September 27, 2014

Horse 1760 - The Wrong Photo

I almost feel like beginning this blogpost by saying "Hello, my name is Andrew Rollason- welcome to Media Watch". If the ABC is listening and would like to give me a job, then feel free to do so.

The story begins on Wednesday 25th of September when splashed across the front pages of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Melbourne was the following photograph:

The photograph was claimed to be that of the now dead Victorian teenager Numan Haider who was shot and killed after he stabbed two police officers on Tuesday night. It wasn't.
It was in fact 19 year old Abu Bakar Alam, whose family now intends to sue Fairfax Media.

Sharri Markson of The Australian then decided to attack Fairfax Media, with this lovely piece online:
A YOUNG man woke up to find his photograph plastered on the front pages of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age today, with the claim he was the teenager shot dead after being involved in a terror plot against Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
The Herald Sun reports that the man is now nervous about appearing in public after Fairfax Media wrongly labelled him a terrorist. The man told radio station 3AW he was afraid to leave his house.
Not only is the man not a terrorist, but his family helped the Australian effort against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
But, both The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald claimed he was Victorian teenager Numan Haider, who was killed on Tuesday evening during a brawl in which he attacked two counter-terrorism police officers with a knife. The 18-year-old was a supporter of terrorist group Islamic State and had reportedly been in communication with their members overseas.
Fairfax Media’s metropolitan newspapers published a photograph of an innocent young man prominently in their newspapers and on their websites, claiming he was Haider.

Just before midday today, the photograph was pulled from their websites.
Fairfax Media issued a short apology for the photograph admitting it was “published in error”.
- Sharri Markson, Media Editor, The Australian, 25th Sep 2014

The problem is that Ms Markson apparantly doesn't bother to read the newspapers which come out of her own media group. Melbourne's Herald-Sun published the same photograph, albeit smaller:
Down the corridor from Ms Markson's offices in Sydney, the people at The Daily Telegraph were having fun with the photograph editing it in in photoshop:
What makes this even weirder is that on the same day that Ms Markson published her piece online, her own newspaper The Australian has also published the same photograph up in the top right hand corner:
I emailed ABC's Media Watch yesterday but they replied informing me that it wasn't the same photograph. I don't understand this, considering that the same brown curtain is in the top right hand corner, they same squiggly patterned shirt is in all of them and even the Arabic letter ن which roughly comes out to be an N in English, also lines up in the same place.
The caption in The Australian says that "A Facebook post shows Haiden with the Islamic State flag", when that isn't in fact the flag of IS at all.
The caption on this flag says "لا إله إلا الله، محمد رسول الله" which translates to "There is no god but God; Muhammad is the messenger of God." which is the same as on the flag of Saudi Arabia, yet the flag of IS says "باقية وتتمدد" " which translates to "Remaining and Expanding".
Media Watch have their opinion I suppose but I have one based on what I can see; you can form your own opinion.

What's really amazing is that the Media Editor at The Australian didn't do simple research which anyone could have done; even with a short look at Wikipedia; secondly to accuse the opposition of publishing the wrong photograph when your own media group which you work for and which your columns appear, looks incredibly negligent.
What's worse is that no-one at the two media groups who control the vast majority of news print media in this country bothered to check before they went to print. Mr Abu Bakar Alam, I think has quite a justifiable right to sue not only Fairfax Media but news as well.

What I fear about this is that not only are our two biggest print media groups getting is so horribly wrong but in an environment of increased terror (or so we're led to believe), making mistakes like this can only strengthen the resolve of those who wish to enact and perpetrate harm.

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