectively. For example, how much coverage should be given to each side? Should it be equal or based on the proportion of civilian deaths? When one side repeatedly labels the other 'terrorist' does it follow that we should adopt this language too? How much must we reflect public opinion, if at all?

I don't know all the answers to these questions, but I'm glad the BBC at least considers these issues -something you'll never get with the US news media.

  • 49.
  • At 08:54 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Rog wrote:

How about the ambulance that was "targeted" by the IDF.

We've all seen the one with the hole in the roof, but a quick trawl on the web shows more detail:

No blast damage, burns, intact sides, the windscreen pushed IN, etc.

The fact is that reporting is being strictly controlled and staged by Hizbollah in Lebanon. We are not even being told that by the BBC (and others).

  • 50.
  • At 08:58 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • David Baynes wrote:

There are two things that are patently obvious from the BBCWorld TV broadcasts received in North America:
1. Despite having plenty of correspondents embedded in Israel you have been finding it extremely difficult to get ANY worthwhile footage of damage to either persons or property in Isarel that supports the ongoing propaganda about overwhelming attacks by Hizbollah "rockets".
2. Despite the usual protestations about bias from Israeli supporters, the true fact is the BBC is increasingly controlled by the Zionophile British government and hence the tailoring of broadcasts to suit the equally Zionophile North American market.

  • 51.
  • At 09:13 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Nicola wrote:

I think the points have all been made in the comments above but I would like to reiterate:

- there needs to be much more context and much less emotion

- it would be useful to see some context about how information was obtained - for example, were reporters taken to sites under Hezbollah supervision or were they able to obtain interviews independently?

- there is a tendancy across the whole of the BBC's output to be extremely sceptical when interviwing representatives of governments and credulous when interviewing representatives of NGOs/non-state actors. I see this all the time, not just on this issue - whether wit is a small charity or a pressure group or Hezbollah. The fact is everybody who talks to the media is trying to present their case as attractively as possible - it is the job of the media to interrogate this presentation.

- I would have a great deal more faith in the BBC if you were upfront about correcting mistakes. You're reporting a war in real time - you're not going to be 100% accurate all the time

- Both sides in any conflict need to be held to the same standards as regards human rights violations. For example, targeting civilians, use of human shields etc.

- In response to the specific point that Reuters are making in their defence re how the photo came to be changed: as a longstanding user of Photoshop, frankly I don't find it a very credible explanation and a demonstration of how it happened would be appreciated.

Daniel - first well done for at least putting this on the MSM agenda. There will always be a lot of fog in war - but I think professional standards have slipped. Reporters appear to be under pressure from HezB to report and show certain things - yet we never have the caveats that this report was compiled under reporting restrictions.

The HezB media manipulation capability that is being demonstrated is a major story - lets see how you deal with it.

  • 53.
  • At 09:18 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Thomas Hartwell wrote:

One or even a few cases of photomanipulation or setting up a particular shot (though not acceptable journalistic standards) do not change the facts on the ground. Israel has killed over 1000 Lebanese (mostly civilians) and deystroyed much of the country's infastructure in a barbaric collective punishment of a whole country.

  • 54.
  • At 09:22 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Paul Miller wrote:

British media are failing to communicate important elements of this. The absolutely fundamental point -- that Hizbolla is an arm of Iran and Syria whose goal is the total destruction of Israel -- is barely mentioned, much less given the prominence it needs. Hizbollah's strategy -- of trying to get Israel to cause as many Lebanese civilian deaths as possibly by firing at Israeli civilians from within Lebanese civilian population -- is almost never mentioned. Responsibility and guilt for the deaths in Qana rest on Hizbollah's shoulder's, not Israels, yet that is not how the press would have it. Israel does try (often unsuccessfully because of Hizbollah's tactics) to avoid civilian deaths, whereas Hizbollah aims to achieve as many civilian deaths as possible. If this fundamental difference between the two is of no importance, then I no longer understand the world I was born into 42 years ago. Yet the impression given by the British media is precisely that -- that it matters not whether Hizbollah is targeting civilians; it matters not whether Israel is defending itself. There is so much outrage at Israel's action, yet seemingly none over the fact that Hizbollah openly targets civilians in an attempt to kill as many as possible, and openly declares that it wants to wipe out all Israelis. The media have lost, it does appear, all sense of basic, fundamental morals. What a pity -- for Israel, for the Middle East, and for Europe, too.

  • 55.
  • At 09:28 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Dave wrote:

Daniel,

You ask what are the chances of the online community believing the photographer's story about just trying to remove dust marks, as if to shrug at the futility of trying to make people see reason....

but this rhetorical question from you shows that you are uninformed and have not looked at the photograph in question. It is utterly plain to see that he added and darkened the smoke over the city, and that he copied images of damaged buildings to make the picture appear to show more devastation than it does. The marks of copying are vivid, the repeating patterns obvious. And Reuters has withdrawn it and all of this man's other photographs, because he so plainly violated their "policy".

You don't inspire confidence in readers when you display your own ignorance of detail in the situation you plan to discuss.

Overall, I think the BBC is so concerned about trying not to offend anyone that it falls into the trap of presenting a false equivalence between

1) a sovereign state, that:
- is a full member of the UN
- is the only true democracy in the area
- subscribes to the Geneva Conventions

and ...
2) a terrorist organisation with the declared aim of genocide.

Aside from that, we lack the clear reference to reporting restrictions that was used effectively during the "hot" phase of Gulf War II.

More importantly, there are some incidents that are so crass as to make one seriously doubt the credibility of, not just reporters, but also the whole editorial team.

A classic case is the Red Cross ambulance purportedly hit directly throught the Red Cross insignia on its roof.

My analysis here:
http://infinitivesunsplit.blogspot.com/2006/07/mathematics-sociology-israel-lebanon.html

The reporters on the ground must have aasked to see the vehicle. If they had, they should have reported the attempted fabrication of the story. If they had been refused, they should have reported the attempted fabrication of the story. To pass this off as the truth could really only have been a deliberate attempt to deceive the public.

Either that, or your entire news team are spectacularly inept....

Those who claim that these photos aren't the issue while 900 Lebanese civilians are dead: What are your sources if not the mainstream media? The same media that publishes doctored photos.

Also Reuters now withdrew all the photos taken by this photographer. Including the ones he took in Qana. You could see those in all the papers.

http://today.reuters.com/news/articleinvesting.aspx?view=CN&storyID=2006-08-07T143833Z_01_N07348592_RTRIDST_0_MIDEAST-REUTERS.XML&rpc=66&type=qcna

Is this also going to be discussed in Newsnight?

  • 58.
  • At 10:00 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • martin wrote:

I still have yet to see the shock in the pictures of the Israeli children signing shells - you can clearly make out the words "to nasrala" in some of the pictures. They are not signing messages to Lebanese children!
I recall troops signing messages to Saddam and my grandfather remembers fellow soldiers sending messages to Hitler from his RAF days.

  • 59.
  • At 10:06 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • A Thornton wrote:

The people complaining about the BBC not reporting the number of Hezbollah fighters killed seem to be missing an important point - there's no way of knowing accurately how many have been killed.

Hezbollah have reason to understate their casualties, and while Israel undoubtedly has estimates of how many they've killed, they're going to be too high: mis-identification of civilians as Hezbollah fighters (identifying Hezbollah fighters as civilians should have little effect effect since they aren't targeting civilians), over-optimism, and survivors they don't know about.

