"Once the amateur's naive approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur."

Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898-1995)

 
David Nolan
MEDIA ETHICS



 

Radar Online accusing Time of getting crafty with Reagan cover

Time Magazine's most recent cover showing a crying former president Reagan. The tear was Photoshopped into a David Hume Kennerly photo. The table of contents describes the image this way: 'Photograph by David Hume Kennerly. Tear by Tim O'Brien.'

by Ron Brynaert, 15 March 2007
The Raw Story (http://rawstory.com/)

"Is Time hoping a little controversy will draw attention to its redesign?" Jeff Bercovici asks, adding that, "A somewhat cryptic credit in small type on the (revamped!) table of contents describes the image this way: 'Photograph by David Hume Kennerly. Tear by Tim O'Brien.' Nowhere does it specifically state that the cover is a photo illustration--in other words, that it's Photoshopped."

Bercovici ponders two questions: "Is the wording of the credit enough to make its provenance clear to unsophisticated readers? And, equally important, how will the conservative acolytes who worship Reagan as a demigod feel about seeing a faked image of their hero used for a story criticizing the movement he championed?"

An update added later to Bercovici's article quoted a spokesperson for Time who defended the cover, explaining that "Time regularly runs conceptual covers, as we did last week with the 'Verdict on Cheney' cover, depicting the vice president standing under storm clouds.'"

"That image was far less subtle in its artificiality, but fair point," Bercovici responds.

The spokesperson's statement continues, "This week's cover image is clearly credited on the table of contents page, naming both the photographer of the Reagan photo and the illustrator of the tear."

The conservative Drudge Report website is linking to the Time cover story with the following banner headline in bright red capital letters: 'CRYING REAGAN' TO LAUNCH TIME MAG REDESIGN.

Is Time hoping a little controversy will draw attention to its redesign? The first new-look issue, on newsstands tomorrow, features what appears to be a photo of Ronald Reagan with a fat tear sliding down his cheek, illustrating the cover story, "How the Right Went Wrong." A somewhat cryptic credit in small type on the (revamped!) table of contents describes the image this way: "Photograph by David Hume Kennerly. Tear by Tim O'Brien." Nowhere does it specifically state that the cover is a photo illustration--in other words, that it's Photoshopped.

The use of a striking but fabricated image is consistent with the vision laid out by new managing editor Rick Stengel, who has said he wants Time to be more like The Economist—the British newsweekly that often features humorous photo illustrations on its cover. Still, one wonders: Is the wording of the credit enough to make its provenance clear to unsophisticated readers? And, equally important, how will the conservative acolytes who worship Reagan as a demigod feel about seeing a faked image of their hero used for a story criticizing the movement he championed?

Newspaper photo reveals lottery winner's personal information

Newport resident Venison Turner Jr., pictured with his son, holds a copy of his winning ticket worth $300,000 and the paperwork filed with the Maine Lottery (his personal information has been blurred in this photo). Photo by David Leaming, Morning Sentinel

Lottery Post Exclusive by Todd Northrop, published 14 March.

Maine's Morning Sentinel newspaper appears to have revealed a lottery winner's address and social security number in a published photo. In a story that ran in the February 27 edition of the Sentinel, Newport resident Venison Turner Jr. was pictured together with his son, holding a copy of a winning ticket worth $300,000 and the paperwork filed with the Maine Lottery. The man's personal information is clearly visible.

In the Sunday, March 11 edition of the Sentinel, a letter from reader John Ferry was published, scolding the paper for missing the glaring mistake. "What has he won? Because of the lack of editing he has won a lifetime of grief," Ferry wrote. "Within seconds of glancing at this picture, I noticed the form in the picture includes the man's name, address, telephone number, date of birth and even his Social Security number." Photographs of smiling lottery winners holding giant mock checks made of cardboard are commonplace after a big win. The photos normally display the winner's name and prize amount, both of which are required to be disclosed anyway, so they are not considered private.

But disclosing a winner's address and other personal details can magnify the already difficult task of maintaining a degree of privacy that winners face, and may even be dangerous. Criminals looking for easy targets have targeted lottery winners in the past. Because lottery winners often come from humble beginnings, they typically do not have the security resources or experience to protect their new wealth -- a fact that thieves use to their advantage. Publishing a winner's address immediately after a big prize win allows a quick-acting thief a window of opportunity, before the winner is able to equip themselves.

According to Eric Conrad, Executive Editor of the Morning Sentinel, the photo was taken at the winner's home. Even though Conrad emphasized that the photo was not displayed on any of the newspaper's web sites, it was indeed posted on the Sentinel web site. Additionally, the photo in question could be enlarged by directly linking to the image file. Although the image is not displayed in high resolution, it may be enough for image experts to extract the personal information from it.

After the original photo ran in the Sentinel on February 27, the newspaper, as well as the winner himself, were contacted by readers concerned for Turner's safety. Conrad published an explanation of the newspaper's actions a day later.

Editor explains lottery winner's photo: "Venison Turner Jr. is doing OK. Tuesday's Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal ran a photo of the Newport man holding his winning, $300,000 Maine lottery ticket and claim form. Unfortunately, in many issues of the newspapers, Turner's Social Security number and other data could be read. The photo was not posted at our newspaper Web sites. I talked to Turner twice Tuesday morning and apologized for what happened. Photographer David Leaming did likewise. We also alerted officials with the Maine Lottery. Turner was told about the photo by a friend before our first telephone call, and he already had contacted the Social Security Administration's fraud-prevention office. The office told Turner how to go online and post notices with all major credit-reporting agencies so that no one can open an account using Turner's data without Turner, personally, approving the transaction by telephone or in writing. Turner has taken those steps. Our newspapers have offered to hire an accountant or other professional to review Turner's credit reports to make certain his finances, and his recent good fortune, are protected. At this point, Turner isn't sure that is necessary. The photo was published this way: Leaming went to Turner's home Monday to take the winner's photo, and asked if Turner had the winning ticket or something official from the Lottery officials. Turner retrieved the claim form, and the photo was snapped. Several editors at the newspaper saw black-and-white, printout copies of the photo, but the numbers generally were not legible in them. Blown up in size as it appeared in the newspapers, many of the numbers could be read. About a dozen readers called and wrote to us Tuesday about what happened. Thank you for pointing this out." Eric Conrad, executive editor, Morning Sentinel

The Independent gets too much inspiration from the New York Times

The New York Times published the graphic above left on February 3, 2007. The Independent of London published the graphic on the left on February 8, 2007.

Published by Juan Antonio Giner February 8th, 2007.

Is this too much inspiration? Perhaps the editor of The Independent does not read The New York Times. But their graphic artists sure do.

St. Francis superintendent defends photo ban: ACLU willing to take up school paper's case

January 18, 2007
By Dave Orrick, Pioneer Press
Photo by Eric Sheforgen

The picture is of a scene in the fall play at St. Francis High School, The Children's Story. The high school's principal has banned the student newspaper from running the image, which shows a character destroying what appears to be a U.S. flag. It is actually bunting. A northern Anoka County school-district superintendent this afternoon is defending the censorship of a student newspaper on the grounds that photo depicts the destruction of the American flag.

Several First Amendment experts say the school officials are overstepping the law, and at least one civil liberties group said it might be interested in taking up the students' cause. A blue box, big and bold on the front-page of the St. Francis High School student newspaper, stands in for a photo that student editors say was unjustly banned by the school principal. Inside the box on the front-page of the new edition of The Crier: "Originally a photo was to be placed here, but was censored by the administration." The caption below hints to the sensitive issue that is framing the free-speech feud in the northern Anoka County school: "During the Fall Play Lead Actress Becca Bennett held up a prop, made from table cloth bunting, representing how a country could be torn apart by affecting the youth. The picture was removed off the wall in the PAC hallway." (PAC stands for Performing Arts Center.)

Prop or not, the jarring photo - which the Pioneer Press will publish in its Friday editions - resembles the tattered remains of an American flag. The image is hardly unknown to the students and staff, since the scene was performed on stage and the photo itself hung in the school's hall. The Crier has gone to press and is expected to be distributed tomorrow. According to a front-page article written by Editor in Chief Eric Sheforgen, who also took the picture, as well as an editorial in the paper and a statement made today by the editorial board, Principal Paul Neubauer threatened the paper with legal action and froze its funds after the paper gave him a heads-up that they were planning to run it.

