'Concord (N.H.) Monitor' Acknowledges Running Doctored Photo

By: E&P Staff The Concord (N.H.) Monitor alerted its readers today that a doctored photograph had been published in Tuesday's edition of the paper.

In a column titled "Pictures Can Lie, But Not in a Newspaper," Executive Editor Felice Belman wrote that an article in the Monitor's "Neighbors" section had been accompanied by a manipulated photo. The report had highlighted New Hampshire Institute of Technology students' efforts to create a medicinal herb garden on the school campus, and featured a group shot of the students.

Photo editor Dan Habib told E&P that a reader had discovered something was amiss and wrote a letter to the paper. "If you look at the picture closely, the faces [of the students] have different lighting conditions," Habib said. "It was a composite photograph."

Habib, the Monitor's photo editor for the past 12 years, said that the paper's strict policy on images is a bit harder to apply to the "Neighbors" section. A lot of times, he said, it's hard to spot that a reader-submitted image has been manipulated.

Belman explained that the "Neighbors" section is a bulletin board of sorts, to which readers submit notices of upcoming events and seek to highlight local achievements, often by s?udents.

"Frankly, we've caught some [doctored photos] in the past," said Belman. "We call and ask them to send us the original."

Though some editors -- and readers -- may view such a photo as harmless, Habib was adamant that the photo policy is followed.

"The biggest concern I have is that people don't think it's a big deal," he said. "I do. If you chip away at the credibility of the photography of a newspaper, you can damage the credibility of the whole newspaper. That's why we have to hold a firm line with submissions."

In her column Wednesday, Belman wrote, "Our photographers do not engage in that sort of fictionalizing.

"They do not stage, alter or re-enact news events.

"The photograph on the Neighbors page yesterday was submitted to the newspaper by NHTI, but the same standards of truthfulness must apply, regardless of who provided it. This one slipped by us, and I apologize."


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