Fauxtography: Reuters fired unnamed photo editor over Adnan Hajj pics

posted at 9:50 am on January 19, 2007 by Allahpundit

It’s a shame, and I mean that unironically. When the scandal broke, they investigated promptly, fired Hajj, and pulled not only the two photoshopped photos but 900 more that he had taken. Tom Glocer, Reuters’s CEO, has been admirably candid about digital manipulation within the news industry, and even went so far as to credit Charles Johnson by name in a speech. It was refreshing to see a major media outlet respond to bloggers with civility instead of dismissing them as “partisan political operatives,” as Dan Rather did, or a “mad blog rabble,” as Kathleen Carroll did (as paraphrased by the New York Times).

But follow that last link and you’ll find Charles asking a good question, made even better by the news about the secret photo editor firing:

Notice how Glocer says they discovered only two photographs that were altered. Yet they immediately removed Adnan Hajj’s entire category and never talked about it again. Were there other altered photographs in there? We’ll apparently never know; the evidence has been “disappeared,” and Reuters seems to have no intention of discussing it.

As it turns out, not only were the photos disappeared, so were the people who knew the most about them. It’s hard not to suspect foul play; otherwise, why fire the editor on the sly? And why blame the editor, anyway? Back in August, Reuters was singing a different tune about how those photoshopped pics ended up on the wires:

Hajj’s two doctored photos made it onto the Reuters wire during a time when the service relaxed its editing procedures to allow prompt filing of photos from the Middle East. According to Reuters, Hajj has filed 43 photos directly through the agency’s global picture desk, rather than through an editor in Beirut as is standard procedure, since the Israel-Lebanon conflict began July 12.

If the policy at the time explicitly authorized photographers to bypass editors, then why fire the editor here? Is it because he/she was responsible for having set the direct-filing policy? Or was the direct-filing policy nonsense cooked up at the time to make it look like the problem was limited to one rogue stringer instead of having infected the editorial chain of command?

Update: It was “human error,” says Reuters:

We are fully satisfied, as we conclude our extensive investigation, that it was unfortunate human error that led to the inadvertent publication of two rogue photographs. There was absolutely no intention on Reuters part to mislead the public.

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Reuters and AP will never be trusted by right-thinking people again, but they do not seem to care, therefore my conclusion is that we are no longer their target audience. Seems like a case of ” where do you infidels get off asking questions of us?” scenario.
I might think otherwise if they actually did something substantial to regain our trust, but that does not seem to be happening.

bbz123 on January 19, 2007 at 9:56 AM

So, was the mystery fired editor named Jamail Hussien?

Hyunchback on January 19, 2007 at 10:06 AM

Ain’t the blogosphere grand?

locomotivebreath1901 on January 19, 2007 at 10:07 AM

Were they hired by the DNC?

right2bright on January 19, 2007 at 10:09 AM

They just photoshopped that editor out of Reuters.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on January 19, 2007 at 10:24 AM

This is amazing…I was telling a friend last night about “our” blogosphere and some of the things that have been blown wide open by it. Talked about Rathergate, and then at length on the Reuters Fauxtography…and this morning, it was the first item. HAD to pass the link on to the friend. I just LOVE this site – and all of you eagle-eyed and diligent watchers of media mischief.

I’m proud to be among you!!

tickleddragon on January 19, 2007 at 10:24 AM

GET OVER IT YOU STUPID NEOCONS! He Hajj was just removing a scratch! Anyone could see that!

RightWinged on January 19, 2007 at 10:50 AM

Any time a scandal reaches the point where “unnamed” employees are fired … it’s the beginning of another scandal.

Nobody was fired. It’s a sham. It’s a routine to end a controversy by issuing a press release announcing that you have concluded an internal investigation and fired the people responsible, although you leave those people “unnamed” as to render it unverifiable. At this point, the angry mobs all somehow feel justice is done and retreat to their holes in the ground.

“Unnamed source” = fiction
“Unnamed employee” = fiction

Gregor on January 19, 2007 at 10:55 AM

Curiouser and curiouser…..

labwrs on January 19, 2007 at 10:56 AM

Are we actually seeing the blastocyst of media accountability here? Eh, probably not.

Iblis on January 19, 2007 at 11:07 AM

If some other company or a political administration was accused of some non-criminal but serious scandal and an internal investigation was done which led to someone being fired and the accused company or administration refused to divulge the name of the terminated; wouldn’t Reuters and every other media source be shouting the loudest and righteously so?

Perchant on January 19, 2007 at 11:27 AM

Let’s put these quotes in perspective….

“There was absolutely no intention on Reuters part to mislead the public.”

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

“If it doesn’t fit, you must aquit.”


Mazztek on January 19, 2007 at 12:19 PM

That smoke looks PITIFUL. A monkey with a mouse could have done better.


seejanemom on January 19, 2007 at 12:31 PM

I strongly recommend that everyone check out the commentary on this at LGF.

There is lots of interesting things being discussed.

For example:

What’s our old buddy Hajj doing these days? Why so quiet? Settlement and gag agreement, perhaps? Another pseudonym, perhaps?

One reason, you might fire an editor so quickly and quietly is because it was the editor, not Hajj who did the doctoring. It is on thing to have to pull the work a single fauxtographer, and quite another to have to pull the work of an entire editoral desk.

dinasour on January 19, 2007 at 12:48 PM

Partisan political operatives” – Dan Rather

Mad blog rabble” – Kathleen Carroll

and, wearing badge with honor, our deity, AP:

one of the right-wing bloggers whose “wild and hateful claims” helped destroy CBS’s story about the Bush National Guard memos, which pleases him to no end

Entelechy on January 19, 2007 at 1:13 PM

Now that Reuters has had the opportunity to question their editors and go thru their photo archive looking for more fakery, will they inform the public of the deceptions they’ve discovered so that people don’t continue to get wrong impressions if they see these images?

It seems like a question that Reuters would be forced to answer even if Michelle Malkin or Charles Johnson made the inquiry. If they lie and say there were no others they will be challenging lots of people to prove them wrong.

Perchant on January 19, 2007 at 3:58 PM

Yeah, the company I work for does this as well.

Sorry about the data corruption on your system. We’ve… um… fired three unnamed developers over this.

No really, we fired them, but we can’t tell anyone their names. But it’s a bold stance by us to clarify how important this is.

Later, in a team meeting “Guys, try to stop doing this, we’ve fired 439 ‘unnamed’ developers this month alone”.

Ok, maybe the above is entirely fictional, but how would you know the difference?

gekkobear on January 20, 2007 at 4:48 AM

My favorite of the Reuters Fauxtography photos was the Lebanese ambulance that was “struck by an Israeli missile”. A close look at that rusted-out, worn-out hulk of an ambulance showed even a layman like myself that the alleged missile strike hole in the center of the roof was a flange for an ambulance light.

Not only that but the area around the flange was all badly rusted, to a degree that would take much longer than a week or two to oxidize. In other words, it was most likely an old junked ambulance with no visible evidence of being struck by anything.

One can reasonably surmise the junk ambulance was apparently conveniently available for a propaganda photo. Careless, sloppy work for propaganda.

DavePa on January 20, 2007 at 11:04 PM