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Reuters withdrew all 920 photographs

LONDON, Aug 7 (Reuters) – Reuters withdrew all 920 photographs by a freelance Lebanese photographer from its database on Monday after an urgent review of his work showed he had altered two images from the conflict between Israel and the armed group Hizbollah.

Global Picture Editor Tom Szlukovenyi called the measure precautionary but said the fact that two of the images by photographer Adnan Hajj had been manipulated undermined trust in his entire body of work.

“There is no graver breach of Reuters standards for our photographers than the deliberate manipulation of an image,” 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.”

The news and information agency announced the decision in an advisory note to its photo service subscribers. The note also said Reuters had tightened editing procedures for photographs from the conflict and apologised for the case.

Removing the images from the Reuters database excludes them from future sale.

Reuters ended its relationship with Hajj on Sunday after it found that a photograph he had taken of the aftermath of an Israeli air strike on suburban Beirut 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 established on Monday that a photograph of an Israeli F-16 fighter over Nabatiyeh, southern Lebanon and dated Aug 2, had also 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.

“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.”

The two altered photographs were among 43 that Hajj filed directly to the Reuters 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, Reuters said.

Hajj worked for Reuters as a non-staff contributing photographer from 1993 until 2003 and again since April 2005. Most of his work was in sports photography, much of it outside Lebanon.

Hajj was not in Beirut on Monday and was not responding to calls. He told Reuters on Sunday that the image of the Israeli air strike on Beirut had dust marks which he had wanted to remove.

Questions about the accuracy of the photograph arose after it appeared on news Web sites on Saturday.

Several blogs, including a number which accuse the media of distorted coverage of the Middle East conflict, said the photograph had been doctored.

by Eyal Dor Ofer at 2006-08-07 18:44:14 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Israel , Israel | Bookmark | | Report spam→

More about Reuters: http://drinkingfromhome.blogspot.com/2006/08/extreme-makeover-beirut-edition.html

by Eyal Dor Ofer | 07 Aug 2006 18:08 | Israel, Israel | | Report spam→
I’m watching a report on CNN as we speak. Here is the site of the guy who blew the whistle on this and was interviewed by CNN (http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/)

As for Hajj, the guy should be fired, not for the alteration of his images, which of course is enough of a reason, but for sucking balls at photoshopping… My 12yo daughter can do better than that!! :-)

L

by Luis E. Andrade | 07 Aug 2006 18:08 | Philly Metro Area, Jersey Side, United States | | Report spam→
i wonder,that picture must have been reproduced dozens of times now,both on the web and on the t.v.,and it will indoubtedly be used in the press.are they all paying for it,and if they are,who are they paying?this could be an interesting case for the orphan works bill.i am pretty sure the net must be full of this image by now.ergo,everyone using it should have paid? after all,they can hardly say in their defence that they did a reasonable search for the author and couldn’t find him,or his agency,could they?

by Michael Bowring | 07 Aug 2006 19:08 | Belgrade, Serbia | | Report spam→
i wonder,that picture must have been reproduced dozens of times now,both on the web and on the t.v.,and it will indoubtedly be used in the press.are they all paying for it,and if they are,who are they paying?this could be an interesting case for the orphan works bill.i am pretty sure the net must be full of this image by now.ergo,everyone using it should have paid? after all,they can hardly say in their defence that they did a reasonable search for the author and couldn’t find him,or his agency,could they?

by Michael Bowring | 07 Aug 2006 19:08 | Belgrade, Serbia | | Report spam→
excuse the internet slang, but WTF? not only is that one of the worst photoshop jobs i’ve seen (what editor let this get through?) but I finally got to see the original and it not a bad photo. definetly news worthy. why they hell use the crappy clone stamp job?

by Dan Anderson | 07 Aug 2006 19:08 | Mobile, AL, United States | | Report spam→
as far as i know, Reuters uses freelance photographers, who get paid a commission.

in my view, it is quite probable that this guy was trying to get himself a bonus by darkening the smoke to make it more contrasty…the editors should have caught it blindfolded!

by [former member] | 07 Aug 2006 23:08 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
The same photographer is also involved in the controversy whether these shots were “staged” http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2006/07/milking-it.html in Qana….

by [former member] | 07 Aug 2006 23:08 | new orleans, United States | | Report spam→
Reuters pays their photographers a commission??? Are they salesmen? That’s the stupidest thing I eveer heard. How do they base the commission? Is this true? Holy crap, that is absolutely dumb. No wonder the guy was trying to make his pictures more spectacular – get your day rate PLUS a bonus if I can get some good bloody smoky pics. That’’s a way to grease the slippery pole of ethics and make it sink forever into oblivion.

