War Is Terrible (edited 16 Aug)
We all know that, don't we?
Maybe not, because what is even worse, in my humble opinion, is its glorification, which to me ranks alongside profiteering, the hallmark of oil companies and arms dealers, as being particularly heinous. Some are guilty of both crimes against humanity.
Those of you in Indonesia with access to the issue of the Jakarta Post of 15th August, please turn to page 11 where you'll see this picture.
The main story is headlined Baghdad bombers slaughter 57 people in market blitz
, illustrated with this photo provided by Reuters and taken by Thaier Al-Sudani. I can't find it online or on the Reuter's site
so I'm afraid you'll have to make do with this scan. (Anyone wanting a fuller sized version, please email me.)
The caption below this photo is as follows: TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION: An Iraqi woman reacts at the site of multiple attacks in Baghdad on Monday
. It goes on to say that at least 56 died, a figure at variance with the headline.
Look closely at the photo.
How many buildings have suffered from 'multiple attacks'?
It looks like just one to me, and that was probably the result of one bomb.
Now look at the woman who dominates the right foreground. Compare the clarity of detail and contrast it with the left middle ground and background which seem to be dusty, as you'd imagine a bomb site to be. Could this be a photoshopped image?
Dead right! Look at her outstretched right hand, in the middle of the picture. On the edge of her forefinger, at the top of her hand as it were, you should be able to make out a black line, which is all that remains of a previous background. In fact, her whole outline is just too 'clean' to be part of this composition.
And what is her reaction? She doesn't seem too unhappy about the devastation behind her, let alone the 56/7 deaths.
Now I don't wish to portray Thaier Al-Sudani as a fraud. After all, a Google search for his photos shows this one
and an impressive portfolio
of a war photographer in Iraq.
Actually, I could well believe that it's a Reuter's botch up in its search for short-term profits. After all, as noted in the link I gave yesterday
, they've been doing it about the collateral damage in Beirut.
I seemed to recall having seen this particular elderly lady in some other photos. In those, she was making her way carefully over other ruined buildings ~ but not in Baghdad. Supposedly she was in Beirut, so I've tracked down the link I found a week ago
. She's dressed slightly differently and maybe it's the middle-age which I remember. That and the composition of the photo.
I am not a full time journalist nor do I seek payment for my writings. It is curiosity that has brought me this far. So here are a few questions you may be able to help me with.
1. Was there a similar picture in the Tuesday 15th issue of Kompas
, which, like the Jakarta Post, is published by the Gramedia Group? If so, please scan it and send it to me.
2. If I am correct in my supposition, how come the full-time, paid, journalists, sub-editors, tea boys or whoever didn't spot what is blatantly obvious?
3. 56 or 57? How come the copy editors didn't spot that one?
4. What if this were supposedly a picture of the aftermath of another bomb in Beirut. What would you be supposed to think about the Israelis?
All I can accuse the Jakarta Post of is a degree of complacency. As they probably bought the syndicated photo from Reuters in good faith, I doubt that, in this instance, they have a hidden agenda, although Reuters might. The size and prominence of the photo does, however, indicate the Jakarta Post editor's view of the importance of this particular story.
It's a shame that I won't again be able to offer him the same degree of trust as before. But, perhaps, not a shame that complacency does not qualify him for an Unspun award
.(I am open to any suggestions for wiki-type changes to this post. Please comment below or email me.)