Doctored Boston Photo: Why Did the NY Daily News Alter The Gory Photo?
The doctored Boston photo used by The New York Daily News on the front page of its paper on Tuesday highlights a conundrum many news outlets face in the event of a tragic event: Some images that come out of a horrendous incident are too grisly for print. But should they be manipulated?
Capital reports that the photograph that the New York Daily News ran was shot by John Tlumacki of The Boston Globe. It shows a woman lying next to a pool of blood on the sidewalk near the marathon's finish line. In the original image, above and top, the woman's leg is severely damaged with what looks like a gaping hole below her knee.
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In the doctored Boston photo used by the New York Daily News, above and bottom, the woman's leg is intact.
Why did the Daily News alter the gory photo? Should it have doctored the image?
'Out Of Sensitivity'
Charles Apple, editor at the Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif., was the first person to draw attention to the doctored Boston photo in one of his blog posts.
"Looks to me like somebody did a little doctoring of that photo to remove a bit of gore," he wrote in a post, in which he included both the original image and the doctored one, and a close-up of the manipulated portion of the photo. According to Apple, one of his followers of his blog pointed out the doctored image to him.
The National Press Photographers Association, an organization based in North Carolina that provides resources for photojournalists, includes a Code Of Ethics on its website for photographers who work in media.
"Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images' content and context," it reads. "Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects."
Capital reached out to the New York Daily News for comment.
"The Daily News edited that photo out of sensitivity to the victims, the families and the survivors," Ken Frydman, a spokesperson for the newspaper, told Capital. "There were far more gory photos that the paper chose not to run, and frankly I think the rest of the media should have been as sensitive as the Daily News."
You can see the original image here.
Making Of An Iconic Image
The Daily Mail reports that the woman in the foreground of the doctored Boston photo is 31-year-old Nicole Gross, a fitness instructor and triathlete from North Carolina who was at the Boston Marathon to watch her mother compete. She sustained multiple injuries in the blast, including a broken leg, fractured ankle and a severed Achilles' tendon, according to The Daily Mail.
News agencies around the world have used the image of Gross, propelling her into the spotlight as a kind of fateful icon of the Boston Marathon bombing. Her expression, marked by complete disorientation and shock, is emblematic of the nation's initial response to Monday's tragic event.
Gross' sister, 29-year-old Erica Brannock, also suffered serious injuries during the explosion, and had her leg amputated. Both Gross and Brannock are reportedly recovering in one of Boston's hospitals.
Another iconic photo circulating after Monday's bombing shows a young man, identified as Jeff Bauman, Jr., being taken away from the bloody scene in a wheelchair. The image, shot by Charles Krupa for AP, shows a hoary-faced Bauman being wheeled away. Most of his leg is missing, with just a bone protruding from skin that looks like dirty, ripped canvas.
"We agree that this image is difficult to look at but believe that it is also a true depiction of the terrible nature of this story," Natalie Raabe, the communications director at The Atlantic, told the New York Observer.
The New York Observer points out that other publications, like The New York Times, did not run the gruesome image of Bauman.
"I'm not opposed to showing blood and, on rare occasions, a dismemberment, if it's integral to telling a story," James Estrin, a senior photographer at the Times, told the Observer. "I'm not sure the graphicness advances the story."
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