July 10, 2008

Missileading Sources


The prevailing wisdom regarding the widespread publication of the doctored Iranian missile test is that the photo department at any number of media organizations should have smelled out the fake in a second. 

I have a little bit different take. 

If you’ve been around here a while, you might remember this entry from November ’07.  In that post, I took the LAT to task for illustrating its presumably objective Iraq war reporting with photos supplied by the U.S. Military.  Then as now, I think the trouble here is, as much, a sourcing issue.  The reason this photo didn’t appear in a more scrupulous visual enterprise like the NYT, for example, is because they wouldn’t make the mistake of confusing a certified terrorist organization with a photo agency.

Didn’t the media learn anything from its role as the promotional arm of the Iraq invasion?  I mean, if Cheney and Khamenei wish to engage in a blatant, testosterone-infused game of PR warfare, doesn’t the media — especially the visual media — have a responsibility to avoid further co-dependence?

It’s great if the egg-on-the-face from publishing this photo results in less media facilitation of this two-way, saber-rattling,

fear-manipulating propaganda battle.  Except, the reticence should have been there in the first place.

Tests called mostly ‘chest-thumping’ (Houston Chronicle)

Iran: Wars and Rumors of War (Juan Cole)

(image: The Iranian Revolutionary Guard via the LAT front page)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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