Monday, August 14, 2006


There is a controversy raging around the world over the distribution by Reuters of doctored photographs from Lebanon which exaggerate the damage done to Beirut by Israel's bombing strikes against Hizbullah targets.

This storm has now extended to allegations that many other photographs distributed by agencies have been deliberately faked or staged for effect while others still have been incorrectly labeled — again to achieve greater effect in the propaganda part of the ongoing conflict. The staging includes the choreographing of bodies being unearthed and directions being given to emergency workers to place them in such a way as to emphasize the death and suffering in the war in Lebanon.

Heaven knows that war is bad enough but things have reached the positively ghoulish stage when, for propaganda purposes, dead children are used as props for photographs or when a rescue worker is shown in one picture walking around in the same rubble in which he was previously shown lying prone and described as a "dead body".



Most of our local newspapers have, for some reason, shied away from the controversy but Melbourne Age reporter Ed O'Loughlin has managed to get in on the "dead men walking" act - this time to revive one of the jazz world's greatest icons in his story entitled "TEMPLE SURVIVED QUAKES, BUT CAN IT SURVIVE THE WAR?".

O'Loughlin was writing about the Baalbek festival, which "was to start on July 13 with shows by Deep Purple and Dizzy Gillespie and an opening-night comeback performance by legendary Lebanese diva Fairouz."

Sadly, although it was the war that put an end to this year's Baalbek festival, natural causes took care of Dizzy years ago. Gillespie, who would have turned 89 in October this year, passed away on 6 January 1993 and was therefore not available to attend the festival in person. Indeed, had he appeared on stage, his comeback would have clearly overshadowed that of Ms. Fairouz.

It's comforting to know therefore, that the ubiquitous former Reuters photographer Adnan Hajj would almost certainly have been on hand and ready to give the task of putting the legendary trumpeter back into the picture his best shot.

As for O'Loughlin, his Fairfax biop, once described him as "lazy" which probably accounts for his lousy skills in the area of research of which this recent gaffe is just one of many examples at his newspaper.

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