South African newspaper the Citizen has admitted that it made a mistake by publishing a manipulated photograph on the front page of its Wednesday edition, after the cover elicited strong reactions from journalists about the ethics of editing news images.
The photograph, supplied by news agency Agence-France Presse (AFP), was taken after a suicide attack killed 12 people, including eight South African aviation workers, in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 18. In the original image, two bodies lie beside the charred skeleton of a minibus that was blown up in the attack. In the version that was published, the bodies have been digitally wiped from the picture.
The Citizen released a statement on Thursday, explaining that during an editorial meeting on Tuesday, the photograph was deemed too graphic to publish in its natural state, and a decision was taken to blur the bodies. Instead, they were “digitally cloned out of the photo,” apparently inadvertantly. “The photo should never have been published in that form,” said the Citizen’s Editor Martin Williams. “We regret this and are taking steps to ensure that it does not happen again,” continued the statement.