Mistaken for a dead icon

Fascinating and tragic interview with Neda Soltani who was mistaken for a dead icon – Radio interview

Neda Soltani’s life was turned upside down when the international media used her photo instead of that of a student, called Neda Agha-Soltan, who was shot dead during a demonstration in Tehran in 2009.

BBC’s Phil Coombs:

Photographs of those unfortunate enough to be caught up in news events, often in tragic circumstances, have always been sought by the media. They bring a sense of the person central to the story and allow readers to identify with them.

In the past, reporters on the ground would approach relatives for a hand-out picture, which agencies would syndicate to national and international media. But this takes time and today we consume, and demand, stories and photographs faster than ever before, which means news organisations will dig for those pictures on social media sites.

Of course, there are many issues to consider, including verification of identity and copyright. Both of those can be dealt with in time, but there is also an ethical angle – whether the media has the right to take a photograph from one context and use it in another, away from the audience it was intended for.

There is no simple answer as the situation varies from story to story.

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