Thursday, November 16, 2006

November 15 Media Critique: “Time Magazine Gets Caught Lying”

The more strident HonestReporting’s headlines, the less substance there usually is to the allegation.

The latest ‘Media Critique’ demonstrates this,

Time Magazine Contradicts Eye-Witness Account

Would an editor who had never visited the scene of a photograph deliberately contradict the photographer's account of events? Is it possible that someone would change a caption that ends up incorrectly describing what took place? Moreover, would a prominent media outlet accept the claims of a terrorist organization over that of its own photographer?

Sounds hard to believe, but according to recent revelations by a photojournalist, this is exactly what happened with a photograph that was featured in Time Magazine during Israel's conflict with Hizbollah.

Ironically, HR makes an accusation of editorialisation. Editorialising is commonly seen in headlines, where opinion is inserted that is not backed up by the information contained within the body of the story. The fundamental problem with editorializing is that it is opinion, masquerading as fact. HR’s headline is exactly that.

The basic premise is that the photographers original caption has been altered by Time. This was the caption as supplied by photographer Bruno Stevens,

Kfar Chima, near Beirut, July 17, 2006 An Israeli Air Force F16 has allegedly been shot down while bombing a group of Hezbollah owned trucks, at least one of these trucks contained a medium range ground to ground missile launcher.

And this is the caption Time used,

The wreckage of a downed Israeli jet that was targeting Hizballah trucks billows smoke behind an armed Hizballah gunman in Kfar Chima, near Beirut. Jet fuel set the surrounding area ablaze.

Times decision to edit the caption is probably reasonable given that the photo used didn’t actually show the trucks with the missile launcher that the caption referred to. The Time article appeared in their July 31st print edition, and the web version seems to have appeared on July 24th. The photo was taken on July 17th. The photographer went back to re-visit the site and subsequently changed his caption, with the final version not mentioning the allegedly downed Israeli jet. HR then claims that Time's mention of the downed Israeli jet is a ‘lie’.

HR ‘accidentally’ mix up the order of events to make it appear that Time altered the final caption used by the photographer. The photographer makes it clear that Time had his original caption, not the later altered version. He then goes on to explain the events that lead him to change the caption. HR run the story in the reverse order, quoting Stevens on how he came to alter the caption and then providing this quote from the earlier part of his explanation of events,

They [Time]choose to caption it this way (I had NO control in this matter), they HAD my original caption.

And so imparting the impression of Time completely ignoring the photogpraher’s later version. Or as HR dishonestly put it,

the editor……made up the caption that contradicted the photographer's eye-witness account.

Cute. Too cute.

As usual, it’s the fact that HR needs to resort to such distortion and hyperbole in its’ allegations that makes the best case against its’ allegations of “anti-Israel media bias”.

More sterling work from those masters of mendacity at HonestReporting.