Saturday, September 16, 2006
Runaway photo
Here is an example of the danger of using a file photo with a story that makes an allegation against someone. This headline and picture from The Huffington Post site linked to a New York Times story about people "crashing" popular marathons with counterfeit credentials. (Those numbers on runners' chests are called "bibs," by the way, and are bootlegged or scalped online.) Would-be runners do so because the number of applications to participate in races such as the New York marathon far exceeds their capacities.

HuffPo has made the error of dredging up a file photo of a marathon and coupling that image with an accusatory headline. The result could bring legal trouble if any of the faces are recognizable. Editors should always use caution when using old images to illustrate a situation like this one.
posted by Andy Bechtel at 8:20 PM | Permalink |


  • At 4:25 AM, Blogger nunnsuch

    Andy: A problem not only with file photos but live photos and especially mug shots. We had a story recently about kids driving non-licensed scooters illegally, perhaps on the road. The photogs brought us live art of a kid on a scooter, but on a closer look he was off the road, breaking no law and would have been unfairly implicated in the story. I think sometimes we forget that we're not only editing stories, but also the entire package and really the entire page. How many times has a photo with one story been displayed awkwardly beside an unrelated story a column away? And certainly the most compelling photo does not always tell the story most accurately, fairly or completely.

    Scott Nunn
    News Editor/copy desk chief
    Wilmington Star-News