Helen Offman wrote:

Why the seven hour gap between the building being hit and its collapse? Was this whole event possibly a media circus staged by Hizbollah

Actually, Newsnight took a look at that one last week, on Wednesday - Peter Marshall's report. The upshot seemed to be that the building did collapse the first time it was hit, at about midnight, but that the rescuers didn't get to the scene for seven hours afterwards. Which seems to raise questions of its own, IMO, but there you go.

  • 61.
  • At 10:29 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • A Thornton wrote:

Incidentally, there's also a fairly obvious reason why the numbers killed end up being revised downwards - until the rescue workers have finished digging through the rubble, they're essentially a guess based on how many people were likely to have been in the building, and if any are likely to be alive trapped within the rubble. As more who were unaccounted for turn up alive, the figures shift.

The recent incident where originally 40 were reported as killed, but in the end the number was revised down to 1, is particularly interesting. Apparently, the building wasn't as fully destroyed as it appeared, and most of the people in it were found alive once the rubble was cleared. (Normally, this probably wouldn't happen - the Israeli army have some very effective bombs).

  • 62.
  • At 10:39 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • William McIlhagga wrote:

You say:

"..he was trying to remove dust marks and that he made mistakes due to the bad lighting conditions he was working under," ....

But what are the chances of the online community believing that?"

But these are obvious lies to anyone who has used photoshop on a computer. a) The original photo (which was available for a while) had no dust marks b) computer screens are self-illuminating, so the bad lighting is irrelevant.

But you put this as if it is tantamount to conspiracy-mongering to point this out.

  • 63.
  • At 10:42 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • eric atkinson wrote:

One thing I am convinced about is that its not NEWSNIGHT

  • 64.
  • At 10:48 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Adamush wrote:

I swear I saw Green Helmet Guy on John Simpson's report from Tyre (the one with the radio and a white helmet this time). Could the "distressed" ambulance worker be White T-shirt Guy?

  • 65.
  • At 10:59 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Carol S. wrote:

Absolutely hypocritical of the BBC. You are doing a piece on Newsnight about Reuters and the doctored photos.

Why not do a piece on your OWN fake photos that you....instead of admiting publicly were fake....you simply changed on your website.

Here's news to you....they are out there and the world are seeing your dishonesty.

You are rapidly losing respect. Why not get off your pride and tell the truth?

  • 66.
  • At 11:00 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Tony Bennett wrote:

I look forward to the moment when the BBC does an investigation into the sheer scale of media manipulation, faked photos and videos and staged set-ups by Hezbollah and the Palestinians. And to much more news on the BBC of Israeli suffering, for example the half million or so Israelis in northern Israel who have been forced to flee their homes. Let's see the BBC analyse the systematic use by Hezbollah of civilians as human shields - see for example the reports by Christian Solidarity International. Once I start to see these, I may once again begin to trust the BBC as a news source. Not until. There are many more reliable news sources out there. At least Reuters have taken action to recognise the serious stain brought on journalism by the faked photos of Hezbollah sympathiser Adnan Hajj and deleted all his 920 photos from their photo library.

  • 67.
  • At 11:19 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • John Riddell wrote:

News on the conflict in Lebanon, and in particular BBC reporting, has been absurdly biaised against Israel. A striking, if minor, example would be the reporting of attacks on UNIFIL and other UN positions. Lavish coverage was given to an Israeli attach which killed four UN soldiers at Khiam - a legitimate subject to be sure. But no coverage was given to the attack the previous day when a UN observer was badly wounded by Hesbollah fire and rescued by the Israelis. Nor the subsequent attack wounding three more UN observers, again by Hesbollah mortars, nor the shooting up of a UN APC convoy by Hesbollah small arms fire, nor of the fact that one of the dead soldiers at Khiam had said in an email to Lewis Mackenzie, the former Canadian commander of UN forces in Lebanon a few days before that Israeli targetting of his position (down to within 2 metres) was "the result of tactical necessity" ie that Hesbollah forces had taken over the whole position. Nor of the many UNIFIL press releases recording Hesbollah firing from "the immediate vicinity" of UN positions. I am afraid, to quote Jeremy Paxman, my reaction to BBC news coverage now is to say to myself "why is this lying bastard lying to me" - and it is the BBC journalists and editors of whom I ask the question.

  • 68.
  • At 11:21 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • S Rahman wrote:

So,the BBC will spend hours convincing the world that the photographs of the destruction wrought upon Lebanon by Israel is doctored. In the meantime Israel will continue killing little children & women by the hundreds and then arrange for monsters like Nethanyahu to appear on BBC/Sky etc & justify those massacares & call for more. The BBC in the last few years has become completely biased in favour of Israel. You have lost your objectivity & therefore in serious danger of losing your credibility completely.

  • 69.
  • At 11:25 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • thurstonmoore wrote:

What i find particularly amusing is that fact that the majority of comments so far condemn the BBC for playing into the hands of the 'Hezbollah propaganda machine' yet on tonights newsnight they have gladly allowed a 'blogger' national airtime to speculate that an untold number of the images that have been projected around the world represent the product of an orchestrated theatre rather than genuine human suffering. This 'blogger' is no doubt far less credible or reliable than any reuters accredited photographer and this is no doubt low journalism. I think its time to realise that regardless of any photographic doctoring that has/will go on what cannot be fabricated is the disgusting toll that has been exacted upon the the largely innocent lebanese population for a crime none of them committed. Our energies and yours Daniel are surely misplaced. Too many people have died already and for certain members of society to be outraged that the number of dead reported in Qana may be inaccurately high should be treated as an outrage in itself.

  • 70.
  • At 11:41 PM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Sam Yossman wrote:

Hi Newsnight,

As a veteran of international journalism I take professional interest in British coverage of the conflict in Lebanon.Indeed, virtually every bulletin leads with stories on human suffering in Lebanon, something all people can associate with.When it comes to the victims of Hesbullah indiscriminate shelling of Israel,Jewish victims are mentioned in passing, no visuals, no close ups, simply a wide angle shot of Haifa or another city.You know as well as I do, that this sort of broadcasting is intentionally biased in favour of Hesbollah, which often provides you with "Good TV".How can you explain
all these teddies and booties on top of a pile of rubble? Common, you begin to bore the viewer.This "objective" reporting smacks of mothballed Soviet propaganda. As a Russian speaker I have compared British TV coverage with Russian reports from the area, and it left me wondering, who has really won the Cold War?

  • 71.
  • At 12:05 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • John Blackburn wrote:

The programme will have gone out by now, but if I may say something anyway;
The basic issue here is surely that terrorist-supervised journalism is always inherently suspect to put it very mildly - how could it be otherwise when the reporters and photographers most likely to go to (or be admitted to) a terrorist-controlled area are those most willing to collaborate? A disobedient hack would lose future access for his network (assuming he wasn't murdered or taken hostage), and so anyone who doesn't want to face a stark choice between complicity and death will stay away. This is obvious to anyone who gives it a moment's thought, but it can't be admitted by the BBC, because they have been in this swamp up to their eyebrows for a very long time. The BBC, along with much of the MSM, made a compromise with evil long ago, and cannot easily redeem themselves. More likely the evil will devour them first.

