By Bassam Sebti – IJNet Arabic Editor – Egyptian blogger Wael Khalil usually writes blog posts about the government, the opposition and sometimes sports, but last Tuesday he played the role of journalism fact-checker. He posted an apparently altered photograph of Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak, suggesting that he was leading the Middle East peace talks, in Egypt’s state-run newspaper Al-Ahram.
On his blog, Khalil posted the doctored photo, showing Mubarak in the front and the original one, taken by Associated Press photojournalist Pablo Martinez Monsivais, that shows he was actually walking behind Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordanian King Abdullah II, as American president Barack Obama led the men to a media event at the White House last week.
According to the BBC, the newspaper has come under fire for doctoring the image, quoting a statement by 6 April Youth opposition movement, “This is what the corrupt regime’s media has been reduced to.”
This case was not the first of its kind. In 2006, Reuters fired a freelance Lebanese photographer and withdrew from sale 920 of his pictures for doctoring two photos he took during the Israeli war in Lebanon in 2006. Reuters learned of this issue after bloggers raised questions about the accuracy of one of the images.
Paul Holmes, editor of political and general news at Reuters, told the BBC that Reuters welcomed the growth of blogs, which had made the media “much more accountable and more transparent”.