The paper and a national expert on school-newspaper censorship say he had no legal right to because officials have always let the students make their own decisions and because that's even spelled out in the school district's written policy. Neubauer did not immediately return a phone message left for him Ed Saxton, superintendent of Independent School Dist. 15, defended the St. Francis decision on the grounds that flag destruction can be offensive.

"It's like a quote being taken out of context," Saxton, a former principal of the high school, said. "That particular picture, although it's a snapshot of what was in the fall play, standing in isolation, it could be taken in many different ways. It could be pretty offensive to veterans or people who serviced in the military. It's kind of a community standards thing." But several experts said the school was wrong.

In general, school officials can censor school-financed publications, but only under some circumstances, according to U.S. Supreme Court opinions. The Crier's editorial board, which has consulted a legal consultant with the national Student Press Law Center, is maintaining that because Neubauer has declined to review the paper before publication in the past, and because the paper has decades of history operating in this way, he has no ability to essentially force the paper to not publish the photo. According to the school district’s written policy, "Official school publications are free from prior restraint by officials except as provided by law."

"This is actually pretty clear," Mike Hiestand, the Law Center's legal consultant who spoke to The Crier, told the Pioneer Press this afternoon. According to the paper's account of Neubauer's position, the principal and school attorney are standing on a landmark 1988 Supreme Court decision regarding high school censorship that expanded such prior restraint for schools.

But Hiestand said it's "common misconception" that case gave school officials a blank check to censor. He cited a 2002 Michigan federal appeals court ruling that showed when a school had established that its paper was an "open forum" -- as The Crier maintains it is -- officials have much more limited rights to censor a student news paper. According to a statement today by The Crier editorial board, "While we have a legal right to print the picture ... we decided that we would not place the picture in the newspaper out of fear that the future of the newspaper could be in jeopardy if we choose to take this path. ... There has been a complete disregard for the law and students rights."

After consulting with his legal staff, Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, said late this afternoon his agency might be interested in taking up the students' cause. And legal standing aside, Samuelson readily criticized Neubauer's actions. "It sends a really bad message to students, and that's why he shouldn't do it,'" he said, noting that school journalism exercises are often intended to educate students on the rights, and responsibilities, of free speech. "It was a teaching moment, and he blew it."

Destroying the Stars and Stripes is clearly protected by the First Amendment, the Supreme Court has held. Nonetheless, in the actual school production of "The Children's Story," a Cold War tale exploring a hypothetical takeover by the Soviet Union, a sleight of hand allowed students to hold up an actual U.S. flag, but then produce tattered shreds of bunting for the audience to see, so no flag was ever harmed.

White House stiffs news photogs

This is the official photograph distributed by the White House that many news organizations refused to run.

Posted on the web by Frank James

The White House refused access to President Bush to photographers from news organizations after his Iraq speech, handing out a White House photo instead which many news organizations refused to use. The photographic stand-off was chronicled in a publication called Photo District News.

Here's a portion of that story: The White House broke with tradition Wednesday night and refused to let photojournalists shoot still pictures of the president at the podium after his prime-time address on the Iraq war. As a result, newspapers and wire services had little choice but to run low-quality frame grabs from the video of the speech. An official handout photo from the White House, which most news outlets rejected, was the only other option. Caught in a bind on deadline, some newspapers ran the official White House photo with no disclosure that it was provided by the government.

Some might ask what's the big deal? It's just a photo after all. The answer is that reputable news organizations don't really want to be in the business of reproducing government handouts or other canned government information. When it's happened and become public, there's typically an uproar in the media and out, as when Americans learned that the government had created video segments that masqueraded as news videos generated by local news stations and which were shown around the country. Like every other segment of society, the main stream media has its flaws. We have too often, knowingly or not, become conduits for government propaganda. But we mostly try not to be part of the White House marketing apparatus. The photos taken by photographers who work for the White House are meant to show the president in the best possible light. The job of news photographers and editors is to try and show the president in the truest possible light. Those are two distinctly different goals. Which is why many news organizations refused to use the official White House photo.

Exposed Nike logo raises TV ethics questions

CBS reporter Scott Pelley (above right) with the Nike logo exposed during the 60 Minutes interview.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
By John Ferro
Poughkeepsie Journal
To bring a story home to the viewer, television reporters sometimes immerse themselves in what they are reporting. That's what "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley did in a report that aired on Dec. 10. Pelley was reporting on the growth of mixed martial arts sports. Pelley donned a sweat suit, got on the mat with some martial arts instructors and worked up a good sweat to show viewers what the training can be like. Then he sat down to interview one of the sport's leaders. That's when viewers got a brief look at something Pelley and his producers didn't want them to see: a shot of Nike's distinctive logo, the famous "swoosh," smack dab under the neckline of Pelley's sweat suit. The logo is clearly visible in only one shot during the piece, the second-to-last featuring Pelley. And it appeared despite the efforts of producers to hide it. "The producer noticed Scott Pelley had worn a shirt with the swoosh logo on it before the interview and blacked it with a pen so it wouldn't show up on camera," CBS spokesman Kevin Tedesco said in an e-mail interview. Tedesco said the logo showed up on screen "when the light hit it just right." The brief bit of unintended, free advertising for Nike -- a Nike spokeswoman said there was no collaboration with CBS -- highlighted the challenges reporters in the visual media face when trying to avoid the appearance of endorsing a product. And it also gave some insight into the ever-changing ethical challenges of the digital age. A media ethics expert praised the "60 Minutes" producers for trying to fix the problem in the field, and not during post-production.

"You would have a different ethics issue if they had just fixed it by blacking it out in post-production," Al Tompkins of the Florida-based Poynter Institute said in an e-mail interview. "That would have been altering reality. But inking over it in the field is a great fix to a problem. The camera recorded what was actually there and it aired as the camera saw it." Tedesco said the only time CBS news reporters are permitted to alter people or places digitally is if it is to protect sources' identities or whereabouts who have requested anonymity. Otherwise, the news division's standards and practices clearly state that "the results of the editing process must scrupulously reflect what actually happened," Tedesco said. Those practices are typical of the industry. "I think that for them, the whole thing is everybody knows now that changes after the fact are so easy," said Carol Pauli, an assistant professor of journalism and mass communication law at Marist College and a former news writer for CBS radio. "And that makes scrupulous adherence to the standard all the more important. People suspect you are doing it, so you have to say (you're not doing it) and live up to not doing it."

The Dartmouth Review angers Native Americans over cover illustration

The image (above) getting all the attention ran on the cover of The Dartmouth Review.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Dartmouth University's student run newspaper recently angered many at the university over its depiction of Native Americans on the cover. The related story was over the use of Native Americans as school mascots. Here is a letter to the university population from The Dartmouth Review editors:

Dear Dartmouth,

The recent Dartmouth Review cover depicting a warrior with a scalp was a mistake. It distracted attention from the serious journalism The Dartmouth Review has been publishing, not least in the articles that came after the cover. The result was that people are discussing the cover, the scalp, and the offense felt by descendants of the original Americans. In the discussions on the staff prior to publishing this issue, there were reservations about the cover. We certainly agree with the statement of President James Wright that all students at Dartmouth whatever their background, should feel welcome here. At the same time we find there exists some paranoia, no little hysteria really, on the part of the official Dartmouth on the matter of the now abandoned "Indian symbol." As an example we cite the recent gratuitous insult offered by athletic director Josie Harper to the University of North Dakota because its hockey team uses the university’s Indian logo. She was properly rebuked by the president of that university. There is such a thing as minding your own business. There is also such a thing as achieving a bit of perspective, even developing a sense of humor. There are no "racists" or people who "hate" at The Dartmouth Review. Such terms are the cliches of unearned, but desperately desired, moral superiority. The best course for those of a conservative disposition is to employ evidence, learning, logic, and wit to combat what Orwell called "the smelly little orthodoxies now contending for our minds." Because much about Dartmouth is liberal, this intellectual combat must necessarily seem conservative, though, occasionally, the orthodoxies will not be creatures of leftism, and the arguments we employ must be merely true. If persuasiveness is desirable, then boorishness must be rejected. Offense as such should not be sought out. We believe that offense and truth reside on two independent axes: the Review must measure its success on the axis of truth, not of offense. In campus debates, there are bound to be topics that cause people to react viscerally, because they offend their particular suspensions of reason. The solution, however, is not usually a swift punch in the gut. Instead, the staff must produce a thought-provoking, funny, and persuasive newspaper. We have before and will continue to do so.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Desai, Managing Editor, and Emily Ghods-Esfahani, Associate Editor. Special thanks to Professor Jeffrey Hart for helping us to draft this letter.

