By: Joe Strupp
Photographer James Thresher of The Washington Post will pay back about $2,200 to a pro-Wal Mart group that had funded a recent cross-country trip, in which he shot photos for the group’s promotional Web site, the Post reported.
Thresher, a 25-year Post employee, received no salary during the trip, in which he drove from Las Vegas to Georgia with his girlfriend and documented the excursion for the Web site operated by Working Families for Wal-Mart. But Executive Editor Leonard Downie, who had not known of the trip until Tuesday, said it violated the paper’s conflict of interest policy because it involved what he termed “a partisan group.”
Downie on Wednesday ordered Thresher to repay the expenses and remove the photos from the group’s Web site. He said Thresher had discussed the trip beforehand with Joe Elbert, the Post’s assistant managing editor/photo, but noted there was some miscommunication about what the trip would include.
Elbert told E&P on Wednesday that he had given permission, but said it was a mistake. In today’s Post, Thresher was quoted as saying, “Maybe it’s something I shouldn’t have done, in hindsight, obviously, but I didn’t think I was out there compromising The Washington Post. It really seemed harmless.”