  • 72.
  • At 12:09 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • name wrote:

"2. Despite the usual protestations about bias from Israeli supporters, the true fact is the BBC is increasingly controlled by the Zionophile British government and hence the tailoring of broadcasts to suit the equally Zionophile North American market."

But unlike the pro-Israel camp, you fail to provide any evidence to support your claim of a pro-Israel BBC.

  • 73.
  • At 02:23 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • beng tang wrote:

This is not the first time that news photos have been manipulated, an earlier example can be seen in the link below where a London Evening Standard photo of Iraqis celebrating the overthrow of Saddam had extra Iraqis added to it via clone brush:

http://www.bushflash.com/lies.html

To all those Americans who say the BBC is anti-Israel Biased, could it be that it is rather that the American press is so uniformly pro-Israel that a more balanced view appears, in comparison to be anti-Israel?

See also: Robert McChesny on Goebbels press model
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EWnOK48nUk
Where he suggests that the American press is similar to the Nazi propaganda model

  • 75.
  • At 02:47 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • ari wrote:

I'm totally discusted about BBC reporting.
I have cable and will ask to get another news channel to unsuscribe here in canada.
In 50 years the world will finally see the agenda of the BBC or maybe the fact that the BBC is threatened in areas of conflict and can only film what the other side wants the world to see.
Shame on the BBC !
It must probably sell well with the majority of Europeans ?
Once again history repeats itself thank God The brits and the americans are here to save the day once more.

  • 76.
  • At 02:57 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • sathari wrote:

why are we talking about the legitimacy of photographs when there are people being killed on both sides? Are we suggesting that these deaths did not occur? Are we suggesting that war may not in fact be as brutal as we imagine? It is more brutal than we can ever imagine, and this is what we may not want to face.

The question we should be asking right now is not who is to blame, but who is actually benefiting from this conflict. Hezbollah and Israel. Definitely not the Lebanese and Israeli civilians caught in the cross fire. Hezbollah benefits from one more generation of people in Lebanon growing up with reasons to hate Israel in case there was anyone who wasn't affected by the last Israeli invasion which only ended six years ago. And Israel gains by having a continued threat on her borders ensuring that the 6 billion dollars in aid that comes from the US mostly in the form of munitions, tanks, and fighter jets, continues to flow. Israel in this way, maintains its status as the 4th strongest military in the world.

Why can the 4th strongest military in the world not defeat a small guerilla fighting force when they claim to know exactly where they are, where they keep their munitions, how many fighters they have killed, and practice pin-point accuracy. If they practice pin-point accuracy and claim to know so much about Hezbollah, why are so many civilians being killed in "mistakes" and "accidents"?

If Israel has taken out more than 50% of Hezbollah's military capabilities, why are there more rockets being fired down on northern Israel than ever before in the last three days? Not to mention new kinds of rockets.

There are many things that do not match up. I should hope that a journalist's job is not only to report what is fed to them, but to investigate the facts be it about forged photographs, or government propoganda, or a politco/miltia's propoganda.

Our job as viewers, is to remember that regardless what side we are on and where our sympathies lie, we are never being given the whole truth. Our job as viewers is to understand the conflict by caring enough to do our own research instead of always relying on what is being fed to us. We should be asking balanced questions, not trying to support our own propoganda. Most of the time, we don't even realize that we have fallen for a particular view based on our own prejudices and personal attachments and sympathies.

Why should anyone watching any story about death and destruction place value of one human life over another? Why should anyone with any love in their life, not grieve over the loss that one faces when traumatized with war? Are we that self important? Do not the very religions in this part of the world, all three teach about the value of life on an equal basis, all being the children of God?

Our questions should not be about photographs. Instead we should be asking why we can not see our children in the faces of those that have died, why we can not see our mother in the faces of those who are grieving, and why we can not see our selves in the faces of those who have lost so much and are filled with despair and anger as a result. Is this really the way to make peace?

  • 77.
  • At 03:25 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Inna wrote:

I don't know who is telling the truth; all I know is that Reuters has now admitted to doctoring two photos rather than the one. Photos by the same photographer that the BBC has used. Other photos by the same photographer are in the process of being investigated. Some of them are "iconic" photos of this war.

I would be interested to know procedures if any the BBC has in place to ensure that the photos it uses are not fakes.

  • 78.
  • At 03:31 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Freda Saul wrote:

It's incomprehensible to me that the BBC has not included the fact--much less shown pictures--that every Hezbollah rocket is tipped with thousands of ball bearings, intended to shred people into bits. You can see these photographs on fair media channels, but the BBC is totally immune, and uninterested in the fact that, besides ONLY targeting civilians, and especially women and children, Hezbollah rockets are like suicide bombs, designing to kill and seriously maim all their human targets. Another thing you have never shown anywhere on the BBC are the x-rays of people who have been hit by these ball-bearing and bolt-filled bombs and rockets. Not fair? Not balanced? You just described the BBC. The Beirut Broadcasting Corporation.

  • 79.
  • At 03:32 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • monroe levie wrote:

I am an American, now living in Bangkok. I used to get very limited access to BBC news broadcasts thru the public television station in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Now, I get the broadcasts 24/7.
I am exceptionally disappointed at how your broadcasts do not live up to the BBC reputation for highly praised journalistic balance and professionalism. The almost partisan reports that paint Israel as the aggressor and perpetrator are disgusting! You're performance is as bad as that of the Fox News in the U.S., which serves as nothing more than a mouthpiece for Bush and his henchmen. You ought to hold yourselves to a far higher standard! I must note, however, that it was a breadth of fresh air to see how Benjamin Netanyahu handled the BBC reporter who interviewed him last evening. It was obvious that anyone with a decent understanding of the broad sweep of events in the mideast will not allow the kind of rant evidenced by your reporter. May I humbly suggest that you should read the recent piece by Alan Derschowitz concerning the ludicrous attempts to pain a certain moral equivalency between the attacks of Hizbollah and the response of Israel.

  • 80.
  • At 03:42 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • garypowell wrote:

I have read all of the above comments and agree with nearly all. I apeal to the BBC to read them as well.

Understand that the only supporters you have are useing the same very dodgy unsubstanciated figuers that the BBC and MSM propergates as FACT, as their argument.

"It is a true lie so thats OK"

No it is not true and it is not OK. Blood is now on the hands of the BBC, because it has made itself a PLAYER in world events where people are getting killed.

IMHO there are many more than IOOO dead in this war the vast magority is Hezbollah, but then what do I know?

  • 81.
  • At 05:30 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Milo wrote:

It never ceases to surprise me how strong the Jewish Lobby around the World is, constantly undermining violent realities they create so they will be held less responsible or even appear victimised in every situation. What next, our views will be Anti-Semitic if we dare to criticise Israel. Well here I am Criticising Israel for murdering innocent Lebanese civilians, destroying the Lebanese infrastructure, slaughtering the children and not having the guts to confront HizbAllah for fear of losing the ground war. To all the Israelis, if you want to live peacefully, then live and let live, let the Palestinians achieve their dream of having a home they can call their own. Give Shabbaa back to the Lebanese and release our prisoners and let the refugees return to their homes. Give the Syrians their Golan heights so that you will never have to worry about Hizballa. This is my friend how you will win peace and not through the use of military might, don't fall into Bush's Iraq mistake as I know that the Israeli's are much smarter than that.