Elizabeth Vargas not happy with faked photo

Marie Claire's faked image of Elizabeth Vargas, the former anchor of ABC's World News Tonight for a story in the December issue.

From Mediabistro and The Drudge Report

November 2006

Ashley Judd topless on the cover is one thing. A breastfeeding ex-nightly news anchor, it appears, is quite another. Elizabeth Vargas, the former anchor of ABC's World News Tonight who lost -- or left -- her job before going on maternity leave, is disappointed that Marie Claire chose to photoshop her head onto a model's body breastfeeding behind an anchor desk to illustrate its feature interview with her in the December issue, on which Judd appears topless on its cover -- a first, according to editor Joanna Coles.

From Drudge:

A source close to Vargas: "Elizabeth was more than happy to sit for the interview but was disturbed that the magazine would set aside basic journalistic standards to photoshop her head onto a fake image. Vargas did joke that her real baby is cuter, that she is proud to breastfeed her newborn but wouldn't do it at the anchor desk and that she wouldn't be caught dead in that ugly gold blouse!"A Marie Claire spokesperson: "There isn't a working mother who can't relate to this image and immediately identify with the very real dilemma Elizabeth Vargas wrestled with. We do not believe anyone seriously thought she would nurse and report the news the same time! This is an image illustration and is stated so with the byline of this story. We only want to make the point that women choosing between their career and being a parent is a tough decision that we are very sensitive to."

Many fume over hot ad in lawyers newspaper

By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff, November 2006

She's a sensual brunette showing a flash of cleavage and lots of inner thigh. She's tugging at the necktie of a handsome executive, pulling him aggressively toward her. Eyes closed, mouth slightly open as they prepare to kiss, she's wearing a men's suit jacket and not much else. It's a glossy, full-color advertising insert for a clothing company with this racy caption: "A custom-tailored suit is a natural aphrodisiac." And it's triggered a blitz of indignant letters and calls to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, where it recently appeared for three weeks in a row.

"Highly insulting," wrote one reader. "Puerile, tasteless, and offensive," wrote another. "Wrong on so many levels," added a third. Another was even more blunt: "Stop publishing this ad." About two dozen readers have contacted the paper to complain that the insert, for a New York company called Jiwani, objectifies females and undermines gender equality. It is especially inappropriate, many of them said, for a publication that targets the legal industry, where women struggle mightily to achieve the same respect and status as men.

The decibel level ramped up after the paper's publisher, David Yas, wrote a column defending the ad, which he called "par-for-the-course in the fashion industry." Critics, he suggested, were "a bunch of self-important prudes." That spurred another round of blistering comments, including some that described his response as "stupid" and "sophomoric." It also prompted the president of the Women's Bar Association to weigh in. "As lawyers, we are obligated to fight against gender discrimination, in whatever form it may take," Kathleen M. O'Connor wrote in a letter in Monday's issue. "We expect more from this paper."

Reached yesterday, Yas said Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly hadn't originally considered the ad in poor taste, but, "in listening to our readers, we learned that the ad was offensive to many of them." As a result, he said, the paper has suggested to the company that it design tamer ads in the future. "We absolutely want to allow people that make suits to advertise in our paper, but we're a lot different in tone and feel from fashion magazines, so people do see us differently and we should see ourselves differently," Yas said. "It's a balancing act, and the up side of this controversy was that it provided a forum for exactly this type of discussion."

Stores Pull Phoenix, Cite Photo as Reason

By KEVIN WACK, Staff Writer Portland Press Herald Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Shaw's supermarket chain was definitely not looking for this kind of exposure.

Shaw's, which has 23 stores in Maine, pulled the most recent issue of the Portland Phoenix from its shelves because the weekly newspaper contains a nude photograph of the late poet Allen Ginsberg on one of its inside pages. The portrait accompanies a review of a new Ginsberg biography in the Phoenix's Oct. 13-19 edition. The photo shows the acclaimed Beat poet gazing into the eyes of his longtime lover, Peter Orlovsky. Both men are naked, and they're shown from the front. Shaw's spokeswoman Judy Chong declined to answer questions Tuesday about the company's decision to remove the newspaper. Instead, she released a written statement that read, "It's not our policy to censor material produced by an independent publisher if the material falls within the guidelines of the law and is not considered patently obscene or offensive. Shaw's reviewed the content of this publication and decided to remove the paper based on the nude images." It was unclear whether the company made its decision because of a complaint by one or more customers.

The Phoenix's office in Portland referred questions to Peter Kadzis, the newspaper's executive editor in Boston. Kadzis wrote the weekly's review of the Ginsberg biography, which is titled "I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg." He noted that Elsa Dorfman, who took the portrait of Ginsberg and Orlovsky in 1980, is an internationally acclaimed photographer, and said the portrait is part of the permanent collection at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. "The Phoenix published it in Boston without controversy," Kadzis said. "We're sorry that it has created a problem." Kadzis added that the news media seemed to have more interest in the photograph than did the public. "This paper's been on the stands for a week, and we've gotten one complaint," he said. "That tells me that this is not a widespread problem." Dorfman, who took the nude portrait, was a friend of Ginsberg's before he died in 1997. She still works as a photographer in Cambridge, Mass.

Katie's nip & tuck: CBS mag's pic cuts anchor down in size

CBS's altered image of Couric (left) and the unaltered image (right).

BY LLOYD GROVE, RICHARD HUFF and BILL HUTCHINSON, New York DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

August 2006

Katie Couric slimmed down in the blink of a CBS eye. Tiffany Network officials admitted yesterday that an airbrushed photo making the bubbly broadcaster appear several dress sizes smaller appeared in its promotional magazine "Watch!" The incoming "CBS Evening News" anchor said she didn't know about the digitally doctored photo until the September issue of the quarterly glossy landed on her desk. "I liked the first picture better because there's more of me to love," the 49-year-old former NBC "Today" show host said, laughing off the manipulated publicity shot. The original photo, which shows Couric looking more bosomy and thicker in the shoulders, waist and cheeks, was snapped in May. CBS spokeswoman Dana McClintock blamed the goof on Watch! magazine's staffers. "The editorial staff of Watch! magazine retouched the photo without the knowledge of Miss Couric and CBS News management," McClintock said. Watch! editor Jeremy Murphy declined comment. CBS News President Sean McManus said he was "obviously surprised and disappointed when I heard about it." "But having time to consider, I've asked that 3 inches in height be added to my official CBS photo," McManus quipped.

Question: When is it okay, if ever, to manipulate a photograph? Because Watch Magazine is not neccesarily a news magazine, can reality be retouched? What is your opinion on this matter? E-mail me

Looking Through a Lens: One 9/11 picture, thousands of words: Rorschach of meanings


Photo by Thomas Hoepker

BY RICHARD B. WOODWARD
Tuesday, September 19, 2006 12:01 a.m.

Faith in the camera as an infallible eyewitness was supposed to have died for good with the advent of Photoshop. Critics have opined for years that the popularity of such digital trickery would erode the truth value of all photographs. What attorney would risk introducing an 8-by-10 print as evidence of a murder scene if jury members knew how to rotate bodies and paintbox skin tones on their home computers?

So far, nothing of the sort has happened; indeed, quite the reverse. Despite the shame visited this summer upon certain photojournalists for their "fauxtography" in Lebanon--darkening skies, adding smoke and fire to scenes of battle--evidence produced by cameras has never been so prevalent or taken for granted. The view that photographs accurately reflect the chaos of events or inner states of mind remains stubbornly unshaken, and some of the most zealous believers are photographers themselves.

