Zee News came under fire on Friday after netizens accused the Hindi news channel of allegedly photoshopping the face of an armed rioter in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh during violent Bharat Bandh protests earlier in the week.
Several Facebook and Twitter users accused Zee News of unscrupulously editing footage to give viewers the impression that the rioter, who was seen carrying a rifle, was a Muslim. Netizens shared a screenshot from Zee News’ bulletin, where the man appears with a longer beard and buzz cut, and contrasted it with the image of the same person on ndtv.in.
The man in the video is from the same viral clip that shows Raja Chauhan (wearing a white shirt) firing a pistol into a crowd. Madhya Pradesh police have launched a man hunt to find him.
A site named ‘Bolta UP‘ (Uttar Pradesh Speaks) has accused the channel of anti-Muslim propaganda.
BOOM went back to the source videos of both images from April 2, 2018.
At 0:13 YouTube counter, the man, whose identity is not known, can be seen in the video. The channel froze the frame to show the rioter and also used a red circle to highlight him. In this particular frame he appears to have a longer beard and a closely cropped haircut.
We also looked at the video footage on khabar.ndtv.com and took a screenshot of the same man at 0:34. NDTV aslo showed the man in a freeze frame. However, here the man looks to have a shorter beard and his hair appears to be longer. Click here to view the video.
However, when BOOM looked at an unedited clip of the video, we found that the same result of giving the rioter the appearance of a longer beard could be achieved by pausing the video prematurely. In our tweet below, we used a longer clip published by news channel News 18 on Twitter. We then held down the pause button and slowly scrolled the timeline. This test was performed on Twitter itself without the aid of any editing software.
We were asked to fact check whether @ZeeNews morphed the protester’s beard. We don’t think this video has been manipulated.
We paused it and got the same result. At best, we can only guess that this is bad editing. Check our video. pic.twitter.com/6JyYTesg11
— BOOM FactCheck (@boomlive_in) April 6, 2018
Our informed guess here is that the shutter speed of the camera may have not been fast enough to capture the action cleanly and because the camera panned quickly, the previous frame is still visible, therefore the effect is of a double exposure.
Here we have circled the part in black where the frames overlap and the same can be seen in Zee News’ video, leading us to conclude that the image was not photoshopped. Click here to view News 18’s tweet and try the experiment.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) April 2, 2018
BOOM has reached out to a senior editor working at Zee News and has tagged its handle on Twitter to understand how the visual was created. We will update our story upon receiving a response.