  • 82.
  • At 05:44 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • James Ball wrote:

Daniel,

I think it'd be much more palitable if we received news in news articles. NOT OPINION.

I believe the media is a recycling bin. You all sit behind a desk and regurgitate the daily FAX from the correspondent in country XYZ.

  • 83.
  • At 06:38 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Barry Hammer wrote:

As has already been mentioned, the problem is not just doctored photos, or the lack of fact-checking photos for accuracy - it's also the need to be first with a huge headline, even when that headline turns out to be false a couple of days later. You will NEVER see a headline that reads "100 Israelis killed in a Hezbollah attack", only to find a few days later that the actual toll is more like 15. But you do see it quite often when Israel hits an Arab villiage in an attempt to kill militants (as opposed to simply launching hundreds of rockets into Lebanon and not caring where they land). When a headline reads that Israel perpetrated a 'massacare' somewhere, it'd help if you got some accurate numbers first, instead of running with the inflated numbers supplied by Hizzbulah (or Hamas. Or Islamic Jihad. Or Fatah), and then not even acknowledging days later that the number was overinflated. Israel stinks when it comes to the propoganda war, it's true, but news organizations, which are supposed to provide 'the facts, and nothing but the facts', don't help Israel by being against them in every military action they conduct.

  • 84.
  • At 06:45 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • mahmood wrote:

with all respects sir whatever happens with the photographs we cant deny the massacre of about 900 people of lebanon. and 70 people of israel. with these figures, one can imagine the severity of the bombings. i have seen videos and ofcourse there can be very little done about the videos unless one hides it from its viewers to give the wrong image of the war which makes the editor in a way partially accountable and responsible for the deadly acts.

  • 85.
  • At 08:00 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • naveed nawaz wrote:

Hi Daniel,

I think the whole issue about the photograph has been exaggerated. Can any one understand that what benefit a free lance cameraman will drive from darkening the flames of a battered building? Can’t they see a devastated building in the background? Can’t they see a sovereign country ruined by the indiscriminate bombing of civilian infrastructure? It is really shame to see a most modern military power of the world using such coward tactics. I see the western media as biased against Hezbollah and Lebanon. If Hezbollah can become terrorist by abducting 2 Israeli soldiers than comparatively Israel is a biggest terrorist. Israel has been caring out kidnappings of members of democratically elected representatives of Palestinian government. Why media is silent about that? Why does not the Western Media dare to pronounce Israel as a terrorist state? Moreover, it needs to be understood that Hezbollah represents the will of the people of Lebanon (If not the whole Lebanon).His party has its representative in the cabinet. He is not fighting to create terror as propagated by Israel.Infact he is fighting to liberate his country from Israel's occupation (Sheba Farms). Can Israel explain why it has been occupying Sheba farms in Lebanon & Golan Heights in Syria? If fighting to liberate ones homeland from the occupation is terrorism then I suggest all the wars of independences should be written in history books as acts of terrorism.

  • 86.
  • At 08:08 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • lyn julius wrote:

Congratulations to Newnight for exploring this topic. It seems that the manipulation of photos is but the tip of the iceberg. The blogosphere has raised important questions about the so-called massacre at Qana, where deaths were dramatically revised downwards from 60 to 28. The 'rescue worker'at Qana in the green helmet miraculously popped up again in John Simpson's report from Beirut yesterday evening, leading to suspicions that what western journalists are allowed to see and hear in Lebanon is being micro-managed by Hezbollah.

  • 87.
  • At 08:15 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Alex wrote:

"But what are the chances of the online community believing that?"

No chance at all. How it could be with that kind of change to a photograph.

"due to the bad lighting conditions he was working under"

Monitors have light you can work in completely dark room. So this more bogus trash from msm.

"do not change the facts on the ground. Israel has killed over 1000 Lebanese (mostly civilians)"

The facts on the ground is that Hizballah fires from civilians zones and many of their combatants dont use uniform. So that is a consequence of their behaviour. I find moral repugnant politicaly rewarding that behaviour. That increases the chances it would always happen in the futur.

  • 88.
  • At 08:18 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Ron wrote:

Its times like these that one would ALMOST wish all those that oppose Israel where to experience the exact same situation Israelis experience.

I'd ALMOST like to see opponents of Israel defend themselves without doing any of the things Israel did.

Id ALMOST like to see the children of opponents kidnapped by terrorists and see whether they want the army to try to retrieve them or to give up on them.

I also like to point out that Lebanon had a chance to fight against Hezbollah but it never did, despite promising to do so in a treaty, because Lebanon decided that as long as only Israelis die then it isnt worth the trouble getting Lebanese killed over.

Right now what we are seeing is Israel making certain that it is helping terrorists which isnt worth the trouble anymore.

  • 89.
  • At 08:28 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Mehmood wrote:

I'd like to know why nobody seems to mention the number of Israeli rockets, missiles, shells etc that have been fired into Lebanon. ARE THERE THAT MANY THAT WE HAVE LOST COUNT?

  • 90.
  • At 08:32 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • David Ward wrote:

Credit where it's due - I thought the piece on Newsnight last night was really good.

  • 91.
  • At 09:10 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Vinny wrote:

There clearly is a lot of manipulation. For instance I read different versions of where exactly the 2 Israeli soldiers were captured and what transpired. I find it strange that no news organization has fully explained and explored the contradictions, given that this purportedly is the cause of a war.

  • 92.
  • At 09:12 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Isabel Miller wrote:

Well I don't know why the photographer did what he did but if I was a freelancer working in Beirut I would now be pretty desperate for foreign currency because the price of everything is racking up - and why? Because the Israeli airforce has bombed the infrastructure and the supply routes and is placing Lebanon under seige! I don't see Hizbollah's rockets acheiving that in Israel. Or is that because the BBC has biased reporting???? Great real here. 1000 dead and several thousand wounded is attested by the hospitals in Lebanon as is the barely over 100 dead and wounded in Israel and these things are reported by credible reporters all over BBC, ITV CNN etc etc etc. A bit of smoke added to an already horrific picture doesn't change any of that however much right-wing Bloggers in America might wish it did. That's why we don't get 'equal' reporting. Because the war is not equal!! Because Israeli firepower and military technology far outweighs that of Hizbollah (like the UK's did that of the IRA). People can't have everything. You can't have heavy bombing raids destroying a country barely recovered from a long conflict, killing civilians in their hundreds indiscriminately, all far in excess of what the other country is suffering and then have the perpertrators of these acts be the victims of the conflict. It just doesn't happen like that.

  • 93.
  • At 09:22 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • John-Paul Coetzee wrote:

Media opportunities have been staged since the rasing of the flag on Iwo Jima. In fact the rest of the world learnt from America the importance of media presentation.

  • 94.
  • At 09:32 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Richard Wells wrote:

Daniel,

I think that the press and the general public are getting a hold of the issue of digital doctored photgraphs is a step in the right direction.

In your blog you mentioned mostly the use of this picture on Reuters of doctored 'smoke', while this was the first picture to be taken down I think it would be neglegent to fail to mention the other picture that Reuters withdrew (The Israeli plane firing two missiles - the second one being doctored in later, the duplicate buildings in the background of pictures) and also the pictures that the BBC itself has used in incorrect context (The duplicate of the woman outside her house in two seperate bombing incidents)

Also I think you should guard against this simply becoming another debate about which press agency is biased towards/against which middle-eastern country. This should primarily be about the responsibilty of the press to provide objective, factual informative news. The use of questionable sources is key in this, and should not be restricted to just photographs.

