As I noted previously, the blog EU Referendum has presented powerful evidence that the photos of Qana splashed across the front pages of newspapers worldwide yesterday were staged. Indeed, further evidence suggests that one "rescue worker" whose photograph with a dead child was circulated around the world is actually a leading and longstanding Party of God (Hezbollah) PR poobah (he was photographed in military garb holding up a dead baby for the cameras in 1996). This, along with other (perceived) anomalies (summarized here), has led to a bevy of conspiracy theories circulating around the blogosphere, that I won't bother linking to unless some hard evidence turns up.
But the staged photo claims seem rather persuasive (update: as a commentor below notes, Taranto in yesterday's opinionjournal.com is skeptical about whether the time stamps on the photos are meaningful, but it seems likely that the photographs were "set up" to provide maximum effect, rather than just being photos of rescue workers going about their business; I should also note that the media could have used other, unstaged images that would have conveyed the same message of tragedy) and I want to focus on a narrower issue, how the MSM deals with staged photos.
(1) Do mainstream media outlets have a policy against publishing "staged" photos that appear to be spontaneous? (There's obviously nothing wrong with publishing "posed" pictures if its obvious that the subjects are posing for the camera.)
(2) If so, are they currently investigating what is documented at EU Referendum, and has been discussed on blogs and radio shows around the world?
(3) If so, if the photos turned out to be staged, will the newspapers apologize to their readers for publishing them?
(4) If the photos turn out to be staged, will the photographers in question be fired [assuming they were aware of the staging]? Can you still be a respectable photojournalist if it turns out you've be an accomplice in staged photographs?
(5) Or are staged photos just par for the course in the MSM, or at least no big deal, because "if it bleeds it leads," and newspaper need "good" photos, staged or not?
I don't mean the last question to be snarky, I'm genuinely curious. Maybe lots of the photos we see from disaster zones, wars, etc., are staged, but that's just the way things are done. If so, newspaper photos present a "fictionalized reality."