Pulitzer Prize-winner sacked by AP
It is not often that a Pulitzer Prize winner gets fired in disgrace. Certainly not often enough, considering that Walter Durranty's name still is honored at the New York Times, despite having served as Stalin's propagandist, denying the Ukraine starvation of millions (the Holodomor) while Moscow Bureau Chief for that paper, and winning the Pulitzer in 1932.
But a Pulitzer laureate has just been fired by the Associated Press. The Guardian reports:
The Associated Press has severed ties with a Pulitzer prize-winning freelance photographer who it says violated its ethical standards by altering a photo he took while covering the war in Syria in 2013.
The news service said on Wednesday that Narciso Contreras recently told its editors that he manipulated a digital picture of a Syrian rebel fighter taken last September, using software to remove a colleague's video camera from the lower left corner of the frame. That led AP to review all of the nearly 500 photos Contreras has filed since he began working for the news service in 2012. No other instances of alteration were uncovered, said Santiago Lyon, the news service's vice president and director of photography.
...the major wire agencies and their clients rely on their images being totally authentic; that's why news organisations like the Guardian spend many thousand of pounds each year on their contracts. In a news environment it's all about a chain of trust: from the photographers through to the agencies, newspapers and websites, and then to the readers. If that chain is broken, any picture could be suspect, and that can't be allowed to happen.
The Guardian has the same guidelines for news photography: no cloning, no retouching. The sad irony for Contreras is that if he had just cropped his image, everyone would be happy and he would still have his contract.
There have been far worse abuses by photographers, headline writers, reporters, and editors, often based on sheer bias and dishonesty (as with Durranty). But it is never too late to start applying high standards.
Hat tip: David Paulin