Iconic “falling soldier” staged – Yeah we know

July 19, 2009
The Capa "falling soldier" image - real or not?

The Capa "falling soldier" image - real or not?

Well, the controversy around Robert Capa’s “falling soldier” image from the Spanish civil war is not settled yet. A Spanish newspaper is now saying that the image was staged. AFP is now running the story globally.

A similar piece appeared in The Guardian a few weeks ago, but didn’t generate the same interest.

Regular readers of Ethical Martini will be aware that I have long been arguing that the photograph was staged. So I’m not really surprised that this is running again.

I said recently that we would have to wait to see what fresh evidence might emerge from the Mexican suitcase before it can be finally resolved.

In May this year the New York International Center for Photography, which houses the Capa archives, reported it could not find the negative for this image in the  Mexican suitcase which did contain many Spanish civil war photographs.

One interesting note from the AFP story:

El Periodico said it based its study on an exhibition–launched in New York in 2007 and now in Barcelona –of 150 Capa photos taken in conflicts during the 1930s and 1940s.

I saw this exhibition at the Barbican Centre  in London last year and I  wrote extensively on the series that includes “falling man” #1 and “falling man” #2.

I first wrote about the Capa image  in 2007. I’ve always had doubts.

En Francais, Andre Gunthert: “Capa vs Google Earth”

En Espanol, farodevigo.es: La mítica fotografía del miliciano de Capa puede ser falsa

For photojournalism students, if you want to see a reasonably interesting discussion about the ethics of the image, click on over to A Photo Editor.


Some student views on ethical fault lines

May 4, 2007

Te Waha Nui Online – AUT

My colleague, Associate Professor David Robie, has posted some interesting student work on ethical dilemmas on the Te Waha Nui website.The commentaries are from an assignment set in the AUT journalism paper Public Affairs Reporting.
Students have tackled some interesting topics:

  • When pictures may be lying: Adnan Hajj digitally altered a dramatic photo of destruction in Beirut during last year’s attacks by Israeli jets. He added extra smoke to a picture, but the crudeness of the digital manipulation meant he got caught – by bloggers.

  • Celebrity in the media: The death of Anna Nicole Smith and images of her body being manhandled into an ambulance created a media feeding frenzy that resembled the world-wide reaction to the death of Princess Diana in 1996. Why are we so fascinated with the horribly delicious aspects of celebrity drug and booze scandals?

  • Mental health and media responsibility: When privacy and the public’s right to know collide there’s always heated debate. But where is the line in the sand when the media’s exposure of a mental health patient’s work history causes him to be sacked from a job he loves?

  • Cash-for-comment Kiwi-style: If a journalist receives a grant to produce a series of stories, is their independence compromised? Does this blur the line between public relations and journalism?

  • Bloody Mary: How an episode of South Park has upset New Zealand’s Catholic Bishops and stirred the free speech debate.

Congratulations to Spike, Sarah G, Charlotte, Pricscilla, Eleanor, Todd and Sarah L.
It’s good to see that journalism students don’t lose their sense of ethics and their idealism when confronted with some of the less seemly aspects of their chosen profession. Let’s hope that as the new generation comes into its own in the newsrooms of the future that these lessons are not forgotten.