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This is just alllllll kinds of wrong

This is the fighting in Libya. This picture bugs the shit out of me, and I’m struggling to put together a coherent post about it.

I’m not calling fake. These photographers put themselves in actual danger. The photo is nicked from this article describing the four NY Times journalists (including the lady at the far left of this shot) who were later picked up by Gaddafi’s goons at a checkpoint and given a very rough week before being released.

And we certainly have a proud tradition of embedded journalists who show courage and provide a valuable service in times of war. So I’m not knocking that.

But this thing here, this smells wrong. That young man can’t be firing at anything significant, or they’d all be hauling ass for cover. So, he’s…what? Posing? Mmm.

I just. I dunno. When reporters seemingly outnumber the thing being reported upon three to one — and all the cameras point the same way — they aren’t so much reporting as shaping the narrative.

All the cameras but one. The guy who took this picture told me something a lot more interesting than an image of another angry young brown fellow with a shoulder-fired doo-dah.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 22, 2011, 10:11 pm

All the photos in the article make it look like reporters outnumbered rebels three to one. But, then, it is a Daily Mail article, so they could be taking the piss.

I don’t trust the Mail, but their tabloidy approach means they’ll run photos like this when, say, the Gray Lady wouldn’t.

Comment from BuckNutty
Time: March 22, 2011, 10:17 pm

RPG. Doo-dahs are bigger

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 22, 2011, 10:22 pm

Let us pause to remember the hilarity that was Flat Fatima.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: March 22, 2011, 10:42 pm

Well there goes your chances of being invited to the “right” parties right down the loo…

Tsk, tsk…

Comment from Anonymous
Time: March 22, 2011, 10:45 pm

Do they have the little signs pointing out the best spots to take pictures from like they do at Disney World?

Weep or go postal? Decisions, decisions…

Comment from Mike C.
Time: March 22, 2011, 10:53 pm

Oh, fie – those last two were from me.

Anyway, one thing this brings to mind is those scenes (I think there were two) from the movie “The Right Stuff” of the reporters swarming to a background noise of good old Nikon F motor drives, which sounded remarkably like what one would expect a truly Biblical swarm of locusts would sound like as they descended upon your fields to destroy them utterly.

Sorry, but recent and continuing events have not left me in my “happy place.” For about the last decade or two.

Comment from JeffS
Time: March 22, 2011, 11:42 pm

It’s about supporting Obama’s stupidity, by making the most of this (probably) short-lived rebellion.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 23, 2011, 12:06 am

How I used to envy those motor drives…

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: March 23, 2011, 12:15 am

I’ve never read it, but there is a book by Phillip Knightley titled “The First Casualty: the War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker from the Crimea to ___” It was first published in 1975, when the blank read “Kosovo”: I see that on the 2004 edition it said “Iraq.” My parents read it and liked it. . .anyway, I think the title and subtitle kinda sums it up. And not just for war journalists. Just as law enforcement sting operations sometimes seem to edge dangerously close to entrapment, so do investigative journalists frequently seem to be skirting the boundary between actual and manufactured news.

Comment from Mono The Elderish
Time: March 23, 2011, 12:50 am

huh, same general category as a afghani tribesman with a ipod… doesnt make any DAMN sense….. THEIR DOING IT WRONG!

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: March 23, 2011, 1:00 am

Hey, what ELSE would one expect from ABCNNBCBS and their dead-tree fellow travelers?

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: March 23, 2011, 1:33 am

I have a killer shot of an event in Israel with a weeping woman at the palestinian restraining wall, with 831927 cameramen pointed at her, and a little boy standing back a ways giggling at the sight. It tells the tale pretty starkly.

Comment from Oceania
Time: March 23, 2011, 5:06 am

I find it hilarious that millions of innocent people have died in various muslim countries invaded by the USA on stories they just made up!

I find the deaths of millions of innocent humans based on known lies supported by brain washed nationalists and phony national security threats really funny.

Comment from gebrauchshund
Time: March 23, 2011, 7:02 am

When you mentioned “Flat Fatima” my first thought was that it was some kind of reference to Rachel Corrie.

I bet Oceania absolutely pissed himself laughing over that one.

Comment from scubafreak
Time: March 23, 2011, 7:55 am

GB, PLEASE don’t get Oceania/Flashheart started on that subject, or we are going to be getting endless cracks about the Rachel Corrie special at IHOP, or at nutrasystems, et al….

