Reuters Admits Photo Was Faked

August 6, 2006

Notice anything unusual about this photo that Reuters newswire sent around the world as an example of Israel’s devastation of Lebanon?


If you see unusual patterns in the smoke above Beirut, it’s because someone used photo-imaging software to doctor the image, adding more smoke and damage than are really there.

The forgery, first discovered by Charles Johnson of the Little Green Footballs blog, was later acknowledged by a Reuters spoekswoman, who said:

"Reuters has suspended a photographer until investigations are completed into changes made to a photograph showing smoke billowing from buildings following an air strike on Beirut. Reuters takes such matters extremely seriously as it is strictly against company editorial policy to alter pictures.

As soon as the allegation came to light, the photograph, filed on Saturday 5 August, was removed from the file and a replacement, showing the same scene, was sent. The explanation for the removal was the improper use of photo-editing software."

The Lebanese photographer who filed the forged photo, Adnan Hajj, also produced many of the images from Qana, which were also suspected of being staged.

Reuters has now fired the photographer. But questions about news images from the Middle East will remain, and the credibility of local news photographers, who have a stake in the conflicts they’re covering, is tarnished.

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