Reuters’ Double Exposure

Following hot on the heels of Reuters exposure cropping images of beaten and bloodied Israeli naval commandos, a look at some more photos taken in Gaza demonstrate that the news organization’s bias isn’t limited to the blatant manipulation of imagery.
Only a few days after the blogosphere’s outcry over cropped images prompted an Israeli government protest and Reuters denials, further examination of the news service’s photos and accompanying captions gives a very different impression.
Here is a series of photos taken by one Mohammed Salem, all on June 8.

Caption: Palestinian Shada Al-Qarawi (R) and his wife Olfat sit outside their tent in the northern Gaza Strip late June 8, 2010. The tent was erected after their house was destroyed during Israel’s three-week offensive in Gaza last year. Picture taken June 8, 2010.

 

Caption: Palestinian children Ahmed (L) and Mona (R) Al-Qarawi share a mattress as they sleep inside a tent in the northern Gaza Strip late June 8, 2010. The tent was erected after their family’s house was destroyed during Israel’s three-week offensive in Gaza last year. Picture taken June 8, 2010.

Caption: Palestinian Olfat Al-Qarawi prepares coffee inside a tent in the northern Gaza Strip late June 8, 2010. The tent was erected after her family’s house was destroyed during Israel’s three-week offensive in Gaza last year. Picture taken June 8, 2010.

 

Caption: Palestinian boys Ahmed (R) and Mohammed (L) Al-Qarawi sleep inside a tent in the northern Gaza Strip late June 8, 2010. The tent was erected after their family’s house was destroyed during Israel’s three-week offensive in Gaza last year. Picture taken June 8, 2010

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Caption: A Palestinian woman shows the photographer her empty refrigerator, inside their tent, which was erected after their house was destroyed during Israel’s three-week offensive in 2008-2009, in the northern Gaza Strip June 8, 2010.

 

Caption: Palestinians stand inside a tent erected after their house was destroyed during Israel’s three-week offensive in Gaza during 2008-2009, in the northern Gaza Strip June 8, 2010.

Caption: A Palestinian woman shows the photographer damage to her house caused by Israel’s three-week offensive in Gaza during 2008-2009, in the northern Gaza Strip June 8, 2010.

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Some photographs capture events as they occur and a photographer may have limited control over the scene. Others, such as the images above are carefully choreographed. The photographer has chosen to concentrate on a particular subject and has set the scene to fit what he would like to be portrayed.

The question also needs to be asked as to what prompted a Reuters photographer to choose this particular focus on Gaza.

We asked experienced photographer and imagery analyst David Katz for his opinion. While Katz agreed that the photos were excellent quality he said that they “capture exactly what the Hamas propaganda machine wants the world to see“. Referring to the lack of press freedom in Gaza, he added: “after all, they have to, or the photographer wouldn’t be allowed there in the first place.

Indeed, the photographer behind these images is one Mohammed Salem, most probably a Palestinian stringer, particularly in light of the security situation in Gaza that makes it dangerous for foreign press to operate there. Writing on the influence of Palestinian organizations on foreign news reporting, the JCPA’s Dan Diker noted:

According to senior foreign news sources based in Jerusalem, the vast majority of Palestinian fixers – often close friends of Palestinian employees of Jerusalem-based foreign news agencies – are ideologically motivated by the Palestinian cause, and actively encourage journalists to report exclusively on the “evils” of the Israeli occupation, rather than on the lack of democratic freedoms or human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza.

web search for more examples of Salem’s work reveals many more photos taken from the same scene and mostly of the same Palestinian family. Salem has essentially created an archive of stock photos to use promoting the narrative of Gazan suffering. One of his photos, predictably, has found its way on to the BBC’s “Day in pictures” feature (image seven of the slideshow).

Katz continues:

What is not so well known and often overlooked even by people who should know better is that the pictures are completely staged. When we look at the images and read the captions, we see children sleeping in tents, a woman standing next to an empty refrigerator, little boys with the Koran in makeshift mosques due to the fact Israel will not allow building materials through the checkpoints into Gaza.

All very powerful images. What needs to be explained though is that, at best, Reuters is being duped and at wo
rst they are knowingly helping Hamas.and creating the story rather than recording it accurately and objectively.

Where were the Reuters images of the two Palestinians executed in Gaza by Hamas recently and the six who died in the smuggling tunnels last month?

The images above may not have been altered as those of the Israeli naval commandos were but the bias on display both through the images themselves and their captions is far more subtle and insidious. Very rarely are the motivations of those behind the lens questioned but the end results are sometimes even more influential than a thousand words in print.

Reuters claims to be “committed to accurate and impartial reporting”. We beg to differ.

Please contact Reuters through its feedback form and let the organization know that its bias is unacceptable.

 

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