Reuters Purges All 920 Adnan Hajj Photos from Database
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.”
There have been several such photos from Hajj documented in the blogosphere, so this is probably best. Of course, it has the side benefit of making it more difficult for anyone outside Reuters to go back and investigate how many other Hajj forgeries have accompanied Reuters stories.
Regardless of how one feels about Reuter’s “standards” at this point, one has to give credit where credit is due: They didn’t do a Dan Rather on this one. Once the forgery was made known, they moved quickly to admit error and distance themselves from the incident. Considering that this broke on the blogs Friday night, that the first mea culpa was issued Saturday morning, the stringer was “fired” Sunday evening, and the entire database purged by Monday morning is blazingly fast even by the standards of the digital age.