Hezbollywood

You really can’t believe any of the reporting you are getting from Lebanon. Fraud is rife in the photography portion of the reporting, with everything from blatently photoshopped images, to blatently false captions, to blatently staged propoganda, to outright lies. Hezbollah is in complete control of the media, and not just inside Lebanon. The editors still toe the line thousands of miles away. Why?

Zombie suggests four theories, with the last being

Theory D: Reuters photographers and editors are intimidated by Hezbollah, and publish Hezbollah’s propaganda out of fear for their lives.

There is a good case for it. The reporters still in Lebanon are hostages. The editors have to toe the Hezboline, or the reporters still in country will have “an accident.” One of the strings of photos is “no shirt baseball cap man” who goes from climbing over wreckage in a series of photos to being one of the bodies in the last.

The photographer had to be in on the staging. There is no way for him to not know what is going on. The photographer is one Tyler Hicks with the New York Times. Hicks has done war reporting before, from Iraq. What did he say about that?

Over the period of three trips beginning in October, I worked in Baghdad as a photographer for The New York Times. When I first arrived the constant paranoia of our government appointed “minders” was nothing more than an annoyance, or an aspect of the job which simply frustrated those of us working here. I soon learned that their fear was valid. I blame my initial non-acceptance in part on my personal reluctance that such repression of the human spirit was still exercised with such widespread force.

I soon found myself falling into another form of the same fear and behavior of those around me whom I had become increasingly annoyed with. Our intention was to lead the regime to believe we were playing by the rules, that our presence was a benefit to them, essential to our continued stay in the country. If a journalist or photographer broke the rules it might result in being kicked out of the country, or for a visa not be extended to remain in Iraq. For an Iraqi the consequences would mean prison, torture or even execution. During the regime, to photograph in the direction of a police station, government building or presidential palace would likely result in arrest of a foreigner such as myself. Several journalists and photographers were arrested and imprisoned during the war for trying to do their job, and were fortunate to have been released in the final days as the Americans approached and many other prisoners were being executed.

Hicks has agreed to play the game. He knew what the game would be when he went over there, having played it in Iraq, and agreed to go anyways. I’m not going to judge what that says about Hicks as a person, but I know that it means that I will never believe a photo that is published under his byline while he is still in the country in question.

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