This photo from Lebanon, published by Reuters in August, showed evidence that extra smoke had been added in Photoshop.

Reuters Investigation Leads To Dismissal Of Editor

January 18, 2007

By Daryl Lang

Reuters fired a top photo editor for the Middle East during an internal investigation of two doctored photos from the Israel-Lebanon war that were published last summer.

The editor was the second casualty of the photo manipulation controversy surrounding Reuters freelancer Adnan Hajj. Two of Hajj's photographs showed obvious signs of digital alterations. Facing a storm of criticism last August, Reuters terminated its relationship with Hajj and pulled more than 900 of his photos from its archive. A Reuters spokesperson said Thursday that the company would not release the name of the editor who was dismissed.

The investigation uncovered no more photos from Lebanon that had been doctored, Reuters editor-in-chief David Schlesinger wrote on the company blog Thursday.

"We are fully satisfied, as we conclude our extensive investigation, that it was unfortunate human error that led to the inadvertent publication of two rogue photographs. There was absolutely no intention on Reuters part to mislead the public," Schlesinger wrote.

"We were not satisfied with the degree of oversight that we had that allowed these two images to slip through," Schlesinger continued. "We have tightened procedures, taken appropriate disciplinary action and appointed one of our most experienced editors to supervise photo operations in the Middle East."

Stephen Crisp was named as the new chief photographer for the Middle East, supervising photo operations for the region. Crisp has been with Reuters since 1985 and has run photo operations in Europe and Asia and also managed the transition of sports photo service Action Images after it was acquired by Reuters in 2005, according to the company.

Schlesinger also posted a new set of detailed guidelines for acceptable uses of Adobe Photoshop software. Rules were already in place to prohibit the severe distortions to Hajj's photos – adding extra smoke in one case, and an extra projectile being dropped by a jet in another.

Additionally, Schlesinger says Reuters restructured its photo editing process, invested in more training and supervision, worked with outside experts on digital workflow, and began looking into technical means that might be used to recognize fraudulent images.

"We have restructured our pictures editing operation to ensure that senior editors deal with all potentially controversial photographs, and we have ensured that shift leaders are focusing solely on quality issues instead of doing editing themselves," Schlesinger wrote.

When Hajj's two suspicious photographs moved on the Reuters wire service in August, blogs critical of the media's portrayal of Israel were quick to draw attention to them. Bloggers lobbed accusations against many other photographers who worked in Lebanon, though Hajj was the only one proven to have manipulated his work.

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