In this case the photographer had an agenda, he had to have a motivation to take a perfectly good photograph and spend time editing it, while his level of doctoring was far from proffessional, it would still have taken a little time to do. The question is why? Did he want to ensure a good photo, was he motivated by selfish reasons, knowing by dramtizing the photo he would more easily sell it, or was his agenda that of an Anti-Israel stance? These questions need to be probed and cant just be assumed. Also this leads to the question, if he had done a better job editing the picture, would he have been caught? How can the press guard against this?

The press needs to operate with a healthy level of skepticism towards all sources that are potentially based on bias.

An example along similar lines would be statements from Israel and Hezbllah regarding their fighting, they constantly contradict one another - Hezbollah reports killing a dozen IDF soldiers, the IDF says one person was wounded. In this case the IDF is a military of a democratic country with transparency (i.e. if they were covering up soldiers deaths, people would soon find out). Hezbollah in this case are either misinformed, or lying. Yet when reported the two statements are treated as equally valid, when they are not.

When the inverse happens and Israel reports multiple hezbollah deaths, and Hezbollah say they have no casualties. One of them is not telling the truth, intentionally lying or not. Israel can gain a temporary propaganda advantage by looking to have the upper hand, Hezbollah couldn't admit losses for fear of losing morale / loyalty amongst more remote troops. In this case a clear cut 'truth' cannot be found.

The press needs to practice sceptical journalism, especially on subjects where so many people have an agenda and strong viewpoint. The debate around the photographs needs to bring the press' responsibilities into the limelight, and not just be another shouting match about bias which ends with nothing changing.

Thanks for your time!

Richard

What is at stake here is the integrity of the international media. The BBC used to be a source of unbiased news. Alas it is no longer.

I was impressed that in last night's Newsnight you gave space to Richard North and that the Editor from Reuters admitted his gratitude to the bloggers for pointing out his error.

But it should really not have been necessary for amateurs to discover the fakes.

I would have thought that it was a given that both sides in any war try to influence the media. Surely the reporters and editors ought to be wise to this? OK, with the pressure of deadlines and the competition for 'stories' there is a great temptation to take things at face value, but it is lazy and unprofessional to do so.

It seems that not only are there faked photographs but stage-managed photo-opportunities. Correspondents have suggested that this is a trivial issue compared to the bombing of children, but the evidence of Israeli over-reaction comes from the same corrupted sources as the faked photographs. The photogrphers were not just gilding the lily, but seeking to influence public opinion.

I abhor war. In almost every situation there are more sensible ways of sorting out problems, but sometimes it is inevitable. When it is inevitable everything must be done to protect non-combitants - the Geneva conventions were written with this purpose.

However, when our sources of information are subverted by one side or another we are deprived of the truth. It is perhaps a good thing that wars nowadays are fought in the media; certainly the carnage of World War One would not have continued in front of the TV cameras. But Broadcasters have a responsiblity to be neutral and not to fight for one side or another. The BBC has become a participant in this war on the side of Hezbollah. For your very future existance the balance needs to be redressed.

  • 96.
  • At 10:07 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

The media has a lot of power to influence opinion, but as the saying goes "With great power comes great responsability"

Most people would understand honest mistakes as long as the media owns up to them. However, hiding this away in a blog rather then making it headline news seems to be the equivalent of a tabloid newspaper retracting a front page story with a small apology on page 7.

I often hear about how great the BBC is when it comes to news, but the people who say this tends to be ex-pats who have not noticed it's decline to almost tabloid levels.

Anyone with any intelligence knows that neither side is innocent here, and a fair media will give equal and balanced coverage to both sides. Making out Israel to be be the villian isn't balanced coverage.

The BBC is most biased against Israel in the questions it does NOT ask.
Such as, of Kofi Annan or any other politician advocating an immediate ceasefire:
Do you think this will stop Hizbullah from firing rockets into Israel and trying to murder Israelis?

Or: If Hizbullah had a WMD, would they use it against Israel?

Or: If Hizbullah wanted peace, why didn't they promote peaceful business after Israel withdrew in 2000 -- why have they been preparing for murder for 6 years?

Since Hizbullah killers don't wear uniforms, the correct term for such folk who kill is: murderer.

Police & army folk, who also kill, are the fighters, even killers -- but their aim is to stop murderers, it's not to kill civilians.

If your spouse is killed in auto wreck, even one caused by a police chase, she'll be no less dead than if she is shot by a stalking killer. But the murder is a worse injustice.

Finally, the BBC should look at the facts about Shebaa farms, and the UN decision that it is Syria's according to 10 of 11 maps the UN has of the area post 1966. Also noting the fact that Syria now accepts Lebanon's claim, but never did before Israel occupied the Golan Heights.

The fact is that Hizbullah doesn't want peace, they want to murder or drive out all the Jews. That attitude must change if there is going to be peace.

Israel showed it wanted peace in 2000 by leaving; Hizbullah never has shown it desires peace.

  • 98.
  • At 11:11 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • name wrote:

"To all those Americans who say the BBC is anti-Israel Biased, could it be that it is rather that the American press is so uniformly pro-Israel that a more balanced view appears, in comparison to be anti-Israel?"

I think you'll find most of the people commenting here are British. The idea that only Americans can be pro-Israel is silly really.

  • 99.
  • At 11:26 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Alun Williams wrote:

I think people need to take a step back and see how their entrenched opinion is leading to them assuming a bias on the behalf of the BBC. This whole conflict is made many times more difficult to resolve because of the emotion led opinion of self-claimed experts as shown above. War is politics whether it be an act of terrorism or a precision bombing campaign and can only be resolved through dialouge and understanding of each others needs.

  • 100.
  • At 11:38 AM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Sandeep Singh wrote:

The moral equivalence shown is astounding to say the least when you compare links
a) children signing a missile (Whats wrong with it?)

with

b) doctored photos.

Curiously, this same moral equivalence is missing when reporting the Hezb terrorists (totally missing) and IDF casualties(regularly reported). Why? Only positive that I see out of this bias is errata pages filling up.

  • 101.
  • At 12:07 PM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • P Langston wrote:

It's surprising that in all the above comments nobody has mentioned the process by which news is created.
On several occasions I have come across reputable Print and Broadcast reporters saying, in a matter of fact way, that routinely they and their colleagues are sent out to dig up "evidence" to support the news stories that their editors and newsrooms have already decided to run.
I have never seen this denied or even debated and yet if it is even partly true, its implications for our trust in the media overshadow even the arguments about the coverage of the tragedy currently being played out in Israel/Lebanon.
Well Newsnight is it true?

  • 102.
  • At 12:48 PM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • imaan wrote:

1000 lebanese vs 100 israili deaths. The numbers speak for themselves. Manipulating images for propaganda purposes that ist going to change that!!

  • 103.
  • At 12:51 PM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Jonathan wrote:

I fear the BBC and most of the British Press are the victims of political correctness gone mad. They caan't but oppose big bad Israel, big bad USA, big bad British government. You cannot go on indefinitely opposing with a soft voice the extremism that is mounting, reinforcing, arming and recruiting.

I just hope that all the blogs which are revealing the extent of the terrorists manipulation is going to become the big story here. The need to be shown up for what they are and defeated, along with the appalling Iranian regime.