The eruption in the media and on photo blogs last week over an image taken on 9/11 by the German photographer Thomas Hoepker--and the glib interpretation put upon it by Frank Rich in the New York Times--has proved once again that we don't need Photoshop to doctor the meaning of an image. Our minds do this job, adding or eliding information as we see fit, better than any computer program.

For those who tuned in late, Mr. Hoepker's photograph depicts five young white New Yorkers on the Brooklyn waterfront engaged in conversation while smoke from the World Trade Towers billows above and behind them. The scene includes a park bench and a bicycle, blue sky and water. The quintet seem to be concentrating on each other on a gorgeous day with the disaster purely as background.

As reported by David Friend in his new book "Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11," Mr. Hoepker saw the people in his photograph as "totally relaxed like any normal afternoon. They were just chatting away. It's possible they lost people and cared, but they were not stirred by it . . . I can only speculate [but they] didn't seem to care."

That was enough for Mr. Rich to declare in his column this Sept. 10 that "from the perspective of 9/11's fifth anniversary, Mr. Hoepker's photo is prescient as well as important--a snapshot of history soon to come. What he caught was this: Traumatic as the attack on America was, 9/11 would recede quickly for many. This is a country that likes to move on, and fast. The young people in Mr. Hoepker's photo aren't necessarily callous. They're just American."

The next day the journalist David Plotz wrote a piece on Slate that disputed Mr. Rich, calling his reading of the image a "cheap shot." In Mr. Plotz's view the five have not ignored or moved beyond 9/11 but have "turned toward each other for solace and for debate." He asked any of the people in the photograph to contact Slate and describe the event from their side of the lens.

First to respond was Walter Sipser, a Brooklyn artist. "A snapshot can make mourners attending a funeral look like they're having a party," he wrote. "Had Hoepker walked fifty feet over to introduce himself he would have discovered a bunch of New Yorkers in the middle of an animated discussion about what had just happened." Another figure in the picture who wrote in was Chris Schiavo, a professional photographer. She bitterly chastised both Mr. Rich and Mr. Hoepker for their "cynical expression of an assumed reality." As a "third-generation native New Yorker, who knows and loves every square inch of this city," whose "mother even worked for Minoru Yamasaki, the World Trade Center architect," she stated that "it was genetically impossible for me to be unaffected by this event."

It can't be fun to have your public moment of emotional confusion hijacked by a Magnum photographer and turned into a national symbol of moral disgrace by a New York Times columnist.

Mr. Hoepker and Mr. Rich interpreted the picture for their own purposes, claiming to know from the relaxed gestures of the group and the context of the event what the five were talking about and thinking.

But their simplistic reading of the image, however mistaken in the view of those in it, is more naive than malicious. Their translation is not absurd and can be supported by elements in the image. The meanings of photographs are inherently unstable. Without captions to nail down who, what, why, where, when, they tend to drift away into the inscrutable oblivion--one reason the medium was so beloved by the surrealists. The poignancy (or hilarity) of many found photographs is that they have lost their original context, the storyline that made them necessary at the time.

Reuters fires photojournalist and pulls pictures from archives

Adnan Hajj's altered image (above) and the unaltered image (below), along with Reuters' picture kill order.

August 2006

By ELIANA JOHNSON

Reuters withdrew a photograph of Beirut after an Israeli air attack on the city, saying it was digitally altered by one of its freelance photographers. Buildings were cloned, and smoke was distorted in order to create the appearance of darker smoke than was actually present.

The caption on the manipulated photo read, "Smoke billows from burning buildings destroyed during an overnight Israeli air raid on Beirut's suburbs."

The news wire immediately withdrew the photograph. In a statement accompanying its "picture kill," Reuters said, "Photo editing software was improperly used on this image." It issued a corrected version.

The photographer who supplied the picture, Adnan Hajj, has worked for Reuters on a freelance basis since 1993. Mr. Hajj "denied deliberately attempting to manipulate the image, saying he was trying to remove dust marks and that he made mistakes due to the bad lighting conditions he was working under," Reuters said."This represents a serious breach of Reuters standards, and we shall not be accepting or using pictures taken by him," Reuters said.

Update: Reuters has fired Hajj and removed every photo (more than 900 images) he had supplied to the news agency over the years.

El Nuevo Herald altered photo

By Chuck Strouse
(
Article Published Jul 27, 2006)

Clues to Deception: In the doorway, there is a sharp variation in light between the right and left sides. Note the difference in perspective between the police officers and prostitutes. The police officers cast shadows. The prostitutes don't.

A striking, five-column color photo was splashed across the Sunday, June 25 edition of El Nuevo Herald. It showed four spandex-clad prostitutes in Cuba hailing a foreign tourist. Just a few feet away, two policemen conversed with a little girl and a woman. The headline: "Hookers: The Sad Meat of the American Dollar."

The cops obviously didn't care about the working girls, a clear sign of the hypocritically wanton ways of Fidel Castro's Cuba.

Problem is, the picture was a fake. Indeed it was just the kind of manipulated combination of two images that prompted the Los Angeles Times to fire staff photographer Brian Walski in 2003. Walski, you may recall, altered two photos of an American soldier to make them appear as one, more dramatic image. Several papers unknowingly published the combo on their front pages, and Thom McGuire, a Hartford Courant assistant managing editor, said the incident made him "sick to my stomach."

El Nuevo's sin was worse. Its image, on page 27A, appeared with the caption "The government has proven incapable of confronting the dramatic phenomenon of prostitution" and a story about a book on Cuba's working girls by author Amir Valle.

It pushed an anti-Castro agenda in a newspaper advertised by its new owners, McClatchy and Co., as the "most-honored, highest-circulation Spanish-language newspaper in the continental United States."

And, perhaps worse, higherups at El Nuevo overrode the objections of veteran photographer Roberto Koltun, who snapped both pictures several years ago in Cuba (and didn't return a call seeking comment). "Two things were put together," commented photo coordinator Orlando Mellado. "[Koltun] expressed concern about it for that reason and others. He basically didn't want it used."

Schneider fired for second lapse

Patrick Schneider's altered image in The Charlotte Observer (above).

July 2006

Patrick Schneider, a staff photographer with The Charlotte Observer, was fired from the newspaper for changing a photograph, the second lapse for the Observer photojournalist. Editor Rick Thames wrote to readers that a photograph by Schneider was "in violation of accuracy standards" and "improperly altered." Thames said the picture, "depicted a Charlotte firefighter on a ladder, silhouetted by the light of the early morning sun. In the original photo, the sky in the photo was brownish-gray. Enhanced with photo-editing software, the sky became a deep red and the sun took on a more distinct halo. The Observer's photo policy states: 'No colors will be altered from the original scene photographed.' Because of the most recent violation of our photo policy, Schneider no longer works at the Observer. We apologize for this misstep. Your trust is important to us. We will do all we can do to ensure the integrity of all our photos going forward."

In 2003 Schneider was suspended from work without pay for three days for adjusting colors in photographs that were entered in the North Carolina Press Photographers Association's annual contest. (Go to the link below to see Schneider's previous photography)

Imitation, the sincerest form of flattery?

BusinessWeek magazine ran the cover (above) six months after Seattle Weekly magazine ran their cover (below).

June 2006

From Stephen J. Adler, editor-in-chief, BusinessWeek: "I wrote the headline, Bill Gates Gets Schooled, for the BusinessWeek cover and was unaware of the Seattle Weekly headline, story or cover art until I saw the Romenesko posting today. Our reporters hadn't run across the Seattle Weekly piece during their research. I've now read the Seattle Weekly story, which is excellent. Both their story, and ours, are well worth reading."

(from Poynter Institute staff)

'48 Hours' apologizes for altered image

CBS aired an altered image of the Tribune's front page for its "48 Hours Mystery." Above is the original Tribune front page. Below is an image from the show.

February 23, 2006

The executive producer of CBS' "48 Hours Mystery" has apologized for airing an altered image of the front page of the Tribune in an episode about the murder trial of Ryan Ferguson. The producer, Susan Zirinsky, said she didn't know the image of the front page containing the story about Ferguson's sentencing had been manipulated until this week after Tribune Managing Editor Jim Robertson complained to CBS in an e-mail.

