August 09, 2006

Reuters Responds: Adnan Hajj NOT Still Working for Reuters, Questions Remain

We. Get. Results.

A contact at Fox News made some phone calls to their Beirut bureau. Journalists there seem to know both Adnan Hajj and Issam Kobeisi/Kobeisy. They are two different people.

Reuters has also responded publicly to the questions we raised.

USA Today:

According to [Reuters Spokesperson] Kahn: "It is common practice to send more than one photographer to an incident."

Kahn also confirmed that a photo originally credited to Kobeisi had later been retransmitted under Hajj's name. "The picture in question was sent out at 11.57 GMT on July 23rd with the caption and byline Issam Kobeisi," she wrote. "As the caption was correct, but there was a mistake with the byline, the picture was reissued with the caption and correct byline, Adnan Hajj, shortly afterwards."

Normally, I am a strict believer in following Ockham's Razor. Given the fact, though, that Hajj was willing to fraudulently alter photos, it didn't seem too far-fetched to believe Hajj would also commit other kinds of fraud. And given Reuters lax editorial standards of reports and photos coming out of Beirut, I let the speculation run.

So, I was wrong. But, like I said, all we had was evidence, not proof. Enough to open an investigation, but not enough to convict.

Turns out, in this instance, Reuters was innocent and no charges were filed.

Crow, meet lips.

But Reuters answer in the USA Today column is still unsettling on a few fronts. Why would Reuters send two stringers on the same assignment? Maybe the cost of hiring a stringer is that low.

And its the word assignment that's most troubling.

Two stringers were sent on assignment to cover a tire fire....and yet neither of them let Reuters know that what they were photographing was a tire fire? One probably started on accident by Hezbollah.

Hezbollah starts a tire fire.....calls the press....organizes a swarm...poses with their guns.....the captions all make it seem as if the fire was the result of either an Israeli missile attack or the wreckage of an "object"---presumably a downed Israeli plane.

And there are still serious question over whether or not Issam Kobeisi's other photos are staged propaganda.

Reuters still has a lot to answer for. And so do the many other outlets that hire stringers or who do not reveal that their news and photos are taken at events organized by Hezbollah.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 03:26 PM | Comments |