  • 104.
  • At 02:05 PM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Michael wrote:

In 1987 I took a tour of a BBC1 news studio where in the sound control room I was shown a rack of 7" vinyl discs. These had labels such as 'street scene - no gunfire' and 'street scene with gunfire'. I was given to understand that these effects were used to pad video clips where the accompanying soundtrack was a bit 'thin'.
I was disgusted: was there any difference between that and doctoring images ?
I trust that this practice has long been discontinued ?

  • 105.
  • At 02:27 PM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Tim B wrote:

Interesting article here:


WASHINGTON - Federal authorities are investigating dozens of American television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news.

Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies' products.

... Among items provided by the Bush administration to news stations was one in which an Iraqi-American in Kansas City was seen saying "Thank you Bush. Thank you USA" in response to the 2003 fall of Baghdad.

The footage was actually produced by the State Department, one of 20 federal agencies that have produced and distributed such items.

  • 106.
  • At 03:03 PM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Paul Carpenter wrote:

Like many who have posted here, I have grown up with the image of the BBC as a source to be trusted, believing that its journalism represented the highest possible standards in accuracy and fairness.

And yet, I find that the scales are - sadly - falling from my eyes as I start to cast around to find alternative views.

The constant use of the word 'militants' to describe an organisation with declared genocidal aims, who are prepared to indiscriminately shell civilian populations is merely the tip of the iceberg. This weaselly moral equivocation puts such an organisation on a par with feminists or the 'militant labour' movement of the 1980s.

I have watched many hours of BBC output on the latest Middle East turbulence, and have yet to see the link between Hezbollah and Iran even referred to (although I would welcome a correction). Much is made of the breaches of the Geneva convention which are alleged to have been carried out by Israel. But I have seen no discussion of Hezbollah's strategy of hiding, unidentified amongst civilian populations. This in itself not only breaches the convention, but actually makes Hezbollah the culpable party in civilian deaths. Israel's soldiers are answerable to a democratically elected government, and are clearly identified by their uniforms. At the simplest level - Hezbollah are not.

I could go on.

For an organisation supposedly devoted to fairness and balance, there is at best a lack of nuance in the coverage, and at worst outright bias.

It is my profound regret to say that I will no longer be watching BBC news with anything other than well-considered scepticism, and I have little hope that the corporation will ever win back the trust of people like me.

Sorry, I don't get the chance to watch Newsnight, since I'm usually down the pub. So, my impressions are based on Channel 4 News, a couple of viewings of BBC4's 20:00 programme (much more balanced), a bit of BBC News24 and loads of radio.

My conclusion:

In general, the real issue - the hollowness of Hezbollah's case - has not been addressed at all by C4, and hardly by the BBC on their TV and radio output (though their website has some useful pieces).
http://davidp1.blogspot.com/2006/07/bbc4-vs-channel-4-news-vs-more4-news.html
http://davidp1.blogspot.com/2006/08/channel-4-news.html

  • 108.
  • At 04:21 PM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Mark Schuck wrote:

One of the worst aspects of the UK media's anti Israeli bias is in interviews. Israeli speakers are subjected to tough questions (actually they handle them very well)- sometimes to the point of downright rudeness, whilst Arab speakers get real "soft balls".

A really crass exapmple of this was on "Today" on the morning of Wednesday 26 July.

Actually it started quite promisingly. On the anniversary of Suez, a Liberal Eqyptian MP was to be interviewed. Interesting. Many I am sure will agree we do not get to hear enough about the non Islamist politics in the Arab and Moslem worlds.

The interview dealt with how democracy would be served in elections in which Islamists came to power and the speaker said he did not fear that. Fascination and interest maintained thus far - an example of good worthy journalism.

Then it went pear shaped. The MP was asked about the current situation and would, you believe it - what he thought of Israel's - I'll repreat that for the still incredulous - Israel's actions. What on earth did they think he was going to say?

Well - predictably he was critical.

Yet surely by any standard of intellectual inquiry, journalistic investgation or newsworthiness the appropriate interesting and challenging question to ask any liberal in an Arab country today is what he thinks of the role of Hezbollah and its Iranian backers in the crisis.

This was truly poor journalism. It failed to take up a rare opportunity to inform in order to pursue instead a rotten agenda.

In fairnesss last night's "Newsnight" seemed to be much fairer than almost any BBC programm I have seen for some time. As is mentioned above however "Sky" seem generally more objective.

It wasn't just adding smoke. He "cloned" a damaged building too, adding a copy of it over an undamaged one. See the images - lower left quadrant. If that is "removing dust" then I am Osama bin Photoshopping...

Then there's the one of "missiles" which were most likely cloned copies of a chaff flare... Same idea. He was going to get caught eventually. At least Reuters have pulled all his photos.

Can you also please look at a photo the BBC used of a "nursery school" said to have been bombed by Israel about a year ago. I think Israel said it was a bomb factory they had hit. I e-mailed you at the time to ask how come clean multicoloured children's plastic chairs could appear on top of a pile of rubble like that. Even if there had been a rooftop classroom, the chairs would surely have been dirty and at least partially buried after such devastation. The BBC did not respond to my concern that the photo had been staged. I did not even consider it might have been digitally altered. Was this one also br Mr. Hajj?

  • 110.
  • At 05:33 PM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Peter wrote:

Too bad that Reuter used such a lame excuse as 'the photographer was trying to remove the dust..' !!!!
You don't have to be an expert in Photoshop to understand that this does not make any sense. The picture was completely fabricated. That means only one thing: Reuter is still continues to misinform the public.

I'm just trying to imagine the moral outrage, the front-page BBC reports, the Media Matters exposés, and the general ennui that would result from Fox News being caught doctoring their photos.

The BBC, Reuters, AFP and API are, quite simply, no longer any more trustworthy as news organizations than is Al Manar. You have joined the enemy's side.

  • 112.
  • At 08:01 PM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Hazel wrote:

I agree very much with David Ward. Further, a compelling case has been made to show how many events have been staged by Israel's enemies. But first impressions count, the damage is done & no retractions are ever broadcast. Take a look at this site:
http://www.seconddraft.org/
Further, in last night's item, a Telegraph source denied using fake photos & stated that the children definitely died in the Qana bomb. How does he know this? Hasn't he seen the evidence to the contrary on the various blogs? I'm afraid that in the absence of neutral investigators in situ, we will never know what really happened.
But Israel is blamed as usual.

  • 113.
  • At 11:00 PM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Nicolai wrote:

Anyone with more than a novice level of competency in Adobe Photoshop can tell the photo was doctored. And badly, at that. Look at the dark clouds added on the left side of the frame. See that repeating, "striped" pattern? That's from using the Clone Brush in Photoshop, and you can even tell the brush size used by measuring the distance between the repeats in the pattern (the distance between the "stripes").

Those of us that use Photoshop for a living can spot this a mile away. No doubt the photographer was one of those people who claims to be a Photoshop guru, and hasn't a clue how powerful the program is, much less how to use it properly. And it angers me that people like this photographer are taking away income from those of us that have spent years mastering the intricacies of the program and have the certifications from Adobe to prove it.

  • 114.
  • At 11:11 PM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Ray Ellis wrote:

Even more disturbing than the badly photoshopped pictures, are some of the badly staged photos that the Wall Street Journal is exposing right now.

