Monday, February 25, 2008

Propaganda, Photoshop, and Honor

Source includes large image and detailed points
HONG KONG -- It turns out that train tracks in Tibet aren't where the antelope play.

Earlier this week, Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, issued an unusual public apology for publishing a doctored photograph of Tibetan wildlife frolicking near a high-speed train.

The deception -- uncovered by Chinese Internet users who sniffed out a Photoshop scam in the award-winning picture -- has brought on a big debate about media ethics, China's troubled relationship with Tibet, and how pregnant antelope react to noise...

Suspicions about the photo became public --- after Mr. Liu's photograph was displayed in Beijing's subway system. An anonymous Chinese Internet user going by the screen name Dajiala raised questions about the photo's authenticity on one of China's largest photography Web sites. Dajiala, a photographer who claimed to idolize Mr. Liu, said he was studying a copy of the photo posted on Beijing's Line 5 subway platform when he rubbed some dust off it and noticed something odd.

"At the bottom of the photograph, there was a very obvious line," he wrote. "I examined it very carefully and it was obviously the stitching of two different images....Was this decisive moment just a simple Photoshop trick?"

His post created an online storm. Photographers blew up the image and analyzed each out-of-place pixel. Animal behaviorists weighed in, explaining that antelope are shy and noise-sensitive, and would scatter in panic at the sound of the high-speed train. When the chat-room controversy spread to China's largest Internet portals, the Chengdu Business Daily confronted Mr. Liu.

Cornered by the mounting evidence, Mr. Liu admitted he had indeed used Photoshop to blend two pictures, according to the newspaper.

Mr. Liu resigned from the Daqing Evening News and posted a statement on his blog. "I have no reason to continue my sacred career as a newsman," he wrote. "I am not qualified for the job." His editor then resigned, too, and the newspaper posted an apology on its Web site. The newspaper didn't respond to repeated calls to its office. Mr. Liu didn't answer calls to his cellphone.

Interesting - on alot of levels.


  1. Does anyone comment on this blog?

  2. You do. This post has been up for about 20 minutes. Most people blog 9-5 though. Traffic always drops at noon and 5. LOL.

  3. Oh my goodness, yes we do. Hello, Miss Rose, sorry for the "dour" face.....but I think Mr. Liu has more than likely "resigned" from Life.

    Actually, more likely "terminated" from that employment. this way in other cultures, good that we have the Freedom to do stupid things here, eh?

    *firestorm erupts*.......*Now*.

  4. I've just been reflecting on this story and the way the New York Times reacts when they get caught - no honor there. And on Al Gore's polar bears - no hari-kiri there, either...

  5. I've been wondering if Mr. Liu is still with us... any word on that?

  6. Anonymous, for every one comment I am quite sure there are many more readers. Thanks for helping to fill the local news void with this blog, Rose! (and for the occasional non-local but interesting story like this)

    p.s. did you ever do a story on the polar bear decline myth? ever read Bjorn Lomborg?

  7. I like Bjorn Lomborg! Check this out!

    Such a refreshing change.

  8. He sounds just like Hank Sims.

  9. Great link Rose. He is very insightful; to bad more of those who call themselves environmentalists don't read some of his books.

  10. He's also reflective of the proactive, forward thinking, ingenious outlook that we need more of.

    Too many people have such a down and out sour outlook on the world - this is bad, that is bad, we're bad, we can't do this, we can't do that - kind of approach that you think in despair - how did we EVER get to be the great nation we are? It wasn't by that kind of thinking.

    We have the best of everything - the best of education at our fingertips, the best minds, the best access to materials, incredible advances in technology, the best healthcare the world has ever known, with promise of significant advances in the coming decades, more wealth than we could ever have hoped for. We can do so much of we remove the roadblock thinking that has developed over the past 20 years...

    It's guys like that who give me hope.


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