Fox News removes altered images from web coverage of Seattle ‘Autonomous Zone’

Fox News has recently landed itself in an embarrassing bit of trouble.

According to USA Today, Fox News has removed photos from its website after a report from the Seattle Times revealed them to be altered and, therefore, misleading.

Fox News accused of altering photos

The Seattle Times published a story on Friday entitled “Fox News runs digitally altered images in coverage of Seattle’s protests, Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.”

Earlier that day, Fox News ran a series of online articles on events taking place in a part of the Capitol Hill region of Seattle, Washington, which was taken over by George Floyd protestors after the area was abandoned by local police. It was the content of photos that accompanied these stories with which the Times took issue in its report.

One of the photos appeared to depict a man with a large rifle standing in front of a storefront with a broken window. But as the Times noted, “The image was actually a mashup of photos from different days, taken by different photographers — it was done by splicing a Getty Images photo of an armed man, who had been at the protest zone June 10, with other images from May 30 of smashed windows in downtown Seattle.”

The outlet also reported, “Another altered image combined the gunman photo with yet another image, making it appear as though he was standing in front of a sign declaring ‘You are now entering Free Cap Hill.'” The report also alleged that a slideshow purportedly depicting scenes of Seattle included an image of unrest that actually occurred in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Clear violation

USA Today declared in its own reporting on the matter: “The standards of journalism require photo illustrations to be clearly marked, and caution against using photos from different times and locations unless they are clearly marked because it can be misleading to the reader or viewer.”

What Fox News did was therefore clearly a violation of journalistic standards, the paper argued.

The man who took the photos, David Ryder, agreed with the Seattle Times report.

“It is definitely Photoshopped,” Ryder said, referring to the photos. “To use a photo out of context in a journalistic setting like that seems unethical.”

Network acknowledges mistake

Fox News, too, agreed that it had made a mistake, and the network responded to the Seattle Times report by taking the photos down and appending an editors’ note to the top of several stories, which reads:

Editor’s Note: A home page photo collage which originally accompanied this story included multiple scenes from Seattle’s “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” and of wreckage following recent riots. The collage did not clearly delineate between these images, and has since been replaced. In addition, a recent slideshow depicting scenes from Seattle mistakenly included a picture from St. Paul, Minnesota. Fox News regrets these errors.

Admirably, Fox News has taken full responsibility for the mistake in editorial judgment. It would be nice to see mainstream outlets follow suit and acknowledge the countless instances in which they have manipulated words and images to promote their chosen narratives, but we won’t hold our breath.

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