There's been a lot of lives lost in this war, but it seems that neither Hizbollah, nor the Lebanese government have any respect for the deceased if they want to dupe us in this way.

The cynical way in which Hezbollah is controlling the media circus in Lebanon is being exposed.

Time magazine stringer Christopher Allbritton, writing on his blog while reporting from southern Lebanon, casually illustrated this latter technique: “To the south, along the curve of the coast, Hezbollah is launching Katyushas, but I’m loathe to say too much about them. The Party of God has a copy of every journalist’s passport, and they’ve already hassled a number of us and threatened one.

And from NBC's Richard Engel in Lebanon:

KURTZ: Richard Engel in Lebanon, let’s talk a little bit about your efforts to cover Hezbollah. Have you had instances in which Hezbollah guerillas have tried to interfere with your reporting?

ENGEL: Yes and no; and the reason I’m giving you that answer is that until now Hezbollah has been very difficult to cover. We’ve come into town several times and only found Hezbollah fighters. They don’t want to be on film. They will talk to us off camera, but when the cameras come out they suddenly go quiet.

They’ve not tried to stop us filming other events while we’re in the field, but they have, on several occasions, threatened reporters here in Tyre, south Lebanon. From the location where we’re standing right now, we’ve been able to see, today and on other days, outgoing Katyusha rockets. And on more than one occasion people from Hezbollah have come and said, “Do not film the locations of these rockets when they’re being launched.”

At one time, when we were talking and having a conversation with this Hezbollah representative, he said, “Look, we’re serious, we will kill you if you film these outgoing rockets.” So it is a threat, but when we’ve been out in the field, we’ve not had situations where they told us to stop filming.


  • 115.
  • At 11:16 PM on 08 Aug 2006,
  • Steve G wrote:

It is heartening to read all the comments from the people who have seen the distortions and bias against Israel of the BBC.
I have been writing in complaints about this serious lapse of repsonsibility by BBC News.

After this is all over, there will one clear loser in the Hezbollah War, it's the BBC. Its credibility has been destroyed under a barrage of lies.

  • 116.
  • At 12:41 AM on 09 Aug 2006,
  • lynne wooldridge wrote:

Daniel, by now you must know that more than one of the photos printed by Reuter's was altered. A situation is being created by many news sources where people are going to go to the bloggers for news. After all, the so-called "professional" news people did not catch that the photos were altered, or did they care?
The unrelenting bias and anti-Israeli sentiment expressed by the BBC is revolting.
I will say that I used to buy amost every BBC production that I could get my hands on and to watch the BBC exclusively for news. Now I do not watch the BBC for news at all. Not only have you alienated the Jewish population, but those who support justice and fairness.

  • 117.
  • At 12:52 AM on 09 Aug 2006,
  • Sir Ignatz wrote:

My goodness!

What will become of the old adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words"?

Might this problem spread beyond photojournalists? Might political partisans find yet another way to deceive the unwary?

Who woulda thunk it?

  • 118.
  • At 11:29 AM on 09 Aug 2006,
  • GaryP wrote:

Hisbollah may be doing the performing, but let's not forget Israel is providing the props.

That said, I have just been in the UK for three weeks and was amazed at how the BBC can show image after image of the damage Israel is doing in Lebanon, but can apparently find no damage done by Hisbollah's rockets to Israel or its people. I wouldn't have thought Israel was making access to such sites exactly difficult.

  • 119.
  • At 12:38 PM on 09 Aug 2006,
  • Nik Miller wrote:

It is marvellous to see that the BBC has taken hed to these comments and is now playing a more impartial part.

This is clear through this article:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/5255758.stm

Although claiming to be an expose on damage across the middle east we see 7/10 pictures of Lebanese death and destruction, 1/10 of Israeli tanks firing, 1/10 of Israeli soldiers bemoaning the loss of one of their own and 1/10 amiguous photo in reference to funerals on both sides.

Very impartial. Bravo BBC.

  • 120.
  • At 01:10 PM on 09 Aug 2006,
  • Nahla wrote:

Its funny how one or two doctored images suddenly clear Israel of all the atrocities it has committed in Lebanon. Now we can blame Israeli shelling on al-Hajj!

That goes to show how Israelis never miss a chance to turn into victims. Over 1,000 Lebanese dead and the only proof was in those 2 doctored images.

Its a shame the world is ready to hide behind flimsy arguments (this and the supposedly fake Qana massacre scenario)to remain on top, even if it means selling its soul and consience for a piece of land.

  • 121.
  • At 04:32 PM on 09 Aug 2006,
  • Howard wrote:

The topic of fraudulent images and "news" stories is very important. News readers/viewers urgently need to know whether they are seeing pure fiction, heavily slanted propaganda, or unvarnished fact when they view news stories. You may not get it right some of the time, but you had better get it right more than 10% of the time... .

Propaganda may contain a grain of truth, but you MUST identify it as propaganda.

The images discussed here go beyond the level of simple propaganda; they are purely frauds.

Anyone reading or watching stuff coming from Lebanon at the moment needs to be beware of fraudulent material.

You're not the only ones who are showing severe lapses of judgment, though.

  • 122.
  • At 07:20 PM on 09 Aug 2006,
  • M wrote:

So Nik Miller, comment 119

Do you see the damage in the Middle East as 50/50? or do you see a different ratio? In either case can you please justify your choice ratio?

In general I would like to see the media publish it’s sources and context explicit in a separate note.

If I read a general news article that has ‘Baghdad’ in the dateline, what does that convey? Did the reporter actually talk to people? If so, how did he reach out to them? Or was he escorted from the airport directly to his hotel and under pressure to produce an article, did what the rest of us would do, flip on the television, check the wire services and summarize some of the evens of the day.
If so, he could just as well stayed at home.

If photographers are taken on a tour so see something, I want to know that this was the case and who organized it.

This is not a new concept….

This is the type of reporting one uses when writing a scientific paper. Not only do you have to prove your point or theory, you also have to be crystal clear about your methods so that a third party can check and repeat your results.

I know that this is all probably the editors job. But apart from the fact that mistakes are made, the media does like to tout itself as being the watchdog of democracy, and therefore they, of all institutions, should be as transparent as they possibly can about the context and sources involved in reporting on an item.

  • 124.
  • At 06:30 AM on 10 Aug 2006,
  • Rasha wrote:

Is there a moral equivilence between israel and Hezbolla?

They both have kidnapped personnel from their enemy (when israel does it it is also called capture, there has been more then 1000 lebanese political detainees in Israeli prisons some of them have been there for more then 20 years without any Indictment ever taking place.)


Hizbolla is in violation of 1 UN resolution.
Israel is in violation of more then 67 UN resolutions.

Both of them also sponsor and carry out social and health programmes for their people. As well as participate in a political arena.

Israel has been accused of genocide and terrorizing palestinians and lebanese by Venezuela recently and other over the last 40 years.

Hezbolla is considered a terrorist group by Israel, The US, Holland, Canada and Britain. Yet is considered a political party by the rest of the world.

They both bomb their enemies regardless of what human life may be wasted.

  • 125.
  • At 09:20 AM on 10 Aug 2006,
  • David wrote:

No, it does not clear Israel of anything, but it does show how the media is using information which is clearly wrong and utilised to bias the public in a certain direction.

Oh, Is the BBC biased.... is that even a serious question? Of course it is, any self respecting simpleton would be able to answer that.

