Roger L. Simon

The future will be Photoshopped

Gal Mor’s article on YNet asks if fauxtography is going to be par for the course in conflicts of the future? I wouldn’t be surprised. But I think it would be worth our whiles to look into the past as well. My guess is that many famous war photographs pre-Photoshop were faux in their own way (staged), even famous ones like the Robert Capa dying soldier in the Spanish Civil War and the napalmed child in Vietnam. We all know Mohammed al-Doura was a complete phony. No one needed to Photoshop that.

It’s also true that much regular text reporting is often faux, as we know (naux?). And we have learned that the vast percentage of war video footage comes from the same source and is therefore tilted it the same direction. What are we to make of all this? Are we all living in a false reality? Pretty much, apparently, and it’s not just the normal solipsism we discover as adolescents. One of the few good things to come out of the Israel-Hezbollah War was further acknowledgment of this deception. The nature of news is changing. Few people believe in news organizations as “authorities” any more. The New York Times, as we knew it, is dead. So, to a greater or lesser degree, are its cohorts. We may be moving toward an era in which the most respected news sources are the ones that most honestly admit their biases and make no pretense whatsoever of complete objectivity.

I have been involved in this change, to my own small extent, with the evolution of Pajamas Media. It is now getting closer to what some of us envisioned it to be in the beginning ( a couple of years ago when some bloggers began talking to each other), but it is still a ways off. It’s a process, like most other things of interest. For the first time since we started I am away on a vacation (well, sort of) in the Canadian Rockies and able to look at the the Pajamas site from afar, somewhat more the way a news consumer does. Over the next few days I may learn some things, I couldn’t understand as easily at close hand. We shall see. We shall also see if I can get a photograph of an elk. If not, I shall have to Photoshop it.

UPDATE: Of course the photo above was Robert Capa, not Robert Frank, as several have pointed out to me. Perhaps I shouldn’t be posting such long screeds while jetlagged and supposedly beginning a short vacation. Also, of the photos mentioned aboved, the one of Kim Phuc in Vietnam remains under dispute. Still, the overall point holds.