Newspaper Not on the Ball in Altered-Photo Case

Allan Detrich of the Toledo Blade took the photo at top left during a University of Toledo women’s basketball game. He submitted the bottom photo to his editors — inserting the basketball.

The Photoshopped image was one of 79 altered photographs Detrich had submitted to the Blade since the beginning of 2007. No one knows how many others he had submitted in his 18-year career with the newspaper.

Detrich was caught (and forced to resign) earlier this month when Donald R. Winslow of News Photographer brought his concerns about a Detrich photo to the newspaper, setting off an internal investigation.

Explained Blade Executive Editor Ron Royhab:

Twenty-seven of the altered photographs were published both in the newspaper and on, and an additional 31 were published only on 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.

No newspaper photographer has ever been caught altering as many photos as Detrick, Royhab wrote in his column. He went on to apologize to readers:

The work [Detrich] turned in always appeared to be quality photojournalism, which is why editors had no reason to suspect he was digitally altering photographs. In this respect, we let our readers down, and we apologize for that and pledge to you that we will do better.

Before Detrich’s forced resignation, the photographer initially dismissed the first altered photo caught as an accident — an image he had submitted to the newspaper’s editors by mistake.

“I did one copy where I cloned out the legs and stuff for my personal use,” Detrich says. “Sometimes I like to just make pictures beautiful. And I’ll make a print for my office or something. I put that in a personal folder on my computer called ‘keepers.’…

“I’ve been in this business 25 years. I’m not a cloner, that’s not something I would do,” he says.

Detrich says he has worked for the Blade since 1989 and has never had another incident like this one.

Now we know that Detrich’s spotless record was simply the product of poor oversight.

Reuters, which suffered through its own altered-photo scandal in 2006, has publicly issued detailed Photoshop guidelines for photographers. Though the Reuters case involved only two altered photos, it received significantly more attention because it became a cause celeb of right-wing bloggers.

You can view examples of Detrich’s Photoshop skills here.

(Via Photo District News)

[tags]Allan Detrich, Toledo Blade, altered photos, photojournalism[/tags]

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