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Sunday Times confesses to doctoring photograph

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Did anyone else see the slightly remarkable apology to Patricia Fisk in the Sunday Times? You’d be forgiven for missing it since it was only 125 words and tucked away on page 2 of the News Review. It’s worth quoting in full:

‘Our report “Now wash your hands (and bedpans, and floors…)” (Focus, October 14), concerning the health problems at Maidstone hospital was illustrated by an agency photograph of Mrs Patricia Fisk wearing an unhygienic nurse’s uniform. We had wrongly understood that Mrs Fisk was a model who had signed a model release form to allow unlimited use and adaptation of the picture. In fact Mrs Fisk is a senior nurse employed by another NHS trust who has never worked for Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust. When photographed she was wearing a clean uniform, but to illustrate the article the photograph was modified to make it look unhygienic. We unreservedly apologise to Mrs Fisk for any distress and embarrassment caused by the photograph.’ [My bold].

Unfortunately the online version of the article doesn’t have the photograph so we can’t see what the Sunday Times did to it, but given the nature of the apology one has to assume that nowhere was it made clear the newspaper had doctored the picture.

Even if the paper argues that the photograph was simply illustrating evidence presented in the article (about the spread of C Diff in Maidstone hospitals), it still does not justify changing it so substantially – even if it was a ‘model who had signed a release form’. That it was happy to make a clean uniform dirty undermines the credibility of the whole piece. If the paper was willing to change the photo to make the story more convincing, how can you be sure it didn’t fiddle some of the figures as well?

Or, an even bigger question, how often does the Sunday Times alter photographs (when altering them significantly alters their meaning)?

Written by Martin Moore

December 17th, 2007 at 4:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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