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November 11, 2009

Iraqi soldier

 

BERKELEY – The U.S. invasion of Iraq was without a doubt the most widely and closely reported war in military history. At the start of the war last March, as many as 775 reporters and photographers were traveling as “embedded journalists” with U.S. forces, with hundreds more taking their chances outside the Humvees. The availability of cheap, portable technology such as digital video cameras and teleconferencing equipment made coverage of this war ever more immediate and intimate, giving the impression that events were being recorded in real time exactly as they happened. But how did living and eating under fire with U.S. troops influence reporters? Did journalists ask enough hard questions about the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq? And most importantly, were their stories accurate? These questions and others are the central topics of UC Berkeley’s conference “The Media At War: The U.S. Invasion and Occupation of Iraq,” which begins tomorrow (March 16) and runs through Thursday. A large cast of prominent journalists will participate in the conference, which is sponsored by the Graduate School of Journalism, the Human Rights Center, the Office of the Chancellor, and several other media and philanthropic groups. With a few exceptions, the panels are free and open to the public; see the conference website for a full schedule. “We thought it was really important to conduct a postmortem on how the media did,” says Orville Schell, Dean of the Journalism School. In magazine publishing, a “postmortem” refers to an in-house review of the design, content, and timeliness of a finished issue; the “Media At War” conference will tackle coverage of the Iraq war in a more probing manner, evaluating not only the quality of reporting but also the effects of intangible pressures such as patriotism. Schell and Eric Stover, a war-crimes investigator and director of the Human Rights Center, began planning the conference last year. “Both of us have some collective experience covering wars – I started in the Indochina war – and we know something of the fever that comes over people as a country prepares for war or is at war. That climate creates a very different field of gravity in which journalists must operate,” Schell explains. Stover was in northern Iraq last March as one of only two human-rights investigators present in the country when the U.S. invaded (see “Lifting the Fog of War: Human Rights Center Director Eric Stover reports on chaos and lawlessness in Iraq,” NewsCenter, April 29). He recently returned from another trip to the country, where he was looking for mass graves and assessing the status of documentary evidence to be used in subsequent war-crimes trials. The Human Rights Center is cosponsoring the Media At War conference because human-rights reporting is very similar to journalism, he says, in that it is about “getting the facts right – who, what, when, where, and why – although you’re assembling these facts primarily as an advocate for the victims and their families.” Taking part in the ambitious conference are representatives from all the major U.S. print, radio, and TV outlets, among them the New York Times, L.A. Times, National Public Radio, CNN, CBS, and ABC, along with their counterparts in European and Middle Eastern media. Although organizers Stover and Schell repeatedly invited conservative outlets such as Fox News to participate, all declined to send any representatives. In addition to the journalists, a wide range of non-media commentators – diplomats such as former U.S. ambassador Joe Wilson, former United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix, U.S. military spokespersons, human rights investigators, and academics from the fields of psychiatry and public health – will lend their expertise to the postmortem. The panel topics are arranged around issues that Stover and Schell saw arise for the first time in the Iraq war. The first issue is embedded reporting. Journalists traveling cheek-by-jowl with troops is not a new phenomenon, according to Stover – the practice dates back to ancient wars and was also present in World War II – but never before have reporters taken part in the assault on a major city like Baghdad from inside military vehicles. In addition to ethical questions such as journalists’ pointing out targets they see to military personnel, conference participants will discuss the psychological pressures of embeddedness and where patriotism ends – or should end – and the independence of the press begins. “Embedded reporting is a good idea, but it shouldn’t be the only food item on the menu,” says Schell. “Getting coverage only from embedded reporters is like looking only into a microscope. What we need is something of the broader picture, and the chance to know other aspects of the whole enterprise.” Schell will chair a panel discussion, which will include representatives from ABC Nightline and CBS’s 60 Minutes, that will look at how well the broadcast news industry has performed in giving the world that broader picture. He has been openly critical of what he sees as the “one-dimensionality” of most broadcast news coverage. The Iraq war marks the first time that U.S. journalists have had to cover their country as an occupying power since the adoption of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. In Vietnam, U.S. troops fought alongside South Vietnamese forces, while in Bosnia there was a U.N. presence, so the United States wasn’t technically an occupying power under the Geneva Convention. “When your country is the occupying power, there are different questions that arise regarding covering the war and the government,” argues Stover. One of the conference’s panels will examine whether U.S. reporters have been sufficiently skeptical and critical, taking up the question “Is the U.S. Media Serving the American Public?” The conference will not be confined to a U.S.-centric focus. Two sessions will present the pressures bearing down on reporters from the BBC, La Republica, Le Monde, Al Jazeera, Al Ahram Weekly, and others, and the radically different perspectives they brought to covering the war and the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. One of the mostly hotly anticipated segments of the conference begins at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 17, when CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour interviews Hans Blix about his hunt for those WMDs and whether his team of U.N. inspectors was pressured to inflate their reports. “We are now beginning to understand that the weapons inspectors did a pretty good job of establishing the fact that there were probably no WMDs in Iraq. But at the time, they received nothing but utter and total contempt for their work,” says Schell. “It seems that much of the best intelligence came from Blix’s team in the last month before the war, while the U.S. military relied far too heavily on deluded and removed exiles as sources. I’d like to see a postmortem about the efficacy of multilateral inspectors in this situation.” The conference’s final panel discussion will ask the essential question of whether the media “got it right” in its coverage of the war: did it do a fair and accurate job of presenting the factors that led up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the events that occurred during it. “We felt that we must make time to gather everyone together to talk not only about how we handled this, but how we will handle the ongoing occupation and future trials of Saddam and his henchmen,” Stover explains. “We’re concerned about how much the press knows about international humanitarian law and how these courts operate. And there will be numerous human-rights issues that will emerge, such as the rights of women in Iraq and the treatment of people who are detained by the Iraqis under the new regime. The one thing we know is that there’s a long row to hoe toward recovering security and stability. The press needs to be vigilant and not abandon coverage once sovereignty is returned to the Iraqis.”

