Friday, May 14, 2004

Mirror editor is fired

Piers Morgan, editor of The Daily Mirror, was forced to resign over faked (or mislabeled) photos. The preponderance of evidence supported the British government's assertion the disputed photographs weren't taken in Iraq.

Morgan previously refused to resign. Instead, he said the photos "accurately illustrated the reality about the appalling conduct of some British troops."


Photographs - real news photographs - aren't "illustrations." They're not "art." They aren't "similarities." They're frozen facts. The second an editor believes otherwise is when problems occur.

This is where credibility and accountability come to the forefront. An image is only as accurate as the photographer (and eventually the publisher) wants it to be. In this case, someone obviously had a vested interest in discrediting the British military and/or its government. In the process, it also damaged a questionable tabloid newspaper.

I think in a broader view this is a major difference between American journalism and British journalism. In America, truth is always a defense in court. It isn't a defense in British (and possibly other commonwealth countries) courtrooms.

Defamation of character is part of the British tabloid newspaper system. Even if the defamatory information is true, the British papers are still held liable (a slap on the hand and a fee) for the infringement.

Consequently, they have no incentive to be particularly trustworthy or report accurately.

At least in the American justice system, journalists check everything to make certain the facts reported are true. This keeps us out of the courtroom and doing what we should be doing: reporting the news.

These particular faked images would still be problematic in America if the editor honestly thought they were accurate. However, the quote above shows he knew (or was later convinced) these images weren't what they were originally purported to be.

Enough for now,

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