Another Photo Manipulation Case Raises Question: Is the Penalty High Enough?

Just firing news photographers who manipulate images doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, because photographers keep doing it.

This time it was freelancer Miguel Tovar, who was on assignment for the AP at the Copa America soccer tournament in Argentina. His crime, as Poynter reports, was to obscure his own shadow in the foreground of a picture he shot of some kids playing soccer.

Poynter obtained and published the “Dear Colleagues” memo that AP’s Director of Photography Santiago Lyon issued after Tovar was caught. “An alert photo editor noticed,” he wrote (translation: don’t think we won’t catch you, too). Lyon then went on to describe the consequences as if he couldn’t punish Tovar enough:

“We have severed all relations with Tovar and removed him from the assignment. He will not work for the AP again in any capacity,” it says. “In addition, we have removed all of his images from AP Images, our commercial photo licensing division, and its website.”

It seems like a minor manipulation when you look at it, although a pretty ham-fisted one. But the industry has zero tolerance for this sort of thing and Lyon goes on to explain why.

“Our reputation is paramount and we react decisively and vigorously when it is tarnished by actions such as the one described above.”

But photographers keep on doing it, despite the warnings and consequences.

So what else, if anything, can be done?

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