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April 10, 2006

IN A FRONT-PAGE STORY, NEIL MUNRO OF THE NATIONAL JOURNAL looks at fake war photos in the media. It turns out that a lot of media folks are running bogus photos -- which coincidentally tend to reflect badly on the war -- and not facing much accountability for it. (No subscription required.)

Read the whole thing, and remember this the next time some Big Media type criticizes blogs as unreliable.

UPDATE: Reader Russ Emerson emails:

The editorial staffs of the major media outlets would benefit from having veterans or other knowledgable people involved in vetting (no pun intended) photos and other material.

For instance, even though I was not in the artillery during my Army service, I could instantly see that the photo referred to in the second paragraph of the article ("a piece of military equipment placed on a damaged stone wall, flanked by a solemn old man and a young boy") was in no way what was claimed: remnants of a missile attack. Any veteran, or indeed any reasonably smart person who watches the History Channel, could have told an editor that the photo was not what it purported to be.

In the networking industry, every company I know of has what are known as "subject matter experts" - people with long experience and a breadth and depth of knowledge in their fields that makes them the "go-to guys" on technical matters. It might behoove the media to avail themselves of the services of some military SMEs on a regular basis - something more than the retired generals doing 5-minute guest spots on CNN or Fox News.

Would the NYT put a tone-deaf reporter on the music beat? Would they put someone with no knowledge of football on the sports desk?

Of course not. Yet they seem to think they can adequately cover military matters by assigning a reporter to watch "Apocalypse Now" and "Platoon" and then sending them thus-equipped to park their butts in the Baghdad Hilton.

It makes me glad there's a Michael Yon.

They're not all that bad, but overall the performance of the press in this war has been marked by dangerous incompetence. We need journalists who are smart and tough!