Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Detrich Resigns

I'm sorry to report that veteran photojournalist Allan Detrich resigned yesterday in the wake of his suspension for submitting a digitally altered news photograph to his paper, the Toledo Blade. The alteration was not substantive, and Detrich has explained on his blog that it was a simple mistake and not the result of an intent to deceive, but as we've learned several times in recent years, photojournalists are just not allowed to make mistakes like this. The newspaper has felt obliged to give assurances that it's examining Detrich's past submissions for irregularities. After hearing of this story and reviewing the available evidence, we're inclined to give Allan the "benefit of the doubt. We wish him well in his future endeavors.


UPDATE: Following an investigation by the Toledo Blade, explained by Blade Vice President and Executive Editor Ron Royhab on toledoblade.com, it now appears that Allan Detrich might have been more in the habit of altering photographs than he was willing to admit. An excerpt from Royhab's article:

"An intensive investigation of Mr. Detrich's work, conducted by Nate Parsons, The Blade's director of photography, found that since January of this year, Mr. Detrich submitted 947 photographs for publication, of which 79 had been digitally altered.

"Twenty-seven of the altered photographs were published both in the newspaper and on toledoblade.com, and an additional 31 were published only on toledoblade.com. Another 21 altered photographs submitted by Mr. Detrich were not published.

"The changes Mr. Detrich made included erasing people, tree limbs, utility poles, electrical wires, electrical outlets, and other background elements from photographs. In other cases, he added elements such as tree branches and shrubbery.

"Mr. Detrich also submitted two sports photographs in which items were inserted. In one he added a hockey puck and in the other he added a basketball, each hanging in mid-air. Neither was published.

"The Blade is removing all of Mr. Detrich's photographs from toledoblade.com and blocked access to any of his photographs in the newspaper's archive. Like many other newspapers, The Blade shares its work with the Associated Press, an international news cooperative. On April 6, the AP removed all 50 of Mr. Detrich's photographs from its archives.

"Honesty is the fundamental value in journalism."

This also would seem to render Mr. Detrich's defense of his actions (in his blog post) to be itself deceitful.

Mr. Royhab goes on to cite the NPPA's Digital Manipulation Code of Ethics, which he says Detrich signed. The NPPA Digital Manipulation Code of Ethics states:

"As journalists we believe the guiding principle of our profession is accuracy; therefore, we believe it is wrong to alter the content of a photograph in any way that deceives the public.

"As photojournalists, we have the responsibility to document society and to preserve its images as a matter of historical record. It is clear that the emerging electronic technologies provide new challenges to the integrity of photographic images ... in light of this, we the National Press Photographers Association, reaffirm the basis of our ethics: Accurate representation is the benchmark of our profession. We believe photojournalistic guidelines for fair and accurate reporting should be the criteria for judging what may be done electronically to a photograph. Altering the editorial content ... is a breach of the ethical standards recognized by the NPPA."

Update posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON, thanks to bomath

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