The New York Times admits to publishing digitally manipulated photographs

    A note from the New York Times after claims that a published photograph had been digitally altered.

A note from The New York Times after claims that a published photograph had been digitally altered.

If a picture speaks a thousand words, does a screen shot as well? Check out the Editor’s Note posted by The New York Times yesterday:

The pictures in this feature were removed after questions were raised about whether they had been digitally altered.

What’s this all about? A different Editor’s Note posted by The New York Times today offers some additional insight:

A second Editor's Note posted by the New York Times offers more insight into the digital manipulation.

A second Editor's Note posted by The New York Times offers more insight into the digital manipulation.

In case you can’t read it, here’s what the Editor’s Note says:

A picture essay in The Times Magazine on Sunday and an expanded slide show on NYTimes.com entitled “Ruins of the Second Gilded Age” showed large housing construction projects across the United States that came to a halt, often half-finished, when the housing market collapsed. The introduction said that the photographer, a freelancer based in Bedford, England, “creates his images with long exposures but without digital manipulation.”

A reader, however, discovered on close examination that one of the pictures was digitally altered, apparently for aesthetic reasons. Editors later confronted the photographer and determined that most of the images did not wholly reflect the reality they purported to show. Had the editors known that the photographs had been digitally manipulated, they would not have published the picture essay, which has been removed from NYTimes.com.

From what we have read and can gather, a commentator on the community blog MetaFilter may have been the first to spot the digital manipulation.

Evidence of digitally manipulated New York Times photographs

Evidence of digitally manipulated New York Times photographs, available at http://gurno.com/adam/images/abandoned-house-ps-evidence.gif

Unfortunately, this instance isn’t the first we’ve seen where a reputable media outlet published digitally altered or manipulated images, and equally unfortunately, we are certain it won’t be the last. The good news, however, is that solutions already exist that enable organizations to detect whether any electronic record – including digital images! – have been tampered or manipulated, either maliciously or inadvertently, helping them to avoid the reputation damage and loss of trust caused by a lack of data integrity safeguards.

Tags: , , | Posted in: Data Integrity, Data Preservation, Data Tampering

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