Bernama takes down suspicious crowd photo
Bernama, the national news agency, has quietly taken down a news photograph which appeared to have been doctored with a duplicated crowd scene at a constituency function held by Umno president Najib Tun Razak in Pekan.
No explanation has been made by the news agency.
Opposition web sites such as Harakah, trying to pin it on the New Straits Times, talk about “an apparent attempt by the daily to make the crowd look mammoth”. It would hardly seem worth the effort, just to add a dozen or so extra people to a crowd, and foolhardy to do so, just two weeks after Bernama had been accused of also doctoring the crowd scene at Putrajaya’s Hari Raya open house.
So the question remains: why carry out a stupid piece of Photoshoppery? And whodunnit?
Why duplicate a tiny and insignificant portion of a crowd scene that, most likely, no one (except opposition supporters) would have noticed, even if that section was empty. The rest of the crowd seemed pretty big, judging from the other photos in Bernama’s gallery. Answers are not forthcoming. Bernama executives were not available.
The photo had been run in the New Straits Times without originally being credited to Bernama. The image was at all times available at the online gallery of Bernama Images, where news photographs are displayed for public viewing and purchase. Photographs in the public gallery are watermarked (below) but not the higher-resolution images for press use. (Bernama supplies news reports and photographs to the press.)
The watermark shows that it is a Bernama image.
On photo credits
Sometimes newspapers drop or forget to use photo credits, especially when a supplied photo is used instead of a staff photo, or when a Bernama photo and Bernama story are both used as a package. (Newspapers have a phobia of showing that it’s not their own work.)
It is at times like these, when a photograph or report becomes the story in itself, that photo and news credits earn their worth, when a suspicious public queries every detail.
But will the photo desk and NST editors — and their subs desks — now inspect every inch of every photo (whether their own, or supplied) for signs of tampering?
Last night, Malaysiakini had this to say in its report on the photo:
Another blogger who goes by the name uppercaise claimed that the photograph was from national news agency Bernama. This could not be verified at the time of writing.
Here’s the NST web site today:
The photo was later also removed from NST Online.