Report on Reuters actions after publishing altered photographs
Last August, Reuters published and then withdrew two photographs from Lebanon that had been digitally altered.
At that time, we immediately terminated our relationship with the freelance photographer who took and altered the images and said wed share with the public the results of our internal investigations.
Experienced photo editors and other senior editorial staff went through thousands of images published during the Lebanon conflict. We are satisfied no other images were digitally altered.
We were not satisfied with the degree of oversight that we had that allowed these two images to slip through. We have tightened procedures, taken appropriate disciplinary action and appointed one of our most experienced editors to supervise photo operations in the Middle East.
Stephen Crisp started in this role this month; most recently he managed the transition to Reuters of our Action Images subsidiary. A British citizen, he has run pictures operations in Europe, Asia and globally while working for Reuters since 1985.
His predecessor in the Middle-East role was dismissed in the course of the investigation for his handling of the case.
We called together our senior photographers to strengthen our existing exacting guidelines on ethical issues in photography and wrote a new code of conduct for photographers, appended to this note.
We have restructured our pictures editing operation to ensure that senior editors deal with all potentially controversial photographs, and we have ensured that shift leaders are focusing solely on quality issues instead of doing editing themselves.
In addition, we have invested in additional training and supervision, particularly in the area of digital workflow, where we have engaged external experts.
Finally, we are working with industry leaders to see if there are technical means we can devise to better recognize possible fraud.
We are fully satisfied, as we conclude our extensive investigation, that it was unfortunate human error that led to the inadvertent publication of two rogue photographs. There was absolutely no intention on Reuters part to mislead the public.
Our swift, strong response, however, both in the days immediately following and in the months since, has strengthened our commitment to our trust principles and our reputation as a respected global news provider which acts with integrity and transparency. We have shown that when mistakes are made we take responsibility and make changes.
Our enhanced guidelines and procedures are among the best in the industry. And I believe we are firm in our dedication to reporting the world truthfully, objectively and without bias, as we have done for more than 150 years.
David Schlesinger is Reuters Editor-in-Chief