Comment from Oceania
Time: March 23, 2011, 8:42 am

I think that we should invite SCA over here with his Corrie pic collection ….

Proudly brought to you by Catepillar – now all Made in China!

Comment from Truman North
Time: March 23, 2011, 11:38 am

“Truthy” photojournalism is a longstanding tradition– older than the MFM itself.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 23, 2011, 12:37 pm

Yeah, haven’t they worked out that Mathew Brady — the father of photojournalism — dragged corpses around and posed live soldiers on the ground to make the American Civil War more photogenic?

It still sucks.

Comment from Ric Locke
Time: March 23, 2011, 2:12 pm

Ubiquitous, real-time or near-real-time images and video are, and will continue to be, one of those things like printing and steam engines — huge unforeseen consequences.

What were the guys who first put a camera on a cell phone thinking? I don’t know which is more boggling: the idea that they had no idea where it would lead, or that they did.


Comment from Mumbles
Time: March 23, 2011, 2:40 pm

In a similar vein, I also look askance at the reportage that the downed US Airmen were greeted as heroes by the locals. I call BS. Beck last week reported that Muammar G’daffy told Geo. Soros he was down with George’s “Open Society” and wanted to be seen as a friend of the U.S.

Soros AND Cass Sunstein recommended a Boston PR firm who specialize in rehabilitating the images of countries! This nugget about locals all of a sudden loving fighters from The Great Satan, sounds quite PRish.

Comment from some vegetable
Time: March 23, 2011, 3:06 pm

Actually Catapillars are still a US product. Interestingly enough, back in the early 90’s they stood up and faced down their unions and forced them into a sustainable agreement. This, at the same time GM was buying peace with the UAW. Catapillar has done very well (you should see their new hybrid bulldozers) while GM – Not so much.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 23, 2011, 3:34 pm

You’re absolutely right, Ric. Witness the latest images out of Japan.

It’s not entirely a good thing. People are terribly, terribly reactive to pictures. So they may accept that war involves death, but gory pictures make them hyperventilate.

If you think the truth trumps everything, then why don’t we illustrate articles about life-saving surgeries with images of bloody sponges, scalpels cutting into flesh and huge incision scars?

Comment from jwpaine
Time: March 23, 2011, 3:34 pm

Reminds me of the media-swarm at Ward Churchill’s post-firing drum-circle.*

* Me, shamelessly link-whoring for a fifth of a century.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: March 23, 2011, 3:44 pm

Oceania? Aren’t we at war with them? Haven’t we always been at war with them?

Comment from gebrauchshund
Time: March 23, 2011, 4:06 pm

If I recall my 1984 geography correctly, we are them.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: March 23, 2011, 4:49 pm

So we are the enemy?


Comment from David Gillies
Time: March 23, 2011, 6:12 pm

I wouldn’t want to be the guy taking that photo. If Muj on the right lets fly with that thing, he’s in the backblast area (although that’s not as big a problem with an RPG7 – which is what this looks like – than with some other anti-armour weapons because it’s a two stage propulsion system.) And the guy carrying the reload should not be exposing himself to counterfire like that.

So yeah, totally staged.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: March 23, 2011, 7:24 pm

Yep, it’s East Asia we Oceanians are always bickering with.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: March 24, 2011, 1:18 am

Those fucking Eastasians. They’re ruining it for the rest of us.

Comment from Oldcat
Time: March 24, 2011, 5:40 am

Stoaty – it was Alexander Gardner who dragged a rebel corpse across a field to the Devil’s Den and put a gun next to him for a ‘sniper’ shot. He used the same gun as a prop in a few pictures. You can see the same body in another picture in the original position.

Brady was even phonier. He bought the photos that Gardner and other stringers did and sold them under his name. Brady was a studio photographer for pretty much the whole war.

Comment from Carl
Time: March 25, 2011, 12:07 am

“Mathew Brady — the father of photojournalism”

Er … Carol Szathmari? William Simpson? Roger Fenton?

Mathew Brady — the father of AMERICAN photojournalism.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 25, 2011, 12:25 am

Waaaaait a second — there are places other than America?

Speaking of photos, I loved this: Fifty unexplainable photos.

Comment from hemmersheim
Time: March 25, 2011, 11:05 pm

reminds me of the attention whore cindysheehan and her photo ops…..when the camera’s out numbered her supporters by 5+ to one……..

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