Sunday, August 13, 2006

 

Reuters pulls all Adnan Hajj pics

Reuters has yanked every single one of Adnan Hajj's pics in the wake of the scandal over his obviously Photoshopped photos of Beirut. Reuters' full statement:

Reuters has withdrawn from its database all photographs taken by Beirut-based freelance Adnan Hajj after establishing that he had altered two images since the start of the conflict between Israel and the Lebanese Hizbollah group.

The news and information agency also said it had put in place a tighter editing procedure for images of the Middle East conflict to ensure that no photograph from the region would be transmitted to subscribers without review by the most senior editor on the Reuters Global Pictures Desk.

"There is no graver breach of Reuters standards for our photographers than the deliberate manipulation of an image", said Tom Szlukovenyi, Reuters Global Picture Editor. "Reuters has zero tolerance for any doctoring of pictures and constantly reminds its photographers, both staff and freelance, of this strict and unalterable policy".

Reuters terminated its relationship with Hajj on Sunday after a review of a photograph he had taken of the aftermath of an Israeli air strike on suburban Beirut the previous day found it had been manipulated using Photoshop software to show more and darker smoke rising from buildings.

An immediate enquiry began into Hajj's other work. It found on Monday that a second photograph, of an Israeli F-16 fighter over Nabatiyeh, southern Lebanon and dated Aug 2, had been doctored to increase the number of flares dropped by the plane from one to three.

"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," Szlukovenyi said.

He added that the mere fact that Hajj had altered two of his photographs meant none of his work for Reuters could be trusted either by the news service or its users.

"This doesn't mean that every one of his 920 photographs in our database was altered. We know that not to be the case from the majority of images we have looked at so far but we need to act swiftly and in a precautionary manner," Szlukovenyi said.

The two altered photographs were among 43 that Hajj had filed directly to the Global Pictures Desk since the start of the conflict on July 12 rather than through an editor in Beirut, as was the case with the great majority of his images. Filing drills have been tightened in Lebanon and only senior staff will now edit pictures from the Middle East on the Global Pictures Desk, with the final check undertaken by the Editor-in-Charge.

Hajj worked for Reuters as a non-staff contributing photographer from 1993 until 2003 and again since April 2005.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

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