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Ed Endicott

Child turned down by Al-Qaeda linked group dies shooting for Reuters in Syria

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Thanks for the link, Ed. 'Bout time Reuters came up with some answers.

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Some very interesting questions are being asked of Reuters

 

 

 . . . by, it appears, one blogger.

 

Are there really serious questions here? Even his age is not certain, a fact grudgingly admitted by duckrabbit. It seems the blogger is more concerned that the kid reportedly approached Al-Qaeda once, and is working for money . . .

 

We have a few ex-war-photographers (for want of a perhaps better description, I'm sorry gentlemen if that falls short) here in the forum, truly interested in their take on this.

 

dd

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Lets not forget, the blogger has at least one picture of the photographer, which becomes more valuable if the story gets bigger. Can't comment on the actual story as there are no real facts anywhere yet.

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On that photo, he's wearing a sweatshirt/hoodie with the Union Jack flag and what looks like "England" written on it. 

 

I make that comment because Al Q is not exactly pro-Britain so it seems incongruous that he would be "an aspiring suicide bomber" for that particular organisation.

 

On the other hand, I'm not having the shit bombed out of me in Aleppo, so what do I know?

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I once had an arranged meeting with some Viet Cong. Honest, I was not trying to join their ranks. 

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This is not an inquiry by just one blogger...that particular link was provided by the NPPA (National Press Photographer's Association).  It's also been tweeted about quite a bit by AP photographers and other working in the region.

 

https://twitter.com/AmiriEhsan/status/414337962684317696/photo/1

 

https://twitter.com/DitaaSely/status/414393789080293376/photo/1

 

http://cpj.org/killed/2013/molhem-barakat.php

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelzarrell/chilling-photographs-taken-by-the-teenage-reuters-photograph

 

 

You just aren't hearing about it in the mainstream media.

Edited by Ed Endicott

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This is not an inquiry by just one blogger...that particular link was provided by the NPPA (National Press Photographer's Association).  It's also been tweeted about quite a bit by AP photographers and other working in the region.

 

https://twitter.com/AmiriEhsan/status/414337962684317696/photo/1

 

https://twitter.com/DitaaSely/status/414393789080293376/photo/1

 

http://cpj.org/killed/2013/molhem-barakat.php

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelzarrell/chilling-photographs-taken-by-the-teenage-reuters-photograph

 

 

You just aren't hearing about it in the mainstream media.

Hi Ed.

 

I generally stay away from most mainstream media . . . I meant there only seemed to be one blogger expressing major concern (well, any level of concern actually) over Molhem Barakat's link, if link there was, to Al Qaeda, and the reasons he was submitting stuff to Reuters. Compared to all the other commentary I'd read it seemed sensationalist and odious to the extreme to start down that particular line of questioning as the originally refered-to blogger was (although I must admit I did not read Dita Sely tweets, my Bahasa Indonesia is a bit rusty of late, and in the past most tweets stupefied me to such a degree I no longer seek them out).

 

I still wonder, are there legitimate concers about Molhem and Reuters' relationship, do news agencies turn away copy/photos from freelancers under a certain age . . . should they turn away such work . . . is it fair to criticise photo-journalists for perceived bias (where does that leave "embedded" pjs?) etc? Is the fact he was described by someone as "an activist" relevant? Is that in itself an issue, or should photography be seen as a legitimate tool of "an activist"? I am interested in these outrageously brave souls, particularly the freelancers (just last month attended a fascinating meet-the-photographer session with a favourite local freelancer of note, David Dare Parker), who are most often the only avenue to "the rest of the world" seeing what is really going on beyond the politicised, sanitised headlines of the mainstream press, and I am interested in the way news agencies use them and their work. It seems to me, in at least one instance in particular, this young man's death is being used to push several unconnected agendas. But to paraphrase a wiser head earlier in this thread, I'm not having snipers trying to blast my head into a million pieces, so what would I know?

 

dd

Edited by dustydingo
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Perhaps a measure of caution prevents 'mainstream' media from standing on a box and screaming at Reuters......a number of times in my working life I listened to frantic fury from the "I was there brigade" only to see the facts diluted and contradicted over time .

 

Reuters have some questions to answer sure enough, they have already confirmed that they have taken freelance contributions from this young photographer - but there are a number of quite productive 'paps' aged 16yrs and 17yrs operating on the fringes of the celebrity scene as freelances in the safety of London, so is it just an age thing ?   The tragedy is that there is a mad war going on where he lived - he seems to have seen a way to make a living and portray the conflict from his viewpoint.......Reuters have used his images 'on spec' and I would suspect have been well aware that he possibly had an axe to grind. No-one has yet suggested (with evidence)  that they directed his actions or sent him into greater danger......

 

Or perhaps you know better............

 

Added 26th December:  A major, but as yet unrecognized danger of the whole Interwebnetthingy is the willingness to accept the bulk of Twatter and Farcebook as FACT - regardless the original source, or the number of changes introduced as word passes ever onwards, or indeed the vested interests of those wishing to provide misinformation.