OK – someone really has to back up that claim that they pay a commission.

by [former member] | 07 Aug 2006 23:08 | Toronto, Canada | | Report spam→
The man has probably gone without much sleep for a few weeks— he cracked. Its sad.

by [former member] | 07 Aug 2006 23:08 | new orleans, United States | | Report spam→
You know Andy, I would almost believe that. He was just trying to clone stamp out a dirty sensor and it got out of hand…

And from what I have heard, Reuters pays a day rate and if your photos move two weeks after you have submitted them, you get a cut of the sales.

by Dan Anderson | 08 Aug 2006 00:08 | Mobile, AL, United States | | Report spam→
Dan, I don’t know what you have heard, but Reuters is a news service which supplies images by subscription to newspapers for the most part. Reuters is not a stock agency. Hajj may have had a crap deal— but I would put that on Reuters if it was the case.

The man has undoubtedly risked his life the last few weeks— I just think he lost it, and its understandable to me.


by [former member] | 08 Aug 2006 01:08 (ed. Aug 8 2006) | new orleans, United States | | Report spam→
Actually, a photog I know who shoots freelance for Reuters told me that was his (the photog I know) deal. Maybe it varies. As for the stress thing, I was serious when I said I would believe it. God knows I’ve made some stupid mistakes and shooting under constant stress.

by Dan Anderson | 08 Aug 2006 01:08 | Mobile, AL, United States | | Report spam→
Probably does vary Dan…….it was such a poor job that he can’t have been thinking much, eh? And how about the possible use of dead children in what amounted to a “presser?” Perhaps the same thing applies, no one is thinking at all….but the sad part as that a photographer can get fired for just taking part in that kind of thing, or I suppose for not taking part.

by [former member] | 08 Aug 2006 01:08 | new orleans, United States | | Report spam→
I don’t even know what to think about those photos. Maybe he just hung around the same group over days and the same guy got into the pictures. Like I said, who knows.

by Dan Anderson | 08 Aug 2006 01:08 | Mobile, AL, United States | | Report spam→
I don’t know whether to pity Hajj or condemn him. Why on earth did he need to alter a perfectly good shot?! I saw the before and after alteration photo on CNN, for the first time (better late than never). This will go down as one of those mysteries of the universe, I guess. I can’t laugh, can’t feel sad, just completely baffled.

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/08/07/reuters.photog.reut/index.html

by Max Pasion | 08 Aug 2006 01:08 | | Report spam→
So if they bring in 20 photographers to show the rescue and recovery of bodies, and to make sure everyone gets a good picture they carry around the poor child and holding her up, first carry here here and the there, and its not really clear who “they” are…is that OK as far a journalism goes. What is the responsibility of the paper that runs that story—or the expectation?

by [former member] | 08 Aug 2006 03:08 | new orleans, United States | | Report spam→
As a photo editor friend of mine said once: “The best photographer I have is Adobe Photoshop”.

by [former member] | 08 Aug 2006 03:08 | Santiago, Chile | | Report spam→
To Andy, that reminds me of one of the things I learned in journalism class back in college:

“not matter who you think the good guys are, someone is always going to try and play you.”

by Dan Anderson | 08 Aug 2006 04:08 | Mobile, AL, United States | | Report spam→

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Participants

Eyal Dor Ofer, Eyal Dor Ofer
Israel , Israel
Luis E. Andrade, I shoot and I write Luis E. Andrade
I shoot and I write
Philly Metro Area, Jersey Side , United States
Michael Bowring, photographer Michael Bowring
photographer
Belgrade , Serbia
Dan Anderson, Freelance Photographer Dan Anderson
Freelance Photographer
Mobile, Ala. , United States
Max Pasion, Street Photographer Max Pasion
Street Photographer
Bayonne, Nj , United States ( EWR )


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