Monday, November 20, 2006


Just in case you missed it last week, photographers were the 'bad guys' on both CSI and CSI:Miami. The one shoreline that really caught my attention was a 'war photographer' for the Las Vegas newspaper who’s editor had photographic proof that he had montaged his award winning photo from Iraq. Aside from the bad Photoshop job, the story arc should give pause to the people who question the necessity of ethics and the seriousness of the past several cases of photojournalism fraud.

Our profession is now the fodder for stories on TV, that alone should make us think. For better or worse, we are now on the 'radar' of creative types. It used to just be paparazzi type photographers, but now photojournalists are under the microscope too.

So, did the episode raise a good question: in short, yes. The quasi, made for TV photojournalist with a British accent and goatee, argued that he 'created a lie to tell the truth.' In the larger context of journalism and our culture I think this raises and interesting question; is it ever appropriate to deceive in the interests of a greater truth?

In the finite world of photojournalism, it raises a tougher question. Last weekend, my wife and I watched the movie 'Gitmo.' In it, the Swedish documentary directors ran into the challenge of how do you illustrate a story that you don’t have access too, ie. the actual detention area of Guantanamo Bay Camp Delta. As journalists we constantly run into roadblock like this, where the story has already happened, the subject is dead, the event is over... So what do we do? I am not sure that their solution completely worked for me, but I will let you be the judge of that.

In general, I think that the faux 'photojournalist' in the TV show was lazy. He constructed an image of what he though the story in Iraq was about for the soldiers. The 'faux photog' didn’t document what was there in front of him, or the people he interacted with; he wandered into the realm of commercial/editorial photography and got lost. How easy is it to lose our way into today’s media culture? If we are not careful, we might wander far enough afield to make it into the next CSI production.

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