Hypocrisy over Pictures

Big turmoil in mainstream media: pictures from Beirut were... digitally doctored! Yes, someone added smoke to make the existing smoke look 'more' menacing. All the ethics professors, media critics, and self-appointed news professionals are expressing disgust and shock.

The pictures here are from freelancers Adnan Hajj (August 2006, Reuters) and from Brian Walski (March 2003, Los Angeles Times).

Everyday, in every paragraph, print reporters 'add smoke to alreading existing smoke' - its called paradigmatic and syntagmatic selection or rather: choosing certain words (and not others) and putting these in a certain sequence in order to tell a story a certain way. Nobody ever seems to express shock about word-doctoring.

Every picture is doctored, because the photographer made all kinds of decisions when using his or her camera, and the publisher made a deliberate selection out of the hundreds of pictures available.

News is constructed reality, and technology (like Photoshop) only makes this visible. In this sense, new media are the best explainers of complex social theory yet.