"It was an egregious oversight for us not to know it, "Zirinsky said. "It was a graphic, and we don't feel it changed the editorial value of the story, per se. "Bob Steele, a senior ethics faculty member at the Poynter Institute, a premier journalism training center in Florida, said CBS executives should apologize to viewers and use the network's Web site to explain what went wrong and accept responsibility for an ethical failure. "What they did wrong was twofold," he said. "One, they altered reality by changing a piece of documentary journalism. "Secondly, they deceived their viewers because they left them with the impression that what they showed was a truthful representation of what the newspaper showed."

The TV newsmagazine showed several front pages from the Tribune during its hourlong program "Dream Killer," about the trial of Ferguson, found guilty in October of killing Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt. Zirinsky said the graphic has been changed in the master tape of the program to accurately reflect the Tribune's front page. A freelancer hired by CBS for the first time was responsible for the alteration, Zirinsky said. "We feel we are doing the right thing," she said. "We have apologized to the editor."

(By Sara Agnew of the Tribune's staff)

MAXIM Magazine uses fake image of celebrity


The only "real" part of the image is the head shot that was spliced onto a model's body shot.

January 2006

Source: Hany Farid, http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/home.html

Famed Indian movie star Khushboo is taking legal action against the publishers of Maxim magazine for the publication of a doctored photograph. The photograph was created by digitally splicing Khushboo's head onto another model's scantily clad body. This photograph was published in the Indian version of Maxim under the heading "Women you will never see in Maxim - 100% fake". Magizine editor, Sunil Mehra, said "We are deeply apologetic for causing any inadvertent hurt and offence to Khushboo. Despite an apology, Khushboo plans to go to court, "Indeed the punishment that is finally meted out to them should be a deterrent against anyone who tries to treat women as a commodity and exploit them as they please. I will not opt for any kind of out-of-court settlement," she said.

Cartoonist fired for plagiarism

The top cartoon is Englehart's 1981 original followed
by the recently plagiarized version that got Simpson fired.

NOVEMBER 11, 2005

Tulsa ( Okla. ) World editorial cartoonist David Simpson was fired Thursday after being charged with plagiarism. The Hartford ( Conn. ) Courant's Bob Englehart, who informed E&P about the firing, was the cartoonist whose work was copied. "It was an obvious theft," said Englehart, who added that Simpson has been accused of plagiarism in the past by other cartoonists.

Englehart's cartoon was actually from way back in 1981, while Simpson's version ran this June. Englehardt surmised that Simpson saw it in a book collection before drawing it for the World. Someone familiar with Englehardt's work noticed the cartoon while traveling and mailed it to the Courant. The paper informed the World, which investigated the matter and made its decision. Englehart is puzzled about why Simpson copied him. "He's a really good cartoonist," said the Courant staffer. "There was no reason he had to do this."

(By Dave Astor, from Editor & Publisher)

Looters or survivors?


Caption read: Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store in New Orleans, Louisiana. (AFP/Chris Graythen)


Caption read: A young man walks through chest deep flod water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday. (AP/Dave Martin)

Photographer Chris Graythen, who shot the picture of the "finders," made a statement on the controversy:

I wrote the caption about the two people who 'found' the items. I believed in my opinion, that they did simply find them, and not 'looted' them in the definition of the word. The people were swimming in chest deep water, and there were other people in the water, both white and black. I looked for the best picture. there were a million items floating in the water - we were right near a grocery store that had 5+ feet of water in it. it had no doors. the water was moving, and the stuff was floating away. These people were not ducking into a store and busting down windows to get electronics. They picked up bread and cokes that were floating in the water. They would have floated away anyhow. I wouldn't have taken in, because I wouldn't eat anything that's been in that water. But I'm not homeless. (well, technically I am right now.) I'm not trying to be politically correct. I'm don't care if you are white or black. I spent 4 hours on a boat in my parent's neighborhood shooting, and rescuing people, both black and white, dog and cat. I am a journalist, and a human being - and I see all as such. If you don't belive me, you can look on Getty today and see the images I shot of real looting today, and you will see white and black people, and they were DEFINATELY looting. And I put that in the caption.

The furor over this coverage was most likely taken out of context during one of this country's largest disasters of the new millenium. However, media does need to be careful when covering these events to keep from perpetuating negative racial stereotypes. Chris Graythen made sure, before he hit the send button, that each image was identified properly and that the proper context was embedded in the image. David Nolan

Questionable Covers Grace News Pages

Newspaper covers from the San Francisco Examiner and Miami New Times drew criticism from readers with their use of the word "Bitch", used to describe recent hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast. For the San Francisco Examiner, this was not the first time this type of cover has appeared.

Is the use of the word "Bitch" offensive or sexist? Or has it become part of accepted language?

USA Today Online Alters Rice Image

 
Altered imageOriginal image

An image taken by Mikhail Metzel of the Associated Press was altered by an online editor for USA Today recently. The original image was posted on October 19, 2005 and updated on October 26 after bloggers complained about the altered image. USA Today's online editor posted the following statement with the new image:

"The photo of Condoleezza Rice that originally accompanied this story was altered in a manner that did not meet USA TODAY's editorial standards. The photo has been replaced by a properly adjusted copy. Photos published online are routinely cropped for size and adjusted for brightness and sharpness to optimize their appearance. In this case, after sharpening the photo for clarity, the editor brightened a portion of Rice's face, giving her eyes an unnatural appearance. This resulted in a distortion of the original not in keeping with our editorial standards."

The question is whether or not you accept USA Today's explanation. Intentional or not? Send me your opinion.

Imitation is the sincerest form of larceny

 

The striking similarity between Boston magazine's current cover on the city's leading power brokers and Texas Monthly's February cover on the same subject did not go unnoticed by Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith.

Both covers feature a black and white motif, the word ''Power" in green, and a large photo of a leading local pol. (In Boston's case, it's Governor Mitt Romney, while the Texas mag snapped state Speaker of the House Tom Craddick.) ''I would describe my reaction as somewhere between heart attack and freak out," Smith said of the Boston cover.

''What I would say is imitation is the sincerest form of larceny. It's inconceivable to me that such a thing could happen." Boston editor Jon Marcus says he called Smith ''and expressed regret for any offense we might have caused him or his staff. . . . It's done and it's been done to us a lot. We, as a matter of principle, haven't done it and don't do it. This is a lapse for which I have expressed regret to Evan."

(by Carol Beggy & Mark Shanahan, Boston Globe)

Shooting Spurs TV News Debate: Live broadcast captures fatal wounding of suspect by police after car chase.

May 12, 2005. By Eric Malnic and Jia-Rui Chong, Times Staff Writers
Times staff writers Tonya Alanez, Hector Becerra and Richard Winton contributed to this report.

At least two television stations provided live coverage as Long Beach police officers fatally shot a man after a car chase, reigniting a debate about how TV news outlets should cover chases and other live events that could end in violence. The shooting came at the end of a 50-minute pursuit across Long Beach and the South Bay that channels 2 and 7 followed with TV helicopters -- the kind of story that has become a staple of local newscasts. When the suspect suddenly jumped out of his vehicle at a Long Beach strip mall and allegedly reached for a pistol, the cameras captured a group of police officers opening fire and the suspect falling to the ground.

Coverage of car chases and similar live events has been an issue of contention since 1998, when local stations broadcast live the death of a despondent man who shot himself on a Century Freeway overpass. Concerns intensified two years ago, when five stations provided live coverage as Los Angeles police shot a robbery suspect to death in front of Santa Monica High. After that incident, Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton and Sheriff Lee Baca publicly urged TV stations to reduce their coverage of chases, arguing that the intense focus encourages criminals to flee from authorities.

Some TV stations dispute this contention and argue that the chases are news. And on Wednesday, officials at KABC-TV Channel 7 defended the way they handled the chase. "Live breaking news is always unpredictable," said William Burton, a station spokesman. "Our news staff was aware of the increasing danger and violence. We responded accordingly." Burton said it was impossible to know what would happen to the man when he got out of the car. "He looked like he was going to run away…. Obviously, no one knew shots were going to be fired. The instant we did, we went to a wide shot. It was not 10 to 20 seconds after but the moment we were aware it was happening." Burton said viewers could hear the reporter say on the air, "Pull wide, pull wide."