 

Bonnie Azab Powell, Newscenter,15 March 2004 (http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2004/03/15_mediatwar.shtml) 8/11/09

Editor’s Notes

November 11, 2009
Editor’s Note On Monday, March 31, the Los Angeles Times published a front-page photograph that had been altered in violation of Times policy. The primary subject of the photo was a British soldier directing Iraqi civilians to take cover from Iraqi fire on the outskirts of Basra. After publication, it was noticed that several civilians in the background appear twice. The photographer, Brian Walski, reached by telephone in southern Iraq, acknowledged that he had used his computer to combine elements of two photographs, taken moments apart, in order to improve the composition. Times policy forbids altering the content of news photographs. Because of the violation, Walski, a Times photographer since 1998, has been dismissed from the staff. The altered photo, along with the two photos that were used to produce it, are below:
The Actual Photos

The Altered Photo

Photographer Brian Walski used his computer to combine elements of the two photographs. The left side of the altered photo is taken from the top left photo, and the right side of the altered photo is from the top right one. Some residents on the left side of the blended photo are visible twice. The altered photo ran on the front page of the Los Angeles Times Monday.

Los Angeles Times, March 31,(http://www.womeninphotography.org/historical/WIPIhistory3.html) 4/11/09

Front Pages

November 11, 2009

1/11/09 Study Diary

November 11, 2009

1/11/09

I just 4 entries in my blog but I am still confused. I tried to speak with my personal because I’m not sure about my work, I don’t know if the way that I work is ok or if I’m going wrong but she couldn’t meet me. I was ill for 2 weeks, I missed some lectures and I’m completely lost. First my first part of the research is to learn about Brian Walski’s biography and some details about his work. In the second part or my research I am gonna find some information’s about the codes of ethics and for what the other newspapers wrote about this photo.

Who and how recognise the differences

November 11, 2009

April 1 may forever haunt Colin Crawford, Los Angeles Times Director of Photography and Brian walski a staff photographer covering the war in Iraq for the paper. That was the day Walski was fired, after it was revealed that a photo he submitted on Sunday was actually a composite of two images he had captured.

The photo was shared primarily with other Tribune properties vie Newscom, the company’s internal picture distribution service. Both the Hartforf Courant and The Chicago Tribune used the photograph prominently.

McGuire, the Courant’s Assistant Managing Editor for Photography and Graphics, had edited 500 pictures from various services when he saw the picture from Walski. He liked the image so much that he called the Times for additional caption information, then published the image across six columns on the front page.

A Courant employee was looking through images for a friend and noticed what appeared to be duplication in the picture. The employee brought it to the attention of the copy desk, which then immediately alerted McGuire. ‘After about a 600 percent magnification n Photoshop, I called Colin to ask for an investigation,’ McGuire says.

http://www.poynter.org/content/resource_popup_view.asp?id=15005

In an e-mail to the entire photography staff of the Times, Walski admitted his lapse in judgment and accepted responsibility for it. In his 214-word apology, he writes, in part:

This was after an extremely long, hot and stressful day but I offer no excuses here. I deeply regret that I have tarnished the reputation of the Los Angeles Times, a newspaper with the highest standards of journalism, the Tribune Company, all the people at the Times and especially the very talented and extremely dedicated photographers and picture editors and friends that have made my 4 and a half years at the Times a true quality experience.