 

You ARE being manipulated, and time-pressures mean that the 24hr "news' services are very much open to using stories which promote unrest and distrust on very flimsy basis - today the Russian experts (who do seem to be very well qualified - and in this case I can see no advantage to their findings) have announced that Yasser Arafat did NOT die of Radiation Poisoning - but of natural causes. Vested interests have for many years been blaming countries for causing his death.

 

Reports and proliferation of reports of massacres spread around the world in seconds and violent reactions follow - only for the truth to come out much later.

 

Gosh ! That was a bit heavy - perhaps in our own small way we should just always make sure that our own contributions to the image content of news are true, balanced and accurate, and stand back and take a few minutes to assess whether we accept not just the "NEWS" but the source of that news - before passing it on as fact.....

Edited by DavidC
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In my day it was launch a photographic career by risking your life in Viet Nam. I had a portfolio of news images taken for my university newspaper, that did raise interest at newspaper syndicates at the time. 

 

However I came to the conclusion that newspaper syndicates would just use me as a kind of cannon fodder. Go to Viet Nam at your own expense, and try to get pictures of someone getting their head blown off, without getting your own head blown off. If you can do of all of that, we will sell your images and give you a small percentage that might cover your expenses. We might even give you a future day job as a news photographer, if you are smart enough to survive and get back home. Viet Nam is your big opportunity to launch your photographic career.

 

There is no photograph for which it is worth risking your life.

 

I went off and shot weddings instead of Viet Nam. I follow the same policy today. Only take calculated risks. If you want to take surf images, become a surfer so you know the ocean. It amazes me that even today some news organizations will encourage amateur kids to risk their lives to go out and get, and then send in, their images of a killer hurricane.

 

 

If you want to become a war photographer, first join the army and get battlefield training. Then, once you know what you are doing, take your camera to war.

 

I think Molhem Barakat was used. Suicide bomber or inexperience freelancer for a news syndicate in a war, is it not much the same thing?

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Another article posted today by PDN

 

http://pdnpulse.pdnonline.com/2013/12/what-did-reuters-pay-a-teenager-to-cover-the-syrian-conflice.html

 

 


Molhem Barakat, the 18-year-old Reuters stringer who was killed in Syria on December 20, had told another photographer that Reuters paid him $100 a day for uploading a set of 10 pictures, according to a report on Global Voices.

Barakat also told the photographer, Prague-based photojournalist Stanislav Krupar, that Reuters paid him a bonus of $50 to $100 if his photos were published by The New York Times or the newspaper’s Lens Blog.

 

So that's $10 per image...and he gave his life for it.

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Was he Syrian, this young man? His brother, who was also killed, was fighting with the rebel forces. Could it be that the young Mr. Basrakat would have been there, in harm's way, even without his camera? 

 

The prefrontal cortex of the brain, where judgement lives, is not fully developed until around age 25. Very young people are often not fully aware of their mortality.

 

When I went to Vietnam I was older. But I did not think it was going to make me famous or even open doors for me. I was living in Rome at the time and I went on the strength of my Italian press card, my Lasciapassare. In Rome I did not own a TV and so I did not have a solid idea of what I was getting myself into. Not that watching TV or a film is anything like being in combat. But I did see it as a challenge, a job, and an adventure. I had been working on the edge of the Italian film business in Rome but that work (for foreigners) had dried up because of a change in quoters. 

 

They say over 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict. I'm sorry about all of them . . . including Molhem Barakat, whatever his politics or professional status were. 

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Yes Ed - Corey Pein makes the same comment you point out in your first sentence on the Global Voices link.  I still think this young man was exploited.  Many times, at any age, we are driven by hope (or faith - I use those two terms in the same manner).  It appears Reuters gave him hope on very poor compensation for what he was doing and providing...and despite people wanting to get him out of Syria (where his remaining family still lives), he stayed.  I can't help but think that the reason he stayed is hope that his "job" would help him and his family more-so than leaving the country and making a better life.

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Ed & Ed, there is no doubt whatever that this lad's death is a tragedy - along with all of the other totally unnecessary deaths in this evil conflict - his age now seems confirmed as 18yrs - but that too is irrelevant - the fact is that he should not have been killed.

 

The bit I find hard to take is the rush to hang some blame on Reuters door.

 

The questions have been asked:

1. Was he working on a contract for Reuters and under their direction ? If so they clearly have a measure of responsibility for his safety and he should have been provided with whatever protective gear is available.

2. Was he working on a purely freelance basis selling his image on 'spec'? Molhem Barakat's own comments about his financial arrangements with Reuters indicate that he was being paid on a speculative basis - not as what used to be known a 'stringer'.

 

Would one expect every news agency to supply protective equipment to every freelance who submits an image for sale ?

 

Reuters should make the relationship very clear because a fair amount of mud is heading in their direction some of which they may not deserve.....

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