Wednesday, August 02, 2006

AP has no journalistic integrity

The Arab world and European media are always hungry for selective photographic images, showing carnage and devastation caused by Israel. They try to conjur up anti-Israel rage and shock by presenting images of wholesale slaughter and reckless destruction. News services worldwide were scrambling to report 50-60 civilian deaths due to an Israeli airstrike on a residential building. Images of dead children and babies were on the front page of newspapers worldwide. The damage to Israel's standing and justification of its counter-terrorism measures has taken a crippling blow. There is now a pile of evidence that the Qana was an engineered tragedy - only 27 bodies have been recovered, so why the initial reports of 56 dead? Also, the fact that Israel claims it had not struck the building destroyed is extremely worrying. Israel had dropped leaflets days before warning residents to evacuate, and had already fired upon Hezbollah positions in Qana. Some have speculated that the dead bodies recovered were dead well before the attack. It's looking more and more like either a terrible accident or Hezbollah engineered the tragedy out of nowhere to evoke worldwide rage at Israeli actions and increased demands for a ceasefire.

This letter, from Associated Press management to its' staff, shows how AP scrambled many photographers to snap shocking and emotional pictures when the residential building collapsed in Qana, supposedly due to an Israeli air-strike. Read it, and see how AP are no better than media prostitutes eager for a quick buck and sensational newsflashes.

Dear Staffers:

Last Sunday proved to be one of the most dramatic days in the war between Israel and Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon. AP’s extensive photo team produced a stunning series of images that day that beat the competition and scored huge play worldwide.

Rumors surfaced early Sunday morning that an Israeli airstrike had flattened a house in the southern Lebanese village of Qana. The number of deaths wasn’t immediately known, but the seriousness of the incident was clear. Beirut-based photographer Hussein Malla immediately called AP photographers Nasser Nasser, Lefteris Pitarakis and stringer Mohammed Zaatari and advised them to rush to the scene. Nasser arrived as the bodies of many civilians — including numerous children — were being pulled from the rubble. Lefteris later took over, enabling Nasser to get his pictures swiftly onto the wire. Kevin Frayer was dispatched from Beirut to boost AP’s presence. Throughout the morning, AP’s team filed a steady stream of powerful images.

Meanwhile, in Beirut, a small Hezbollah demonstration exploded into violence at word of the Qana attack. Hezbollah supporters stormed the nearby United Nations building, scaling walls and smashing their way past bulletproof glass barriers to enter the building itself. Photographers Hussein Malla, Kevork Djansezian and Ben Curtis were all there to capture the rioting. Beirut-based photo editor Dalia Khamissy coordinated with photographers in the field and handled a steady stream of stringer photos. All day long, AP photographers relayed what they were seeing to AP reporters for print stories.

Nasser’s most haunting image showed a man emerging from the rubble carrying the lifeless and dust-covered body of a child. Calm, morning light shone down on man and child, highlighting them against an almost monochrome background of pure rubble. ... Nasser’s image ran on the front pages of at least 33 newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Post. It also won a double-page center spread in The Guardian of London. Lefteris’s image of a resident weeping next to a row of bodies made the front of The Washington Post, among many others. Hussein, Kevork and Ben’s images of the storming of the UN building easily beat those of the competition.

For a day of outstanding a memorable photos, taken in conditions of substantial danger, the Lebanon photo team of Nasser Nasser, Lefteris Pitarakis, Kevin Frayer, Mohammed Zaatari, Ben Curtis, Hussein Malla, Kevork Djansezian and Dalia Khamissy shares this week’s $500 Beat of the Week award.