  • 126.
  • At 10:54 AM on 10 Aug 2006,
  • Jack wrote:

Re Nik's comments (#119):
After an entire state, backed militarily by the World's only superpower, attacks a restricted area with a stated policy of hitting both selected targets (in civilian areas where civilians are fearful or restricted from leaving) and 'anything that moves', and countered only by a comparatively poorly funded, unprofessional, terrorist body, what exactly would you expect a balanced montage of photos to show?
40% Lebanese Dead
10% Hezbollah Firing Rockets
10% Isreali Tanks Firing
40% Isreali Dead

Since the ratio of deaths is about 10:1 and the ratio of suffering and physical destruction much greater, whilst I'd agree that the Beeb have chosen dramatic photos, perhaps what you'd prefer to see as balance would be grossly biased. And that would be in favour of those who have been roundly criticised for perpetrating a wholly unproportional attack.

  • 127.
  • At 01:32 PM on 10 Aug 2006,
  • Poyan wrote:

Many have complained that the BBC and other news organizations are biased against Israel. They say that these news programs take too much time mentioning rallies and casualties without discussing such things as the historical context of the conflict and the meaning of the Hizbullah flag and its doctrines.

These people clearly cannot differentiate between news, opinion and history. The responsibility of the news programs is to tell you what is happening and has happened in the world in recent times. It is not their responsibility to educate you.

I also fail to see how mentioning the history of the conflict can make Israel come to a better light. Israel became a nation through militant Jewish organization (Hanagah, Irgun, Lehi) that were very similar in nature to Hizbullah.

  • 128.
  • At 07:41 PM on 10 Aug 2006,
  • luke wrote:

Let's assume that Hizbollah are bad guys for a second and that Israel is justified in waging war on them, and let's put that to one side.

Now explain to me how exactly crippling Lebanon's infrastructure, bombing the lebanese army (who have kept out of it so far) & flattening large parts of Beirut & Tripoli (somewhat away from the Southern Lebanese rocket launchers) is justified.

I really wish I hadn't cliked the link to the EU Referendum Blog, as it made me feel very unwell. It's not the pictures of dead children that turned mny stomach, but the way that they are being used by people on both sides of the argument. The right-wing pro-Israelis are claiming that Hezbollah is collaborating with Western media to make Israel look bad. When will they realise that there is propaganda is going on on both sides. Trying to prove AP or Reuters is biased in favour of Lebanon/Hezbollah is one thing, but using the same grisly photos to "prove" it smacks of a cynicism I hope never becomes widespread on the BBC.
While it is true that the propaganda war is fairly important in shifting world opinion, the fact that pro-Israeli groups are claiming that the people clearing dead bodies from the rubble of Qana are "actors" sickens me to the pit of my stomach. This desperate tactic is also a tacit admission that Israel is losing the goodwill normally reserved for it by the Western media. I wish some of these conspiracy theorists could go and live in Lebanon for a while and actually smell the stench of death. Perhaps then they wouldn't claim that AP, Reuters and the BBC are controlled by liars.

  • 130.
  • At 10:54 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • Vince wrote:

Who will rebuild Lebanon? Who will fund it? Who will receive contracts? Who will replenish Israeli military stores? Who will be taxed? Who profits from arms sales to Hezbollah, Hamas? Who benefits as Lebanese goods and services disappear from world markets? What new weapons systems are being tested? What energy companies will experience higher profits? Who is buying satellite imagery of Lebanon? Who is selling it? Who will contract to supply a peace keeping force? Who will replace Lebanese banking services? Who will contract to supply a strengthened Lebanese army? Who will buy Lebanese and Israeli real estate at reduced prices? Who will contract to clean up oil fouled Lebanese beaches? Who will contract to supply labor for rebuilding?
Who will profit on the backs of the dead?

  • 131.
  • At 12:04 PM on 12 Aug 2006,
  • David wrote:

Re: Jack #126

What do you expect? war does not have this habit of being a 1:1 ratio.... doesn't mean the suffering on either side is any less.

I find the whole X has been killed here but "only" Y have been killed here. Are you people for real? would things be agreeable with you if for each one kill on one side, there would be one killed on the other?

Completely overlooking the issue, turning it to an amoral issue which is just sick...

  • 132.
  • At 06:10 PM on 14 Aug 2006,
  • Hilda Meers wrote:

Why, tell me why, or better still do something about it. I've tried several times to respond to the link on the daily e-mail, only to get a page saying the page I want cannot be displayed, further insinuating that I've typed the address wrong. While this is a good way of not getting a response it's no great advert for Newsnight.

  • 133.
  • At 11:20 PM on 14 Aug 2006,
  • Alan wrote:

If you get to watch news reports on some European TV stations they show dead bodies as a matter of course. In the UK and the USA you don't see this and in some ways you're distanced from the reality of war! It does no harm to know exactly what your fellow man/woman is doing to others. On the internet it is there for all to see. If for instance you saw the pictures (thousands) on the internet showing the cruel brutality of this Iraq war and ultimate occupation. Perhaps more would be done to tell our know it all politicians that this carnage must stop!

  • 134.
  • At 11:21 AM on 18 Aug 2006,
  • Nik Miller wrote:

In response to those who have responded to me:

Yes, I expect a balanced display. The fact that Hezbollah are less effective than the IDF does not detract from the fact that they fired thousands of rockets with the sole intention of taking lives, affecting terror and causing destruction. This is the important issue that has been missed entirely by the BBC.

Yes, Israel could do more damage with a single smart bomb than Hezbollah can with a Katyusha but does this mean that Israel are in the wrong for using them?

Hezbollah began this, they played with fire, why should they then complain when they get burnt? And why should the rest of the world be rushing to put salve on their wounds?

The BBC never mentioned that government initiatives in Israel evacuated the endangered areas thus limiting damage to life. The BBC never mentioned the 500,000 displaced in Israel, or the selfless families across central and southern Israel who took them in, they didn't show the scenes of desctruction from Nahariya and Haifa.

This was a one sided media circus from the start, I don't know why the BBC have this agenda but they clearly do and they are a disgrace.

  • 135.
  • At 03:38 PM on 18 Aug 2006,
  • Poyan wrote:

To David #131.

Are you claiming that in order to avoid the "biased" label news organizations like the BBC have to show equal amount of suffering on both sides regardless of whether one side dominates the other??

Do you mean that for example the BBC should show the suffering of Iraqis and Americans equally in the latest gulf war??

How could anyone regard such a distortion of the truth as news?

While people in Beirut huddled in basements to avoid the bombs that were destroying their infrastructure life was normal in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Many people from cities from Haifa also left for southern cities and completely avoided the conflict.

  • 136.
  • At 08:14 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • JMW wrote:

but on the other hand, why is it alright for the BBC to post on their website that (and I quote):“Raids on targets across south Lebanon have killed at least 35. Two have died in Hizballah attacks on Israel.” BBC is known to be Anti-Israel, although it claims to be a perfectly fair point of view, and broadcast their news in an objective way. If that is true, how come they wrote the above sentence? Why is it acceptable for them to be so unfair, and say that Israelis ‘killed’ 35, and yet two Israelis just ‘died’? Are they suggesting that the Israelis came up to the Lebanese civilians and shot them in the head, whilst Israeli civilians just happened to drop dead?

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