YPC Weekly Newsletter

2014

DECEMBER 15-21

A LA GUERRE COMME A LA GUERRE? OR A FOLLOWUP ON A STORY

Russian news agency REX published an article “All-Out War in Ukraine”, having attached to it a photo taken 22 years ago during the military conflict in Mountainous Karabagh.

“‘A la guerre comme à la guerre’. No holds barred at a war. Even if this war is an information war. It is repugnant, when а photo by Ruben Mangasarian, now deceased journalist, taken in Karabagh in 1992, was used to “decorate” an article of some American professor about Ukraine… In short, this is looting”, famous photojournalist German Avagian wrote in Аsekose.am.

One can understand the initially emotional reaction of our colleague, who responded to piece “All-Out War in Ukraine”, published in the website of REX Russian news agency, which had a photo of dead soldiers, taken not in Ukraine (see the photo). However, the caption under the photo cited the headline of the piece and the name of its author – James Petras, presented by REX as “Ph.D. at the University of California”. And in the lead of the piece the news agency noted that it “publishes a translation of (his) article on the situation in Ukraine”.

A blitz survey on the Internet showed that the original English version of the article, “All-Out War in Ukraine: NATO’s ‘Final Offensive’”, was published in the Official James Petras Website on November 20, without any illustration. Moreover, according to the website, currently James Petras is not a Ph.D. at the University of California, as stated by REX, but a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.

On November 27, the Spanish version of the article was published in Rebelion.org, under the official permission of its author, and once again the piece had no photos attached.

The “misadventures” of the article, most likely, began two days later, when it was published by inoSMI.ru in Russian. In inoSMI.ru the article, though already had two anonymous photos attached, bore a reference to the Rebelion.

The REX’s reprint of December 8 had no more links to the original source, but there was the photo by Ruben Mangasarian, famous Armenian photojournalist, unfortunately now deceased, taken in 1992 during the Karabagh military conflict.

To put in another way, the photo of coffins with soldiers killed 22 years ago in Karabagh is set up by REX news agency as an illustration of today’s events in Ukraine.

When journalists start to follow the dubious principle “no holds barred at a war”, they not only violate all the other principles of journalistic ethics, but also the standards of basic competency. While the manipulations with public opinion are growing in Russia, to call the consumers of information to be critical is the lowly craft.