Saturday, April 14, 2007

Where's Waldo?

The Toledo Blade's Correction

Recently there was a controversy concerning an altered photograph from Toledo Blade staff photographer Allan Detrich. Detrich apparently cropped out some legs from a photograph and not only submitted the image for use in his paper, but also transmitted the image to other newspapers that used the image (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Cincinnati Enquirer). According to reports, Detrich first claimed ignorance, saying he didn't know what had happened to the legs in the photograph. Later, Detrich changed his story and claimed that he had inadvertently transmitted a "personal" image that he had planned to hang on his office wall. Now, supposing he did in fact make an image for personal use, Donald R. Winslow of Newspaper Photographer Magazine puts it best when he says, "The photographer offered no explanation for why he was digitally altering a photograph for his own “personal use” while in the midst of covering a live news story and transmitting images on deadline." In other words, bad excuse.

Detrich has since "resigned" from his position, and further investigation reveals that this may not be an isolated incident. According to another article from Newspaper Photographer Magazine's Winslow, the Toledo Blade is planning to run a story revealing that "additional questionable Blade photographs by former staff photographer Allan Detrich that should not have run in the newspaper.”

Detrich was suspended by the Blade and later resigned, saying he will be glad to be out of journalism....I think he means he'll be glad not to have to lie any more about his lying.

This is the kind of idiocy we as journalists have to fight daily. It only takes one unethical journalist to ruin the credibility of an entire industry. I'm not only amazed but disgusted at Detrich's actions. Readers have to trust that what we write and photograph is the truth, and the actions of people like Detrich make it very difficult for us to be trusted. I wrote in an earlier blog that someone, a studio photographer not in the journalism industry, once told one of our young interns that she would soon learn that all journalists set up their photographs....that mentality makes me absolutely crazy, because on a regular basis I have to convince, no, battle, people and explain to them that we cant fake events for the camera while I'm on assignment. You may not like our story selection, you may disagree with design decisions, you may question the talent or abilities of staffers or you may even be upset that you didnt get your Sunday paper...but one thing is certain, myself and the other photographers on The Times photo staff go to great lengths to be sure you are getting truthful representations of the world around us, and rest assured that anything otherwise is subject to immediate dismissal from The Times photo staff.

Allan Detrich's blog post
NPPA's original article on the issue
NPPA's follow-up story

2 comments:

John 4/21/2007 2:35 AM  

Greg:

At the start of your observations, you say the photographer "cropped" out the legs. But he didn't crop them, he digitally erased them. If he HAD cropped the photo to remove the "19" banner and the legs that seemed to bother him so much, he would have been in the clear. Photographers crop photos all the time.

Actually, I think it's a better picture with the legs IN the photo. Lends a bit of mystery.

Greg Pearson 4/21/2007 8:23 AM  

He didnt erase them either...most likely he used the clone tool in PhotoShop. Admittedly, bad choice of words, but I was more concerned with his unethical action and flustered at the time I posted. I understand photographers crop...I'm one of them.

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