Top 10 Photo Fails: 2012's Wrong & Fake Photos

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10) The Sunday Times Runs 2008 Doctored Photo in 2012

(Credit: Sunday Times, screenshot)

In July, the News Corp-owned Sunday Times published a not only doctored photo, but also an old photo.  The 2008 photo, which showed “missile test-firings,” was doctored. In reality, other photographs of the same event only showed three missiles, not four, like in this photo.  But, the four-year-old photo accompanied the Times‘ July 1, 2012 story “Iran Issues Stark Threat to Israel.”

9) South African City Press Unpublishes Graphic, Doctored Photo of President


(Credit: City Press, screenshot)

After defending a graphic, doctored photo of South African president Jacob Zuma, the City Press decided to unpublish the photo “out of care and fear,” as we wrote in May.

“We faced bullying, intimidation and the naked use of state power,” City Press editor Ferial Haffajee told iMediaEthics.  The photo showed “Zuma in a Leninist pose with exposed genitalia,” the Guardian explained.

8) Sports journalists re-tweet fake Justin Verlander photo


(Credit: CBS News, screenshot)

Sports journalists, including New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand and the official account for ESPN’s SportsNation, re-tweeted a doctored photo of Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, as we wrote in October.  Verlander had tweeted the real version of the photo — in which he wears a shirt saying “Keep the MVP in the D Miguel Cabrera 24.”

Check out last year’s top 10 fake and doctored photos.


7) Austrian Newspaper Apologizes for Dramatically Doctored Syria Photo


(Credit: Krone, screenshot)

Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung apologized over the summer after it published a doctored photo that wasn’t labeled a “photomontage.” The Kronen Zeitung publisher’s apology argued that the photo was “a journalistic device of a photomontage for the purposes of illustration.”

The fake photo combined a real photo of a Syrian family doctored onto a background of destroyed buildings. The original photo of the family showed a man, woman and child walking down the street, but the “photomontage” was much more dramatic.


6) Buffalo TV Uses Picture of Seal in Michael Clarke Duncan Death Segment


(Credit: WGRZ via Huffington Post, screenshot)

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan, best known for his role in the film Green Mile, died in September. But Buffalo, New York NBC-affiliate WGRZ-2 had to apologize shortly thereafter for a “careless editing error” that led to a photo of Seal being used in its report on Clarke’s death.

According to WGRZ’s “our bad” apology posted on Facebook, the error happened when “two entertainment stories accidentally merged into one video clip.” The excuse made some sense because Seal’s divorce from model Heidi Klum was frequently in the news at the time.
5) Fox News Uses Picture of Indiana Governor with Jerry Sandusky Report


(Credit: Fox News via Mediaite, screenshot)

WGRZ wasn’t alone in mixing up photos in TV news broadcasts.  Over the summer, Fox News apologized for an even bigger whopper: using a photograph of Indiana governor Mitch Daniels in a segment about former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky’s conviction for child sex abuse.

4)  Getty Scrubs Two Caption Errors Misidentifying Subjects of Photos


(Credit: Getty, screenshot. highlight added)

Some photo errors this year were due to bad captions, iMediaEthics has written. Twice this fall, iMediaEthics highlighted caption errors at Getty Images. First, a September photo of the Occupy Wall Street anniversary described everyone in the photograph as being “protestors affiliated with Occupy Wall Street.”  But, one of the main subjects of the photo was no protestor — she is a Stony Brook University Journalism student who was at the protests for a school assignment.

Stony Brook University Journalism professor Wasim Ahmad detailed in December his struggle to get Getty Images to correct the photo’s caption.

And, an early November Getty Images’ caption error prompted an error by DNA India.  A Nov. 3 Getty Images photo from the New Zealand Television Awards pictured a blonde woman identified as Jessica Simpson. But, the woman in the photograph was actually New Zealand TV host Erin Simpson.  iMediaEthics found this photo error when the mis-labeled photo was used by daily newspaper DNA India in its reports on claims that American singer Jessica Simpson was pregnant.


3) South African Citizen Uses Photoshop to Eliminate Dead Bodies


(Credit: the Citizen, screenshot)

In September, South African tabloid the Citizen apologized for Photoshopping its front page photo.

The Citizen said because of the photo’s “graphic nature…we felt that blurring the bodies was appropriate.” But, the instructions got mangled and the newspaper ended up having “digitally cloned” the bodies out. Later, the Citizen fired photographer Johann Hattingh, who wasn’t involved in the photo altering, because of his tweets critical of the Photoshopping.

2) People Go Missing in Kim Jong-il Funeral Photos


(Credit: NYTimes, Korean Central News, Kyodo News, screenshot)

Technically, this fake photo started making news in the last days of 2011.  The New York Times unpublished a Photoshopped photo from Kim Jong-il’s funeral. Comparing the”European Press Photo Agency via Korean Central News agency” photo with others from the funeral showed that the faked photo deleted a few people and a camera. TIME magazine ended up running the fake photo in its Jan. 9 print issue because it didn’t get the kill notice until it was too late.

1) Fake, old and wrong photos circulate with Hurricane Sandy

(Credit: BuzzFeed, screenshot)

As with most major storms, Hurricane Sandy brought fake photos, old photos and wrong photos.

Several fake storm photos, including one of a dramatic storm cloud behind the Statue of Liberty, circulated on journalists’ Twitter accounts.  NPR posted a photo of soldiers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, dating it to Oct. 29, but the network had to later fix its post to reflect that the photo was from September.

And CNN made an on-air correction Nov. 1 for a photo error in a segment on people killed during Hurricane Sandy, including Lauren Abraham.  “We showed the wrong picture last night,” CNN’s Anderson Cooper said.


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Top 10 Photo Fails: 2012’s Wrong & Fake Photos

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