At least Reuters admits to image manipulation, AP Photos still silent

On Saturday, August 5, 2006, a blog called “Little Green Footballs” posted a story entitled “Reuters Doctoring Photos from Beirut?” that revealed Reuters’ freelance photographer Adnan Hajj manipulated some photos he submitted from Iraq. Reuters eventually admitted Hajj’s wrongdoing and pulled all of his photos. But the blogging and television fallout continues.

In March, I was using the Associated Press’ AP Images World Wide Photos website when an image I downloaded and purchased appeared to have been digitally altered.

When I reported the problem to my AP Images photo sales representative and requested that I receive the original image instead, he accused me of making the changes. When I directed him the photo’s URL on the AP’s website, he admitted no wrongdoing and said that he cannot confirm or deny that he sees any evidence that the image was (or was not) altered, saying he is not trained to recognize photo imperfections.

I even blew up the image and drew arrows to help his untraied eye recognize that the image was altered:

Altered AP Image (close up)

Altered AP Image

Altered AP Image (full)

Altered AP Photo from AP Images

Instead of taking the high road the way Reuters did by admitting the photo was altered and then promptly removing it, the AP Images denied any wrongdoing. My repeated emails and phone calls asking for them to replace the altered image they sold me with the original unaltered one went unanswered, saying that they have already credited my account and that the issue was resolved.

I eventually gave up. It wasn’t until a few months later that I noticed that AP Images removed the photo from their website and my Lightbox (a favorites tool on AP Images’ website) without ever apologizing or admitting they made a mistake.


  1. The New York Times issued a good article on the subject. In this story, it did say that the “A.P. photographers who use the cloning tool to remove dust from their pictures must tell their editors exactly where they used it when submitting the images.” Guess that policy wansn’t in place for the image I found above. To me, it looks like someone tried to sharpen the award winner’s face.

  2. It looks like a sloppy photoshop retouch job versus a material alteration for deception purposes. I do agree that the work is bad enough to warrant a refund on the image.

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