Engineering Consent For An Attack On Syria
On May, 2012, the BBC published a photo showing
several rows of dead Iraqi children to illustrate a recent
massacre in the Syrian city of Houla.
BBC: Iraq photo to illustrate Houla massacre?
Photographer Marco di Lauro who took the shot grabbed by the BBC
says he nearly “fell off his chair” after finding the picture on
the network’s website with a caption reading: “Photo from
Activist. This image – which cannot be independently verified –
is believed to show bodies of children in Houla awaiting
picture was actually taken on March 27, 2003; it depicts an
Iraqi boy jumping over dozens of white body bags containing
skeletons found in a desert south of Baghdad. The image, which
is published on Marco di Lauro’s
website, is part of his story Iraq, the Aftermath of Saddam.
Lauro takes photographs for Getty Images picture agency, his
works have been published across Europe and the US. But the
indication that the BBC picked his image from the internet, not
from official stock worries him somewhat.
I am really astonished by is that a news organization like the
BBC doesn't check the sources and it's willing to publish any
picture sent it by anyone: activist, citizen journalist or
whatever. That's all,” the photographer told The Daily
is using someone else’s picture for propaganda on purpose,”
spokesman says the picture, illustrating Sunday night’s
story "Syria Massacre in Houla Condemned as Outrage Grows,"
was taken down “immediately” when the source was
were aware of this image being widely circulated on the internet
in the early hours of this morning following the most recent
atrocities in Syria. We used it with a clear disclaimer saying
it could not be independently verified,” he added.
words about information “which cannot be independently verified”
have become a trademark of media coverage of the 14-month
conflict in Syria. Before UN special envoy Kofi Annan brought
his peace plan to the troubled Arab country, the Syrian
government had remained reluctant to open borders to most
now the bulk of information comes from people calling themselves
opposition activists – via amateur videos uploaded to YouTube or
But sometimes it looks that the mantra “cannot be independently verified” serves as a disclaimer to publish information which wouldn’t stand a chance of ever being verified.