June 30, 2014

After two stories questioning the authenticity of what looked like ruined images in a video for Time, “Robert Capa’s Iconic D-Day Photo of a Soldier in the Surf,” Time has added photo illustration credits, Daniel Kile, vice president of communications for Time Inc., told Poynter in an email.

“TIME’s video and story have been updated to include a photo illustration credit. The film now includes a prominent label on the negatives and on the end credits (see attached for screen grabs). Our story has been updated to include an editor’s note about the change.”

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 12.43.51 PM[5][2]

A.D. Coleman wrote about the images on June 26 on his blog Photocritic International, with a guest post by Rob McElroy, entitled “The ‘Magnificent Nine’ Faked by TIME.”

As a professional photographer for the past 34 years, with a wealth of experience developing film, I could not explain why the “ruined” negatives shown in the video looked the way they did. Then, after carefully scrutinizing all the negatives shown in the video, I figured it out.

I had just discovered a journalistic no-no, a breach of trust, a total fraud. TIME had faked nine photographs in their documentary video and never explained to the viewer what they had done.

Coleman wrote about the images again on June 29, calling for an ethics investigation by the National Press Photographers Association.

“I’m glad Time has owned up to the fact that the negatives were indeed fabricated by them,” McElroy told Poynter in a phone interview. “As a former journalist, when I’m misled by something, I’m extremely disappointed.”

Poynter’s Kelly McBride said it sounds like Time did the right thing in adding the photo illustration credits, but they weren’t transparent about them before “and that’s unfortunate. It sounds like they’re trying to make the situation right.”

Even if Time didn’t specify that the images were real, McBride said, if the audience looking at the package might assume they’re real, then transparency is required.

“They’re certainly taking this very seriously, and I appreciate that,” Coleman told Poynter in a phone interview. (He’s also written extensively about Capa and questions about the photographer’s work.)

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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