The station also showed restraint during earlier parts of the broadcast, he said, when the situation looked potentially violent. "In this very same chase, there were two times before, when, over the air, you can hear the reporter say, 'Pull out wide,' because of the exact same thing, the potential for this to turn more dangerous and violent. That was our effort to minimize graphic material." KABC-TV is one of several stations that attempt to go to wider shots when it appears there might be violence. "Our people are instructed to pull out as quickly as possible when you see the end of a chase coming," said KTLA-TV Channel 5 News Director Jeff Wald, whose station is owned by Tribune Co., which also owns the Los Angeles Times. "There's no reason on God's earth why you need to show an actual shooting." KTLA did, however, air tape of the shooting on its 10 p.m. newscast.

Some media experts say such events should not be broadcast live. "Maybe we need a five-second delay to avoid exposing kids to this kind of imagery," said Marty Kaplan, an associate dean at the USC Annenberg School for Communication. The broadcast occurred about 5:30 p.m., when many families gather around the television.  But Kaplan said it's hard for the stations to change because the public seems fascinated by the chases. "I think the motto, 'If it bleeds, it leads,' didn't just fall from the sky," he said. "It's well-known that mayhem attracts our attention…. Ever since the possibility of O.J. Simpson blowing his brains out while we all watched him in the Bronco, we have known the power of that stuff to get ratings."

KNBC-TV Channel 4 News Director Robert Long said his station decided not to air the chase live because it was "apparent to the seasoned eye that it was going to end badly." "It's always tempting to jump in when it's the news hour and you know everyone else is catching it," Long said. "But it just seemed like a bad idea." Long says the station has a policy of not airing such chases live when it appears there will be footage of "a graphic scene," like a shooting death. "It has to rise to the level of real news, not just eye candy," he said.

Duluth Paper Apologizes for School-Shooting Cartoon; Cartoonist Unhappy

By Dave Astor
Published: March 31, 2005

NEW YORK. A note apologizing for a syndicated editorial cartoon about the recent Minnesota school shootings was posted today by the Duluth News Tribune -- to the cartoonist's displeasure.

In the note, News Tribune President and Publisher Marti Buscaglia said: "Some of our readers have indicated they were offended by the racially derogatory nature of Wednesday's political cartoon commenting on the Red Lake incident. Frankly, I agree with those viewpoints and want to extend my apologies to those who were offended during a sensitive time in our region."

The drawing, dated March 25, was created by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Signe Wilkinson of The Philadelphia Daily News and Washington Post Writers Group. In it, she showed a person holding an "Indian Tracking Guide" while following items on the ground such as a gun, a picture of Adolf Hitler, and a Nazi swastika. "I'm not recognizing these signs," says the person.

When contacted by E&P, Wilkinson e-mailed this response to the NewsTribune apology: "My cartoon was drawn in sympathy with the Red Lake citizens. All it was saying was that the footprints troubled kids leave behind today in the 21st century are not the footprints of anyone's traditional culture. The cartoon boldly bemoaned the violent American subculture that some of our children fall prey to. I would have appreciated the chance to explain that to the one reader whose letter was published and to anyone at the paper who had cared to get my side of the story."

NPPA Calls Newsweek's Martha Stewart Cover
"A Major Ethical Breach"

DURHAM, NC (March 9, 2005) – The National Press Photographers Association, the society of professional photojournalism, today said that Newsweek magazine's use of an altered photograph of Martha Stewart on its cover last week was "a major ethical breach." Stewart's head was superimposed upon the body of a model who was photographed separately in a Los Angeles studio, and the composite image was published on Newsweek’s cover.

"NPPA finds it a total breach of ethics and completely misleading to the public," NPPA president Bob Gould said today. "The magazine’s claim that 'there was a mention on Page 3 that it was an illustration' is not a fair disclosure. The average reader isn’t going to know that it isn't Martha Stewart's body in the photograph. The public often distrusts the media and this just gives them one more reason. This type of practice erodes the credibility of all journalism, not just one publication."

NPPA Ethics Committee chairperson John Long asks, "When will they ever learn? No amount of captioning can ever cover for a visual lie. If you respect the written word enough not to lie, then you should respect the image enough not to lie as well. If it looks real, then in a news context it better be real."

"Readers aren't stupid. They're critical thinkers," says Mike Longinow, a former newspaper reporter and photojournalist who now teaches reporting, editing, and photojournalism at Asbury College in Wilmore, KY. "And their belief in the credibility of print media has been slipping for some time in this country. Many don't believe what they read. And when they can't believe what they see, either, in the visuals that are intended to invite their reading, they'll vote with their feet. They'll turn away – and not just from Newsweek. They'll be turned off to publications that care about visual and written integrity. That's what makes this case (not the first one in recent decades) so tragic."

As a result of the Stewart cover, Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker changed the magazine's byline and crediting policy. Bylines and illustration credit lines will now appear directly on the magazine's cover instead of inside the magazine or in the table of contents. See the full story at: www. nppa.org

© 2005 The National Press Photographers Association, Inc.

 

2004 NPPA Board Adopts New "Modernized" Code of Ethics

Preamble
The National Press Photographers Association, a professional society that promotes the highest standards in photojournalism, acknowledges concern for every person's need both to be fully informed about public events and to be recognized as part of the world in which we live.

Photojournalists operate as trustees of the public. Our primary role is to report visually on the significant events and on the varied viewpoints in our common world. Our primary goal is the faithful and comprehensive depiction of the subject at hand. As photojournalists, we have the responsibility to document society and to preserve its history through images.

Photographic and video images can reveal great truths, expose wrongdoing and neglect, inspire hope and understanding and connect people around the globe through the language of visual understanding. Photographs can also cause great harm if they are callously intrusive or are manipulated.

This code is intended to promote the highest quality in all forms of photojournalism and to strengthen public confidence in the profession. It is also meant to serve as an educational tool both for those who practice and for those who appreciate photojournalism. To that end, The National Press Photographers Association sets forth the following Code of Ethics:

Code of Ethics
Photojournalists and those who manage visual news productions are accountable for upholding the following standards in their daily work:

Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.

Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.

Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one's own biases in the work.

Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.

While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.

Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images' content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.

Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation.

Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.

Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other journalists.

To see the rest of the new code go to the NPPA national website.


© 2004 The National Press Photographers Association, Inc.

Herald apologizes for graphic photos
(by Mark Jurkowitz, Boston Globe)


Boston Herald front page treatment

Deluged by an outpouring of anger, the Boston Herald acknowledged yesterday that it made a bad decision in publishing a large, graphic, front-page photo and a more explicit inside picture of the Emerson College student fatally injured in the Kenmore Square melee.
''The Herald today published two graphic photos that angered and upset many in our community," editorial director Kenneth Chandler said in a statement. ''For that I apologize. Our aim was to demonstrate this terrible tragedy as comprehensively as possible. In retrospect, the images of this unusually ugly incident were too graphic."

At a gathering on the Emerson campus, some of Snelgrove's classmates spoke angrily about the front-page photo. And at Northeastern University, the Student Government Association announced it will no longer allow the Herald to display stacks of free papers on campus.

Bob Steele -- senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute, a media think tank -- offered a strong comment on the front-page photo. ''To me that is unprofessional and disrespectful, and it does not further the journalistic purpose of the reporting," he said.

According to a Herald newsroom source, the decision to publish the photos was based on a desire to illustrate the consequences of unruly fan behavior, particularly in light of the death of a student after the Patriots' Super Bowl win. The two pictures that prompted yesterday's furor were distributed through the SIPA Press agency. A SIPA representative declined to answer questions.



Boston Globe front page treatment

The Boston Globe published a photo of the supine Snelgrove from a distance inside the paper. Taken by graduate student Jim Sullivan, it was among a number of images, some more graphic than the one published, that the paper had. Sullivan said that given his concerns about showing respect for the victim and her family, ''I agonized over whether or not to submit the pictures."
The Globe's editor, Martin Baron, said the intent was ''to use a photo that, while capturing the news and the scene, was not sensational or very graphic.'The photo we selected was taken from a distance, was small in dimension, and did not show an identifiable face, published deep inside the paper and printed in black and white, which did not show blood," Baron said.

