Reuters reject photos shot by a freelance

A freelance photographer who tampered with two images he sold to Reuters of conflict between Israel and Hizbollah has been told by the news agency it will never use his work again.

A total of 920 images taken by the Lebanese freelance, Adnan Hajj, have been withdrawn from Reuters’ database as a “precautionary measure” to finding two faked photos, the agency said.

The first manipulated image surfaced as bloggers accused mainstream media of distorting the realities of the Middle East conflict, in light of online images that appeared to be contradictory.

A subsequent investigation by Reuters found that the offending image, said to be of the aftermath of an Israeli air-strike on suburban Beirut, had indeed been manipulated by Hajj.

Statements from the news agency reveal their analysis found the freelance had manipulated the image using Photoshop - to show more and darker smoker rising from buildings.

An accompanying probe found a photograph of an Israeli F-16 fighter over southern Lebanon had also been doctored - to show three flares coming from the jet, not one; as was the case.

Speaking to the Reuters website, its global Picture Editor Tom Szlukovenyi said Hajj had undermined trust in his entire body of work by corrupting the two images.

“There is no graver breach of Reuters standards for our photographers than the deliberate manipulation of an image,” Mr Szlukovenyi said in a statement.

“Reuters has zero tolerance for any doctoring of pictures and constantly reminds its photographers, both staff and freelance, of this strict and unalterable policy.”

Filing policies have now been tightened and only senior staff will be permitted to edit images of the Middle East, with final approval down to the Editor-in-chief, Reuters said.

It has now parted company with Hajj after his 11-year stint as a contributor, stressing also that much of his work was outside Lebanon and concentrated on other topics, such as sports.

Reuters yesterday reflected: “Manipulating photographs in this way is entirely unacceptable and contrary to all the principles consistently held by Reuters throughout its long and distinguished history. It undermines not only our reputation but also the good name of all our photographers.”


8th August 2006

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