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Tuesday, November 04, 2003

AFP violates journalistic ethics

HonestReporting Communique exposes photographic distortion
and bias by omission

A Palestinian woman expresses her anger after Israeli
Defence Forces detonated an explosive belt they found in
her house, destroying the ground and first floor of the
building, in the village of Hizmeh near Jerusalem
(AFP/Atta Hussein)

Remember this photo?
The photographer used a wide-angle (fisheye) lens to generate an effect of broad, exaggerated destruction ¯ note the distorted length of the woman's hands and the "stretched" background buildings. While a wide-angle lens may be fitting for landscape photos, it was clearly neither necessary nor appropriate here. Nikon describes use of its fisheye lenses in this way: "In normal photography these lenses are employed to achieve dramatic effects due to their 'unreal' distortion."

When a photojournalist distorts a picture in this manner, he distorts the event he is purportedly conveying in an objective manner - a violation of journalistic ethics.
What's the real story behind the photo? The one AFP omitted?
Acting on intelligence, the IDF captured this woman's husband, who then admitted that he had planned to carry out a suicide bombing with an explosive belt that he had hidden under his baby daughter's bed.

Soldiers rushed to the house, evacuated its inhabitants, and safely detonated the explosives. The blast caused the first story of the house to fall - testimony to the force of its impact that was intended to massacre Israeli civilians. See the full story in the Jerusalem Post.
According to HonestReporting, "IDF spokeswoman Sharon Finegold recently stated that fully 90% of the news pictures coming out of the Palestinian areas are taken by Palestinian photographers (such as Atta Hussein of the AFP, above). Finegold believes this plays an important role in the overall media distortion of the conflict."

No one says just why that is, but I would suspect the Palestinian Authority controls that. at gunpoint. Big surprise.

Write to Agence France-Presse at contact@afp.com

UPDATE: I'm honored that "FrenchAreVichy" linked back to my rendition of this piece in a forum at F-ckFrance.com