National Geographic Mislead by Photographer


Set-up Photographs by Gilles Nicolet. The images above were actually made several years earlier and are not of the Barabaig tribe that was depicted in the origianl story. In the image below the photographer admitted that he had supplied the tusks to the hunters after borrowing them from local wildlife authorities.

From the Editor: A Special Message

July 15, 2004

In the July 2004 issue of National Geographic, we published a story about elephant hunting in Tanzania by the Barabaig people. To our profound disappointment, we have learned that we were misled by the photographer and that three of the published photographs do not accurately depict the situation described in the accompanying text. On pages 78-9 (photograph above), the picture caption reads that hunters are carrying "tusks taken from an elephant found dead in the bush." Soon after the article was published, several readers pointed out that there are faint but unmistakable numbers on the tusk on page 78 -- which we failed to notice before publishing the story.

We now know that the tusks belong to the Tanzania Department of Wildlife. When we asked photographer Gilles Nicolet to explain, he admitted that he himself had supplied the tusks to the hunters after borrowing them from local wildlife authorities. This was in direct contrast to what Nicolet had repeatedly assured us when we were preparing the story. As part of our rigorous internal system of checks and balances, we routinely obtain independent verification of the circumstances in which a photograph is made. In very few instances, we are unable to do so. This story was one of those cases, and we published it knowing that we were relying heavily on Nicolet's accounts. In light of his disturbing admission about the tusks, we immediately launched an investigation into the other photographs in the story and determined that the two on page 85 -- which the caption identifies as showing a successful hunter removing his spear from an elephant and then removing the tusks --were actually made several years earlier and are not of the Barabaig. (See photographs above.)

By publishing this story, we failed our readers. We are currently reviewing our internal procedures to do our best to ensure that this type of mistake does not happen again. In addition, we are re-examining Nicolet's only previous story for National Geographic ("Hunting the Mighty Python," May 1997); to date it appears that all of the pictures and accompanying captions are accurate.

We apologize to our readers.

William L. Allen, Editor in Chief

380,422 Teeth And One Chickenshit Sales Dep't
(by Paul Demko, Citypages.com)

Jeff Johnson's poster is provocative. It's upsetting. It's even, some might say, gruesome.

After all, it catalogues in raw numbers the human toll from the ongoing war in Iraq. It notes that, as of July 14, 2004, 1,014 soldiers from the U.S.-led coalition had been killed in combat. More strikingly, it then goes on to deconstruct the carnage in exhaustive physical detail: 3,042 pounds of brain matter, 380,422 teeth, 983 tons of flesh and bone, 131,180 fingers.

It's a strikingly simple and effective piece of propaganda. It's also, according to the Star Tribune, in "poor taste." At least that's why the newspaper claims it refused to run the poster as an advertisement for an upcoming show at the Frank Stone Gallery in northeast Minneapolis. In a letter to owner Frank Stone, the newspaper stated that the advertisement did not meet its "Standards of Good Taste."

Stone takes issue with the notion that the poster is somehow not fit for print. "It's all true," he notes of the statistics. "There's no dirty words. I'm not soliciting sex from a minor or anything."

The flyer first appeared in a show of political posters that the gallery put up in February. Its updating for the Strib was intended both to serve as an advertisement for the space and to spark debate about the hostilities in Iraq. "I was disappointed because I really wanted people to see that poster and I wanted to have people come to our opening," says Stone, who was going to pay almost $5,000 for the ad space.

(What do you think of the Star Tribune's decision not to print this ad? E-mail me at: dn15@txstate.edu)

Death of a War Correspondent
(By Kehrt C. Reyher, Poynter)

The world of Polish journalism is roiling this week over the publication of very graphic photographs of the death of war correspondent Waldemar Milewicz in the Polish tabloid Super Express in its Saturday, May 8 editions.

Milewicz, a reporter for Polish State Television, and production assistant Mounir Bouamrane were shot and killed in Iraq.

Following the publication of the photographs, a number of journalists and news organizations, particularly broadcasters, drafted an open letter of condemnation aimed at Super Express and its editor, Mariusz Ziomecki. The publication quickly became the subject of talk shows and launched an intense internal debate among leading media figures, politicians, and journalists.

You Be the Editor
(By Roy Peter Clark, Senior Scholar, Poynter Institute)

For the last 24 hours, across the nation and across the world, people encountered gruesome photographic images from Fallujah, Iraq. Editors -- across media platforms -- had to decide which images to use, how to use them, where to play them, whether to use the images at all, to consider why they are being used, and whether or not to give readers and viewers an inside look at news judgment and ethical decision-making.

On the front page of The New York Times and the St. Petersburg Times, for example, viewers saw a version of this image (above), in which the charred and dismembered remains of American civilians are hung from a bridge, a group of Iraqis cheering in the foreground.

If you choose to run a version of this image, you have many alternatives to express news values and to minimize harm.

See the Alternatives

New York Post Blasted for running suicide shot on cover
(
From NYU, New York Daily News and other sources)

A front-page New York Post photo of a coed leaping to her death spurred outrage from the teen's classmates - and frightened mental health experts, who said the picture could glorify suicide. NYU students were horrified to see the picture of 19-year-old Diana Chien's Saturday death plunge from the roof of her boyfriend's apartment building.

"The New York Post's decision to plaster yesterday's (March 10) front page with a photo of NYU student Diana Chien falling to her death was beneath contempt. If there was any doubt that the city's lesser tabloid would violate all standards of decency to empty its newsstands, that doubt was extinguished yesterday by a gruesome photograph that did nothing but sensationalize a sorrowful death and torture an already grieving community of family and friends." (NYU)

"The paper already ran a sensationalist story about Chien's death with the offending photo on page 9 on Sunday (March 7). That it ran a second story yesterday - and on the front page, no less - after it learned that Chien was an NYU student sends a message about the press' perception of our university, a message that grew louder when other national media, including The Associated Press and The New York Times, followed the Post's lead." (NYU)

Wycliff: The dogs in Marlette's cartoon seemed gratuitous
(From Chicago Tribune)

Chicago Trib public editor Don Wycliff has lost track of the number of letters protesting Doug Marlette's cartoon about the city's fire department and racial slurs heard on department radios. Wycliff's critique: "I think the malevolent firemen with their hoses would have been sufficient to convey Chicago's unique and serious problem. The dogs I thought were gratuitous. But hey, if I knew what makes for a good editorial cartoon I'd be drawing them instead of opining about them."

NCPPA Strips Photog's Awards (PDN OnLine)



Last August, the North Carolina Press Photographers Association (NCPPA) rescinded three Pictures of the Year (POY) awards given to Charlotte Observer photographer Patrick Schneider.

The NCPPA board voted 4-0, with one abstention, to strip Schneider's awards after determining that he had removed background information from certain images through excessive adjustments in Photoshop.

Liddy told The Observer that Schneider had violated the code of ethics outlined by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), which states, in part: "In documentary photojournalism, it is wrong to alter the content of a photograph in any way (electronically, or in the darkroom) that deceives the public."

Observer editors say they found only a handful that were objectionable. Editor Jennie Buckner concluded that Schneider did not intend to deceive readers or contest judges, but that "he went over the line in the use of some techniques, which altered the backgrounds in ways that left us uncomfortable."

Schneider insists that he violated no pre-determined rules. "I don't feel like I deceived the public," he says. "I did burn down backgrounds, in some points to the extreme, to bring immediacy and impact. But was it malicious? No."

Click here to see a Shockwave illustration of how Schneider manipulated the original images.

