Doctored Photos

Photo: Tonie AuerBy Tonie Auer

DFW Chapter President

A story on Editor’s Weblog about a new software program that can detect doctored photos transported me back in time to one of my early journalism jobs at a small six-day-a-week daily in rural Oklahoma. I don’t want to name names because it is all too obvious whom I’m writing about anyway (if you were in Oklahoma in the early 90s). But, no reason to throw someone under the bus like that. But, I digress.

At this daily paper, we had a tremendous photographer. Because the staff was small – one editor and two news reporters – we all shot pictures and wrote stories. This man was particularly gifted with a camera and even more talented in the dark room. His photos were amazing. They were also doctored.

We would enter APME contests as well as Oklahoma Press Association, etc. He dominated the category for newspapers our size. I found it disgusting and fought back the bile and the urge to report him because I needed the job. I just remember sitting in class during many ethics discussions by my Baylor J-school instructor, Doug Ferdon, and my stomach would turn. What did the reporter/photographer do? He would super-impose flying birds into sunset pictures. He would add images that weren’t there before to create more drama.

What I wouldn’t give for something like this software back then.

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