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Panpa Bulletin : March 2007
Getty Images' photographer Spencer Platt photo of young, affluent Lebanese driving through a south Beirut neighbourhood devastated by Israeli bombings in August is the World Press Photo of the Year 2006 --- but not without controversy. Platt's photo, which has been published all around the world, has been accused of misrepresenting the truth. According to a Sydney Morning Herald report by Gert Van Langendonck, the young Lebanese in the picture "are not rich Christians indulging in a bit of war tourism in Beirut's ravaged southern suburb" but locals who had gone to see if their houses had sur- vived the Israeli bombing campaign. Platt took the photo on August 15, the second day of the ceasefire that ended the 33-day war between Israel and the armed Shiite resistance group Hezbollah. "While tens of thousands of refugees from southern Lebanon were clogging the roads on the way back to their homes, many others headed for the dahiye, the Hezbollah-con- trolled southern suburbs of Beirut," said the report. "Some wanted to check if their houses had survived the bombing campaign, others were simply curious." "I had been up since 7am, walking around the dahiye, and I was just about to return to my hotel when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the red car coming,' Platt told Van Langendonck. "I shot four or five frames but I only got one good shot. I liked it because it showed another, fabulous side to Beirut. But I never thought it was the picture." According to Van Langendonck, Platt never knew who the people in his picture were but wants it known that he never meant to judge them. "For all I knew, they might have lost members of their family," he said. "No one was immune to hardship in that conflict ... What I think this image partly asks us, the viewer, is to challenge our stereotypes of victims of war.' "I attempted to capture a split second of life that can reveal to us the beauty and the multi-faceted nature of world events. One gets lost in the soupy noise that seems to increasingly encumber our world. Opinions and stereotypes are quickly made, yet mo- ments of reflection are increasingly rare." The photo is expected to be a major draw- card of the World Press Photo Exhibition to be held at Sydney's State Library from May 11, then the Brisbane Powerhouse from June 10. This photo and others appear in the annual Getty Images Year in Focus 06. We have ve copies of the 2006 book to give away to PANPA Bulletin readers. To enter, simply tell us in 10 words or less what you think was the most memorable event of 2006. Please email your response, together with your full name and mailing address, to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 30. World Press Photo of the Year 2006, Spencer Platt/Getty Images Casualty of war? 42 PANPA Bulletin March 2007 1000 words