Accuracy in Media

The New York Times has removed photos from its website that appear to have been digitally altered.

From Fishbowl NY

Editor & Publisher noticed that the New York Times had taken down a slideshow of photos by Portuguese photographer Edgar Martins that had appeared in this

Sunday’s magazine depicting abandoned house construction projects in the wake of the financial crisis.

Now, instead of the gallery online, there is a short statement from the paper: “The pictures in this feature were removed after questions were raised about whether they had been digitally altered.”

It’s unclear who made the original allegations of Photoshopping, but E&P points to this feed on One of the posters replied with this link, which purports to show evidence of possible digital altering by using animation. Seems like pretty damning evidence to us.

A Times publicist has yet to return a request for comment on the subject.

The question is, do the pictures still have the same impact even if they were Photoshopped? And why would a world-renowned photographer need to do this anyway? It’s not like he needed to airbrush a model or anything. Was the Times right to take the photos off its Web site and should they return them at some point?

Update: Minnesota Public Radio has an interview with computer programmer Adam Gurno, the MetaFilter poster who discovered the photographic discrepancies. He said he emailed the Times about the MetaFilter conversation and the evidence he found, apparently leading the paper to take the photos down.

“It’s an unfinished house but it would have been fine however he photographed it originally,” Gurno said.

The Times should also run their statement in the next edition of the Sunday magazine though any damage from running the doctored photos has already been done. 


Late yesterday, the Times added more information to their editor’s note accompanying the removed gallery. According to the updated note, the original introduction to the photo feature, which appeared in the magazine last Sunday as well as online as a slide show, explicitly said that photographer Edgar Martins “creates his images with long exposures but without digital manipulation.” However, despite the paper’s claims, the photos did end up being manipulated. As the editor’s note explains:

“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”

Today, the Times Lens blog has a longer explanation about the incident. The blog reveals that the Times does not accept any types of digital manipulation in the photos that it publishes — except for cropping. (We wonder if this same policy applies to fashion photographs in the Style section or T magazine.)


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