Blogger unixrat, in a Metafilter post titled, "Ruins of the Second Gilded Age," reported in the comments section his discovery that The New York Times inadvertently published Photoshopped images by Edgar Martins, a Portuguese photographer, in a Sunday Magazine photo essay, July 5.
The Times hired Martins, according to acb, the author of the original blog post, "to travel around the United States and take photographs of abandoned construction projects left in the wake of the housing and securities market collapse."
Among the 125 comments the post generated were links to numerous photos by Martins accompanied by devastating critiques by unixrat, Afroblanco and yoink that debunked any belief that these photos were anything other than doctored. Unixrat informed the Times of the deception. The Times quickly responded by pulling the entire photo gallery they had published online.
The problem remains that there is no mention or disclosure about unixrat's discovery, the Metafilter post or even a clear admission by The Times that the photos were removed because they are fakes.
So I sent the following email to Clark Hoyt, New York Times Public Editor: Wed, 8 Jul 2009 06:28:53 am EST
Dear Mr. Hoyt,
I just ran across this withdrawal notice in a Times Magazine Image gallery.
"Editors' Note: July 7, 2009
"The pictures in this feature were removed after questions were raised about whether they had been digitally altered."
We are distressed that there is no transparency regarding what actually happened to these images. Obviously, The Times does not remove images just because "questions were raised." Readers need more than an inadequate placeholder when such drastic measures are taken as the actual withdrawal of published images.
StinkyJournalism is waiting for a response from the Times.
UPDATE: 07/08/09 1:53pm EST : I added the time we emailed Mr. Hoyt--6:28am EST. We will soon include time stamps with dates to document when we post stories.
UPDATE: 07/08/09 3:26pm EST : There is an excellent post with technical analysis of the photo fakery on PDNPulse.com (Photo District News).
UPDATE: 07/08/09 3:55pm EST : Just got a comment from the NY Times Magazine's office: (Re Fakery?) "We are going to run an editor's note in an upcoming issue."
I am still pressing....
UPDATE: 07/08/09 4:38pm EST: MPR News: Public radio interview with unixrat --the blogger who discovered the fraud. (Hat tip: Editor&Publisher)