Editor sacked over 'hoax' photos

Story from BBC NEWS, May 2004

Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan has been sacked after the newspaper conceded photos of British soldiers abusing an Iraqi were fake. In a statement the Mirror said it had fallen victim to a "calculated and malicious hoax" and that it would be "inappropriate" for Morgan to continue. The Queen's Lancashire Regiment (QLR) said the Mirror had endangered British troops by running the pictures. Roger Goodman, of the QLR, said the regiment now felt "vindicated". Mr. Goodman added: "It is just a great pity it has taken so long... and that so much damage has been done in the meantime." The Daily Mirror... apologizes unreservedly for publishing the pictures and deeply regrets the reputational damage done to the QLR and the Army in Iraq. At a news conference in Preston on Friday afternoon, the regiment demonstrated to reporters aspects of uniform and equipment which it said proved the photographs were fake. The regiment's Brigadier Geoff Sheldon said the vehicle featured in the photographs had been located in a Territorial Army base in Lancashire and had never been in Iraq. He said the QLR's reputation had been damaged by the Mirror and asked the newspaper to apologize because the evidence they were staged was "overwhelming".

The photos published in the Mirror on 1 May appeared to show British troops torturing an Iraqi detainee. In one picture a soldier is seen urinating on a hooded man while in another the hooded man is being hit with a rifle in the groin. Colonel Black, a former regiment commander of the QLR, said the pictures put lives in danger and acted as a "recruiting poster" for al-Qaeda. However one of the Mirror's informants - Soldier C - said there had been abuse in Iraq. The Territorial Army soldier has been questioned by Royal Military Police after talking about his claims to the Daily Mirror.

Brian Walski Discusses His Doctored Photo

May 07, 2003 By David Walker, Photo District News

The Los Angeles Times fired Brian Walski April 1, 2003, after the staff photographer admitted to digitally combining elements taken from two different exposures. At the time of the offense, the award-winning photojournalist had been covering the war in Iraq from the town of Basra. The composite image ran on the front page of the Times as well as its sister paper The Hartford Courant, among others.

Walski spoke at length to PDN senior editor David Walker about what he did, how he feels about his actions, and what his plans are now.

Walski: I guess you're calling to ask why I destroyed my career.

PDN: Did you destroy your career?

Walski: Right now, it's not looking good.

PDN: What are you going to do?

Walski: Maybe try to start my own business with a couple of friends here in LA who have their own gallery. I've been in newspapers 24 years, since 1979. Started my career in Albuquerque. I'm not blaming anybody but myself. A lot of people said, 'well, you were under stress.' When I put the pictures together, I knew what I was doing. It looked good. It looked better than what I had, and I said 'wow.' Things happened so fast. Great photographers who can compose pictures under that kind of intensity--I'm amazed by how they can do it. Things are happening so fast. You have to watch out for yourself, and look what's going on to be able to compose pictures. I had ten frames of soldier totally cut off. At some point I must have zoomed out. When that guy came up with the baby, I shot off ten more frames. I had just one where you could see the soldier's face. The others he was turned away. I put four pictures on my laptop. I was going back and forth. There was no reason to do [what I did]. I was playing around a little bit. I said, 'that looks good.' I worked it and sent it.

PDN: Was it crossing your mind that you could get in trouble?

Walski: Not really. I wasn't debating the ethics of it when I was doing it. I was looking for a better image. It was a 14 hour day and I was tired. It was probably ten at night. I was looking to make a picture. Why I chose this course is something I'll go over and over in my head for a long time. I certainly wasn't thinking of the ramifications. It's not just me. It's what I've done to my co-workers, to the Times, to other photographers that were there. I feel really bad.

PDN: What did your co-workers say?

Walski: Most have been very nice and supportive and kind. I haven't heard from everybody. A lot of them are just shocked. They're surprised. The Times is such a high quality operation. Nobody would think of doing this. I wake up in the morning and can't believe that I did it, that it's happening to me. But I did, and I can't blame anybody but myself. We were in Iraq at that point for six days. We were sleeping in our car. It was the most intense kind of--we didn't have any place to stay. There was no safe haven of any kind where you could kind of relax and get a good night's sleep. It was constant tension. Maybe that led to it, but I can't say that it did.

PDN: When you were looking at the pictures, were you justifying it in some way?

Walski: When I saw it, I probably just said, no one is going to know. I don't know. I've tweaked pictures before--taken out a phone pole. It's not a common practice, but you can do it. I can't speak for anyone else, but I imagine they've done it here and there. This was going overboard--taking pictures and putting them together. I think it's just that I wanted a better image. Then when I did it, I didn't even think about it.

PDN: Did you notice that the people in the combined picture repeated?

Walski: I guess not. I put them together and thought, 'Looks good,' and that was it. I heard that it was discovered by an Iraqi who was studying the faces for his relatives, and he noticed. None of the editors at the Times noticed it either.

PDN: You're not making any excuses about this.

Walski: I can't. I accepted full responsibility as soon as they called me on it. I've had friends say, 'oh, you wanted to get [fired].' I can't go there. It's not that complicated. I did it, and I have to move on from there. I can only analyze it so much. It was bad. It was being deceptive. I was doing something that was clearly wrong. I was unethical. At the time did I really think of all this? No. I can't really go back to that day. Would I have done it again? I don't know. Maybe I would have. My head's still kind of spinning at this point. My whole career--if it's not over, it's certainly going to change dramatically. If I start doing commercial work, I'm going to have to start out at the bottom, basically. It's difficult right now. There was that incident with the New York Times photographer. I know he denied it, fought it, and it got ugly. There was no point. I wasn't about to do that. And I couldn't. When they called me that night, Colin [Crawford, the Times director of photo] said, 'Give me an excuse. Tell me it was a satellite transmission problem. Say something.' I said, 'No, I did it. I combined the two pictures.

PDN: He was looking for a way to save your ass?

Walski: I guess. He was saying, 'help me on this.' I went through my whole career being above board. I worked for the [Boston] Herald under [Rupert] Murdoch. They cut and pasted pictures.

PDN: They did?

Walski: Back in the old days, yeah, when it was owned by Murdoch. The art department would do it. It was old school stuff. The photo department was always dead set against it--the photo department would revolt against that kind of stuff. It's something I would never think of doing, and here I am.

PDN: It must be hard to come to grips with what you've done.

Walski: It is, but it goes beyond that. It's who I am. I've been a professional photographer my whole professional life. The craft I value the most--I doubt if I can get back into it. I feel like I've disgraced it. I've tarnished it. What I did tarnished every photographer to a degree, and I feel really bad about that. And the humiliation of being fired...

PDN: Colin fired you over the phone?

Walski: He didn't. I admitted it to him. He said, 'send me the images.' I did. Then I called back and said, 'I'll resign.' He said, 'No, they are going to fire you.' I think it was out of Colin's hands at this point.

PDN: Have you put out any feelers to see if you can salvage your career as a photojournalist?

Walski: It's only been a month. I'm trying to get organized. I have no camera equipment. The Times provided everything. It was like a candy store. They provided everything you can imagine. If I'm going to start my own business, I have to make an investment [in gear]...I'm not sure this is what I want to do. It's a pivotal point in my life. Maybe I'll be happy where I end up in a couple of years, but I'll never look back on it and say it was a good thing. I hurt my reputation and the LA Times' reputation, and that's something I feel really bad about. And the Internet thing, that's hard to deal with. I did a Google search on my name, and it comes up in about 25 languages. Every photographer wants to be known for a picture he's taken. I'll be known for this. It's not something I'm proud of. The photographers who are covering Iraq--I've hurt them in a way. If I could apologize... People should be proud of the work they've done over there. I take responsibility for what I did.

LA Times Photographer Fired

"What I did tarnished every photographer," says fired Los Angeles Times photojournalist Brian Walski.

Walski, who was fired from the Times last year while on assignment in Iraq, says he wasn't thinking about ethics when he manipulated a war zone photo (above). (From Photo District News)

"The only thing we in the profession of photojournalism have to offer our readers and viewers is our credibility. If we cannot be believed, we have betrayed them, our papers, our networks and our fellow photographers. Unfortunately a good photographer made a bad decision and fabricated a news photo from two images while working in Iraq this week. Any visual lie, big or small, is a lie. We all must take a strong stand against such conduct, as the LA Times did by firing him." (Michael Sherer, National Press Photographers Association President)

Click here to see a Shockwave illustration of how Walski manipulated the original image

CBS digitally alters broadcast from Times Square

December 2000
Source: Hany Farid, http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/home.html

The CBS emblem in this frame grab from the live broadcast with Dan Rather, was digitally inserted during the new year's eve broadcast to conceal the NBC emblem that was on display in the background.

 



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