I have always maintained the highest ethical standards throughout my career and cannot truly explain my complete breakdown in judgment at this time. That will only come in the many sleepless nights that are ahead.

Kenneth Irby , Apr. 2, 2003, (http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=28082) 2/11/09

Brian Walski Discusses His Doctored Photo

November 11, 2009

Brian Walski  spoke with PDN senior editor David Walker about what he did, how he feels about his actions, and what his plans are now.

The conversation started with Brian Walski said that his career isn’t looking so good now.In addition he spoke about what he is gonna do now.As he said he doesn’t blame anybody but hiself.A lot of people siad him “well you were under stress”. As he said then he put the pictures together, he knew what he is doing. The pictures looked better than he expected so he said “wow”. Things happened so fast. He had ten frames of soldiers totally cut off.At some point he have zoomed out.When the guy came up with the baby, he shot off ten more frames. He had only one photo from soldier where you could see his face. So he put four pictures on his laptop,he worked them and sent them.

When David Walker asked him if ot crossing from his mind theat he could get in trouble he said not really because he wasn’t debating the ethics or the ramifications of it when he was doing it. It was a 14 hour day and he was tired, the only thing that he want was only to make a better image.He feels really bad because he believes that with his actions insulted his co-workers.

After Brian Walski spoke about his co-workers who as he say they’ve been nice and supportive with him. He have not heard from everybody,a lot of them shocked because The Times is such a high quality operation nobody would think of doing this. He wake up in the morning and he can’t believe what he did, that it’s happened to him,and he can’t blame anybody except hiself. Also he said that they were in Iraq at the same point for six days.They were sleeping in their cars there was no safe have not any place to relax and get a good  night’s sleep. It was constant tension and as he said maybe that led him to that. Also he says that he did not notice that in the combined picture some people repeated. He says that he put them togetger and he thought that “Looks good” .

He accepted full responsibility as soon as they called him, because he knew that he was doing something that was clearly wrong and unethical.Also he says that his all career it’s over and if it’s no over it’s certainly going to change dramatically.If he start doing commercial work he has to start out from the bottom..Also says that  there was incident with the New York Times Photographer who denied it , fought it, and it got ugly. He thinks that therw was no point, he was not about to do the this. Then they called thim that nighr Collin [ Crawford, The Times director of photo] said him. ‘Give me an excuse. Tell me it was sattellite tranmission problem. Say something’.And Brian Walski said “No,I did it, I combined the two pictures’.

 

 

David Walker, Wednesday, May 7 2003, photo district news (http://www.allbusiness.com/retail-trade/miscellaneous-retail-retail-stores-not/4450879-1.html)  30/10/09

Brian Walski Biography

November 8, 2009

Brian Walski was born in Illinois , grew up in Chicago and studied journalism at  Northern Illinois University which is a public university located in DeKalb, Illinois, United States. He started his career as a photographer at the Albuquerque Journal which is the largest morning  newspaper in the state of  New Mexico. After he spent 12 years of his career on a staff  at Herald Boston until he joined the Los Angeles Times in September, 1998.

During his career  he covered a lots of significant news from local news to The Gulf War, famine in Africa, Northern Ireland, the conflict in Kashmir and the crisis in the Balkans.

 

On March 30, 2003 Brian Walski who covered the Invasion of Iraq, took a number of pictures and after of extremely long, hot and stressful day as he said in his e-mail to the entire photography staff of the Times, admitted his lapse, that he combined two pictures to make one superior picture.

After Walski’s picture ran on the Times’ front page on March 31, 2003, editors at the Hartford Courant noticed that several people in the photo appeared twice. Walski, who had been on the Times staff since 1998, was fired the following day.

 

Since the scandal Brian Walski opened a private company called

Brian Walski Photography in the Denver (Colorado)

 

 

References:

  1. Kenneth Irby, Apr. 2, 2003, L.A Times Photographer Fired Over Altered Image ( http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=28082 ),

27/11/09

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Walski,27/11/09
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Illinois_University,27/11/09
  3. http://www.brianwalskiphotography.com/,27/11/09
  4. Brian Walski, 2003, The  Los Angeles Times (http://www.sources.com/students/scandals.htm#Brian_Walski.2C_The_Los_Angeles_Times_.282003.29),27/11/09
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albuquerque_Journal,27/11/09

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October 19, 2009

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