The New York Post was derided Tuesday for apparent inaccuracies in its reporting on the bombing at the Boston Marathon. And now, its rival tabloid, the Daily News, is facing criticism over an apparent photo touch-up.
On yesterday's cover wrap, the News ran a photo taken by John Tlumacki of The Boston Globe showing an injured woman lying in a pool of blood while being tended to by a civilian.
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It was one of many widely circulated images capturing the moments after explosives were detonated near the finish line of the marathon on Monday afternoon, killing as least three and wounding more than 170 in a likely terrorist attack about which police are still scrambling to scare up leads.
But the version published by the News seemed to erase a gory wound to the woman's leg that was visible in other publications that used the photo. On Tuesday evening, a link to a blog post exposing the manipulation began circulating among News journalists, some of whom were none-too-pleased about the situation, multiple newsroom sources told Capital.
"If you can’t stomach the gore, don’t run the photo. Period," wrote Charles Apple, the author of the blog post and an editor at the Orange County Register of Santa Ana, Calif. He also noted that Newark's Star-Ledger ran the same photo on page one exactly as it had been taken by the Globe photographer.
In deciding to run the photo, the News was confronted with the same conundrum facing all news outlets covering the Boston tragedy, or any violent story for that matter: Whether or not certain images are simply too grisly for public consumption.
But in altering it, the paper violated a basic journalistic principle.
"Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images' content and context," according to the ethics code for the National Press Photographers Association, a professional society. "Do not manipulate images ... in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects."
Several News insiders told Capital the decision to alter the photo came straight from the top of the masthead.
"Photographers and editors are so embarrassed and saddened by this," said one source.
Reached for comment this morning, a News spokesperson would only say: "The Daily News does not comment on its editorial decision-making."
A spokesperson for the Globe also declined to comment.