Monday, May 12, 2014

Fake Photos of Nigerian Women in WSJ?

On Friday, May 9th, the WSJ published a photo on the front-page of their print edition (above the fold) and on the homepage of their iPad edition (image below) that appears to be a fake.  The photo is ostensibly of Nigerian women protesting the kidnapping of girls by the Boko Haram terror group and promoting the Twitter campaign #BringBackOurGirls.

The protest signs appear very... wrong.  The fonts... The colors... the wood-like framing around so many of them... the odd margins of the "RESCUE OUR YOBE GIRLS" sign...

The WSJ removed this photo from the same article on their website during the 10 hour (EDT) on Friday morning.  The photo has not turned up in any of the slide shows or other visual media related to the Nigerian kidnapping story since.

Are these signs faked?  Is this image a fake?

If this photo is a fake?  If so... Why?  What is the story that is not being investigated here?  Did the WSJ get duped?  Is the outrage over the kidnapping of the girls being ginned up under false pretenses?  Why are these women gathered?  Who organized them?  Who took the photo?  Who distributed this photo?

I think these are questions worth asking, and worth finding the answers to.  I hope some of the Wall Street Journal's competitors decide to look into it.


Andrew Ferguson said...

According to Limits to Growth (which appears to be a site related to immigration), "On the other hand, the front page suffered from politically correct photo editing. The Nigerian girls story got top billing shown by the choice of photos...Note the original photo below. Even average African folks understand the connection between border security and public safety, which is more than you can say for the Wall Street Journal." (Source:

However, the WSJ photo cited by Limits to Growth is a slightly different crop than the image you capture...and I don't think that answers the original question about the signs looking odd.

Some more digging found this:

...lots more pictures from what appears to be the same protest, two pictures in particular: and

...are from similar viewpoints as the WSJ photo.

Sahara Reporters say that "This report and photos were provided by Prince Charles Dickson."

While the photos are smaller than I would like to be able to conduct a more thorough analysis, there are several things that persuade me to believe they are real:
1. Multiple photos showing the same signs
2. Several photos capture the signs while they are bending or out of focus and the wording matches what would be expected, for example:
A) Blur and warping:
B) Blur:
C) Overexposure and warping:
3. Consistency in borders for the "RESCUE OUR YOBE GIRLS" sign in the WSJ photo and this photo:
4. Similarity in message and color between posters in question and this big poster: ...which exhibits lots of complicated features that would be hard to duplicate in Photoshop.
5. Someone who has the knowledge and skills required to fake the overexposure, warp mapping, and blur would have to have the skills/knowledge to make them look less suspicious (e.g. different font or color selection, etc).

showmestater said...

A very thorough response, Andrew, thank you for taking the time. I think the conclusion of your analysis has to be that the photos are real.

It is strange that these photos disappeared from the WSJ, though, without being reincorporated in the slide show that replaced the photo.

One larger comment: the manner of this protest... how it surfaced, the fact that it was coordinated with the White House, that there was so much pre-printed signage... it leaves... questions in the mind as to the nature of the protest.

Luther would advise us here to put the best construction on everything, so I guess one should just take it all at face value and move on. It is undoubtedly a tragedy, that the girls have been taken prisoner, and that tragedy deserves a remedy regardless of any possible ulterior motives by those behind the protest's organization.